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Mobile games beat handheld games in consumer spending last quarter

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Portable gaming
Portable gaming

The concept that Android and iOS smartphones and tablets would make a major dent in the portable gaming market is nothing new. Last year's PlayStation Vita launch sparked a debate on whether dedicated portable gaming devices have much of a future, and Nintendo had to dramatically cut the price of the 3DS the year before thanks to lower than expected sales. Now, some new data from research firms IDC and App Annie further reinforces the tough position Nintendo and Sony find themselves in — consumer spending on gaming apps in Apple's App Store and on Google Play eclipsed spending on dedicated portable console games from Nintendo and Sony in the fourth quarter of last year. More specifically, spending on dedicated portable console games was highly seasonal — 60 percent of Q4 spending took place in December, likely as consumer picked up games for Christmas presents. iOS and Android game spending, on the other hand, was more evenly distributed.

The data doesn't paint a pretty picture for Nintendo and Sony

That doesn't paint a pretty picture for Nintendo, or especially Sony, who continues to trail in the portable gaming market. In fact, IDC and App Annie found that Nintendo and Apple were nearly equal in terms of consumer spending on games. Additional data revealed that shoppers in the iTunes App Store and on Google Play are more likely to spend on games than they are on other apps. While games made up about a third of all app downloads in Q4, the total amount spent on games as a share of all app spending was over 60 percent in the App Store and nearly 80 percent in Google Play. It's worth noting that App Anne's data on the iTunes Store and Google Play isn't straight from the companies — they apply a statistical scaling model to several sources that chart app store rankings and sales figures. So this info shouldn't be taken as gospel, but it does help paint the picture of where portable gaming is moving — and it looks like lots of consumers are perfectly happy gaming on their smartphones.