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Game Center Poised To Surpass Handheld Gaming Devices

It’s so easy to pick your iPhone, launch Game Center and play a quick game while commuting. This is one of the things that makes iOS devices so popular among game players. Add this to the huge sales numbers Apple recorded and it’s easy to see that iOS has changed the way we play games. Apple’s mobile platform has become one of the most popular gaming platforms among gamers.

Game Center
Asymco, a market research company, has recently compared the number of registered Game Center users to the number of home console and handheld gaming device sales. According to Apple’s WWDC 2012 keynote, Game Center has 130 million registered users. To put this into perspective, the sales of Nintendo DS’ stands at 150 million, and the Sony’s Playstation 2 also recorded about 150 million unit sales. In other words, iOS, which has had games in the App Store since 2008 and Game Center has been live only since 2010, has become the third largest gaming platform in just a couple years.

Considering that Apple has sold more than 400 million iOS devices, and the iPhone 5 launch is near, if it maintains its current growth rate, Game Center will likely reach 150 million users by September and over 200 million by the end of the year. It’s worth noting that none of the dedicated gaming platforms has reached the 200 million user base ever before. This doesn’t mean, though, that of the 400+ million iOS device users only 130 million play games but many games don’t require Game Center login to play. It’s actually the number of the gaming community, which Apple created with this service to measure scores, achievement and online play.

Gaming has always ranked high in terms of mobile engagement since it hit the platform. Asymco’s recent study is good news for both indie game makers and established gaming companies. According to Flurry’s game playing has exploded and recorded a 20.5 fold growth since 2010.

The number of mobile gamers have also recorded a huge growth with their number reaching 101 million in the US, which is up from 75 million, according to a recent Newzoo study. The study shows that 69% of gamers play on handsets while 21% on tablets. Of all US mobile gamers nearly 50 million play on an iPhone (19 million), iPod Touch (18 million) and iPad (12.7 million), which makes iOS rank second place in terms of users, following Android.

However, this changes when it comes to mobile monetization as iOS devices generated 84% of the total mobile gaming revenue in March. An interesting note is that most of the money didn’t come from purchasing the app, but from in-app purchases. This is primarily due to Apple’s one-click purchase, which works great in its ecosystem as its users already have their credit card linked to their iTunes account.

As a closing thought, with the popularity of mobile gaming growing at this pace, both indie and established game makers will need to decide their focus audience. But if we look at the numbers Apple and Google pay out to developers ($5.5 billion and $300 million respectively) Game Center seems like a winner.

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