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Smartphone gaming soars as console sales stall

by Sarah Griffiths on 11 August 2010, 11:52

Tags: iSuppli

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Game on

The gaming industry has turned to the rapidly growing smartphone video game market as sales of consoles and handheld gaming devices have stalled.

Factory unit shipments of game-friendly phones are predicted to top 1.27bn in 2010, over 11 percent more than the 1.14bn sold last year, according to data from market research firm, iSuppli.

As the number of smartphone-wielding people increases, handsets supporting games and other forms of entertainment ‘vastly outnumber' dedicated gaming devices.

According to the research, the figures for shipments of consoles and handheld gaming devices in 2010 are expected to be flat or even down. Factory units for games consoles are predicted to total 52.3m in 2010, up a tiny 0.2 percent from 52.1m in 2009. 

However, iSuppli also warned handheld consoles are expected to fare even worse, with factory units declining 2.5 percent to 38.9m this year, down from 39.9m in 2009.

"The formidable lead enjoyed by cell phones capable of gaming will continue in the years to come with no hint of decline, and their near-universal presence gives them the potential to become a viable competitive threat to dedicated gaming platforms, primarily handheld devices. Although gamers who prefer a superior gaming experience will always opt for either a console or handheld, sales of both platforms tend to rise and fall based on the vagaries of product development, consumer buying patterns and economic trends," said Pamela Tufegdzic, consumer electronics analyst at iSuppli.

Interestingly, British games developers are producing more titles for the iPhone than games consoles, as the smartphone platform allows them to sell their creations straight to consumers, according to The Financial Times.

Around two thirds of independent developers in the UK self-publish their own software, allowing them to leapfrog games publishers and use the internet instead to save on development, marketing and distributing costs, trade body Tiga told the paper.

More than half of self-publish club reportedly produce iPhone games, while a third create software for personal computers.

Self-publishing has grown in popularity since some larger studios such as Eidos and Codemasters were snapped up by bigger companies overseas, making British staff redundant, as well as coinciding with the surge in internet gaming on social networking sites and mobiles, which has given new life to the independent developer sector.