A recent study has revealed that in the first quarter of 2013, more cash was spent on iOS games than on 3DS and PS Vita software combined.
This marks a slight change from the previous quarter, where it took iOS and Google Play's combined spend to overshadow dedicated handheld gaming systems. This quarter, iOS alone has eclipsed its "traditional" rivals.
How does this impact us 3DS owners? You could argue that it means absolutely nothing, and you could state that the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad "aren't proper gaming devices". While it's clear that the experience offered by the 3DS is vastly different to the experience offered by a smartphone or tablet, this isn't a trend we can simply ignore anymore. If developers can make more cash on iOS than on 3DS, that's where they will publish their games — irrespective of whether or not the devices have proper buttons.
Of course, this doesn't mean that the 3DS is going anywhere. It has just posted impressive first party software sales for 2013 and has a line-up of games which would make even the most blinkered smartphone gamer jealous. But this does show that the market is changing; just as the Wii edged ahead of its rivals by attracting the "casual" crowd, smartphones and tablets are appealing to a demographic which may not be packed with hardcore players, but is still fully prepared to spend a lot of cash on games. In an industry where talent usually migrates to where the money is, that has to be of concern to Nintendo and Sony. Indeed, both companies are making a concerted effort to appeal to indie developers — whether or not this move has come too late remains to be seen.
Do you think the rise of tablets and phones could cause long-term problems for Nintendo, or could we possibly see casual gamers switching to the 3DS after becoming disenchanted with the typically shallow experiences offered by iOS and Android? Is the era of dedicated handhelds coming to a close? Share your thoughts with a comment.