GamesBeat

Smartphones are making console-only gamers rarer despite PS4 and Xbox One

Candy Crush Saga is still making money, but King doesn't have a successor.

Above: Candy Crush Saga is still making money, but King doesn't have a successor.

Image Credit: King

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have both reached millions in system sales, but they aren’t preventing people from also adopting other devices for gaming.

People who play on multiple platforms is the only segment of gamers that is growing, according to a report from industry research firm The NPD Group. That chunk of the market, which NPD calls “omni gamers,” grew from 16 percent to 22 percent of the total gaming population in the U.S. from 2013 to 2014. The biggest group, mobile-only gamers, maintained its 29 percent hold on the market. Casual, “core-console,” “family,” “PC-only,” and social gamers all lost up to 2 percentage points. This suggests that even as dedicated gamers drop $400 on new PlayStation 4s, they are also spending time gaming on their iPhone or Android devices.

In fact, smartphone was the only type of gaming device to experience growth from 2013 to 2014. More than 7 out of 10 gamers reported that they play games on their phones. That is up 4 percent from last year. Consoles and PC did not experience overall growth, even if individual platforms like PlayStation 4 and Steam did.

While gamers are using their smartphones more, spending per player is up for both digital and physical. The average gamers spent $48 on physical games in the last three months, that’s up from $45 over the same period last year. For digital, it is up to an average of $16 from $11 in 2013. Gamers in almost all segments are also spending more time with their purchases.

“Across both digital and physical formats, spending has increased from last year for consoles, portables, and digital gaming apps, which is great news when also combined with the fact that gamers are spending more time playing games,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said. “Being able to understand the segments that are driving the changes in behavior towards purchasing and time spent gaming is fundamentally important to navigate this complex time in the gaming industry.”

With spending still strong and engagement still high, consoles and PC are still in a strong position with gamers, but it’s clear that smartphones are only capturing more time, more money, and more players with each passing year. And the competition for consumer cash may boost creativity in game development as well as software distribution.

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