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International Data Corp. believes the amount of gamers, who use mobile gadgets like smartphones and tablets and who pay for the content, will exceed the number of gamers, who use the dedicated portable game consoles in 2013. With growing number of gamers eager to pay for titles, it can be expected that the game developers will start to create higher-quality titles for mobile gadgets.

The portable game console market category, typified by Nintendo's 3DS, Sony's PlayStation Vita or PSP, has recently been overshadowed by gaming-capable smartphones and tablets and this trend is likely to continue. IDC research shows, for example, that the number of paying smartphone and tablet gamers will surpass the number of paying mobile console gamers worldwide in 2013 and rise at a rapid rate through 2017.

The number of portable game console bundles shipped, meanwhile, should fall at an average of nearly 7% per year over the next five years. The installed base of portable gaming systems's is being overwhelmed by smartphones and tablets that are used for (primarily casual) gaming.

If there's a silver lining for devices like the 3DS and Vita it is that the portable console category should lead in a crucial metric through 2017: average revenue per user (ARPU). Total mobile/portable gaming revenue, including digital and packaged game software, console hardware bundles, and direct advertising revenue going to platform suppliers and game developers/publishers, is forecast to approach $23 billion in 2017.

"Android remains quite fragmented but the platform is on its way to becoming a massively popular gaming platform in Asia/Pacific in particular. In order for Nintendo's and Sony's gaming-optimized handhelds to remain ahead of smartphones and tablets on key metrics such as ARPU, these companies and their game card developer and publisher partners will have to redouble their efforts in a number of respects. Digital distribution has reached an inflection point in mobile and portable gaming, and future success will largely boil down to finding a unique balance of freemium business model excellence and that ability to deliver compelling social experiences," says Lewis Ward, research manager of IDC's connected consumer: gaming service.

Tags: Nintendo, Sony, 3DS, Vita, PlayStation Vita, PSP, Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, Google

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