It took Nintendo and Sony a while to wake up and realize just how much gaming on the iOS was affecting their bottom line and changing the way folks play and view video games. The iTunes App Store together with the millions of iOS devices out on the market is a 1-2 punch that no competitor can match, and as a result, Apple’s share of US gaming revenue jumped nearly 500% from 2008 to 2009 while Sony and Nintendo both saw their percentage of gaming revenue shrink.
While Nintendo still reigns supreme in video game land, it recently posted its first quarterly loss in two years amidst plummeting Nintendo DS sales. Looking forward, Nintendo has high hopes that its upcoming Nintendo 3DS will keep folks from migrating over to the iOS platform, but as people become more comfortable with casual gaming, Nintendo is going to have a tougher time marketing a device that exclusively plays video games without offering other multimedia experiences.
Compounding matters, the selection of iOS games is completely astounding, even more so when measured against the number of games available for all other consoles combined. The graph below, courtesy of Richard Gaywood of TUAW, charts the total number of iOS gaming titles versus the cumalative total of gaming titles for every popular video game system dating all the way back to the original NES.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but goddamn that’s impressive! Putting that chart into words, iOS has almost 3x as many gaming titles as there have been gaming titles in the last 25 years of gaming period. Specifically, Gaywood counted 42,007 active iOS games which dwindles down to 32,438 when you count dupes and such.
Okay okay, there are a few caveats to be aware of. First, Gaywood notes that many of the iOS titles that fall under the ‘gaming’ category are duplicates that include demos. Second, though everyone likes to jump on Apple for exerting strict control over the iOS platform, that’s nothing compared to the draconian control companies like Nintendo and Sony exert on developers on their respective platforms. Put differently, the barrier to entry on the iTunes App Store is significantly lower, not to mention a lot cheaper, for anyone who doesn’t happen to work for a large scale development studio. Third, and this goes without saying, a lower bar to entry necessarily translates into lesser quality titles one wouldn’t tend to find on more established console systems.
All that said, the chart still exemplifies just how much of a gaming force the iOS platform has become, which given Apple’s historical stance, or dare we say ambivalence for gaming, is quite ironic.
And as a final point of interest, below is the data Gaywood used in compiling his chart.