There’s a 900-pound gorilla stalking the halls and suites of E3: Apple’s iPad. I lost count of how many times tablets were mentioned, and while few game companies specifically mentioned the top-selling tablet, iOS’s hold on gamers is being felt in the mainstream game business.
Microsoft is trying to move out of the living room with SmartGlass, which provides two-way communication between the Xbox 360 and software running on Windows 8 tablets and other Windows 8 devices.
Nintendo’s Wii U Game Pad offers strong similarities to tablets, but the device is more tightly coupled to the Nintendo ecosystem, and doesn’t look like it works as a standalone device.
Sony announced more games integrating the PS Vita with PlayStation 3 games, but Vita’s integration seems even more loosely coupled than SmartGlass. Hedging its bets, Sony also talked up PlayStation Mobile, an attempt to bring PlayStation-style gaming to Android tablets.
PlayStation Mobile could become a credible competitor to iOS, but Sony’s track record in taking on Apple has been spotty, lest anyone forget how Apple took over the portable music player business.
Despite all the companies’ best effort, none of the gaming devices addressed key benefits delivered by the iPad and iPhone: games cost less. Major game companies try to eke out more revenue streams beyond the $60 boxed title. Phrases like EA’s Riccitiello’s “games have evolved from the disc that you buy to the place that you go” are heard more often, and efforts like Battlefield 3 Premium strive to generate revenue beyond the ship date of a title.
The tool promises output in native code for iOS, Android, HTML 5, PC and Mac
YoYo Games launches GameMaker: Studio today, a fast and easy to use 2D games development tool that provides for cross-platform output. GameMaker: Studio allows developers to create games in a single code base and then export and run them natively on multiple formats including HTML5, Facebook, Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows and OSX. The software has a drag-and-drop integrated development environment with a built-in games-oriented scripting language that considerably increases games development productivity.
My two most popular posts of all time on the blog have been my two previous posts about Wii versus XBox 360 versus PS3 market share, with a total of over 50,000 pageviews.
They are clearly years out of date now, so the thought that I should update them now that I’m blogging again was pretty obvious. This is that update.
Data is primarily from the wiki pages for Console wars and for each of the devices, which I’ll link from the table below. The latest quarter sales figures for iPads and iPhones are in Apple’s quarterly results.
I’m including data for the 7th gen consoles, but also 2nd gen handhelds, and iPads and iPhones, because I wanted to see a comparison across device formats, and I particularly wanted to compare figures on Apple’s new devices against the earlier generation devices. I realize this is somewhat an apples to oranges comparison, based on a spectrum of gaming-only to general-purpose device, and mobile versus non-mobile usage. I’m not trying to make predictions or comparison across the device formats; I’m just looking for high level patterns in actual sales data.
I did not include Android phone or Android tablet sales figures because, given the fragmentation of the Android market, it doesn’t seem like Android is as viable as a game development platform as these others, because a game developed on Android can’t run as easily across all Android devices as games developed for any of the other platforms. If any Android developers want to disagree with this thought and tell us better news about cross-Android game development, we’d be glad to hear it, and I can update the data to include Android.
So, caveats about the data. First, as the wikis show, the available data is not as current for all platforms. Second, the various platforms usually released at different times in different regions of the world, so years since launch is an approximation based on that release information as shown on the wikis. The point of looking at this data is about looking at the patterns in it, not about making mathematical calculations and models based upon this freely available imperfect data. To that point, here are some visualizations instead:
This is where the visualization gets interesting across platform types. Note that iPad has already sold more units than either XBox or PS3, and it will surely surpass Wii as well by year end.
Note that iPhone alone has already sold roughly as many units as Wii + XBox + PS3 combined.
iPad and iPhone together will surely surpass total handheld sales this year as well.
Note the large gap down from iPhone to the Nintendo DS, and again a large gap from Nintendo DS down to Wii. At the high end, these sales figures are not well balanced.
I see a few interesting patterns in this one, too.
Note how consistent the sales velocity is across consoles and handhelds. Which of course reinforces how striking the new pattern is, for the iOS devices.
That pattern for the iOS devices shows they are selling 200% to 600% as fast as the earlier devices. This means that the data over time will quickly skew even more in favor of them over the other platforms.
It’s interesting the iPhone and iPad are so close. Given that we know current iPhone sales are much higher than iPad sales, this points out that iPhone sales started much more slowly than iPad sales. A quarterly breakdown of iPhone sales on its wiki page shows this clearly. There are multiple reasons why iPad is off to a quicker start, the most obvious one being that it benefits from iPhone’s previous sales and adoption.