Press start: global games market to score $93-billion in 2013

Phone gaming

Phone gaming

All the gold coins Mario has collected over the years couldn’t compare to the success of the gaming industry. When 2013 is done and dusted, cumulative gaming sales will reach US$93-billion, said research firm Gartner today. Skip forward to 2015 and the gaming market could be worth US$111-billion across all console hardware and software, online, mobile and PC games. The player with the highest score? It’s the mobile gaming segment, which is set to double from US$13.2-billion to US$22-billion by 2015.

Brian Blau, research director at Gartner, knows his gaming. “As mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) continue to grow, the mobile game category will show the biggest growth due to the entertainment value provided by games compared with other app categories. This growth is fuelled by healthy premium mobile device sales globally and a desire by consumers to play games on these multifunction devices that are capable of displaying increasingly sophisticated game content.”

This is the year of the big hitters. While Nintendo continues to flounder with lackluster Wii U hardware and software sales, both Sony and Microsoft have prepared a fiercely delicious lineup of gaming titles for their next-gen consoles, the PS4 and Xbox One. Both consoles are due for release in November, while the Wii U is available now. Most excitingly, these are consoles that embrace the mobile market with the Xbox One and PS4 both dependent on phones and tablets to further enhance the experience. And mobile is where gaming’s at.

Video Game Market Revenue, Worldwide, 2012-2015 (Millions of Dollars)






Video Game Console





Handheld Video Games





Mobile Games





PC Games





Total Video Game Market





Blau forecasts that dedicated handheld consoles such as Sony’s PS Vita and Nintendo’s 3DS will have a less meaningful impact on the gaming market. “Sony and Microsoft are releasing their game consoles in November and pent-up demand for these new consoles has caused a temporary reduction in game console hardware sales during 2013. However, growth will resume during 2014 and sales of existing console hardware are forecast to grow from US$15.9-billion today to US$22.7-billion in 2015. In stark contrast, dedicated game handheld devices and traditional PC games will play a smaller role in the game market and cease to be important game platforms.”

While the emerging market grows, the online and PC sector is set to shrink as tablet and mobile eclipses gaming on personal computers. Mobile gaming in emerging markets is “accelerating” due to both the software cost (most games cost between US$1-2) and the large range of older, quality games now rebooted for large-screen devices. The inherent cost of console gaming (Brazil for example, may sell the PS4 for US$1800, said Forbes) is a barrier for success in emerging markets, and mobile isn’t confined to one or two highly-expensive hardware platforms only. Factor in the cost of a US$60-80 game once or twice a month, and it’s easy to see why mobile gaming will continue to expand.

Ultimately, it’s all about the gameplay said Blau. “Moving forward, game developers will need to constantly deliver compelling games as the growth of content and platform choices drives game players in divergent directions,” said Mr Blau. “The propensity for a game player to choose any single game is based on their desire to play, and it’s the game developer and designer that best understand the cross-section of creativity and technology. As video games, their platforms and gameplay ideas continue to expand, so this will in turn drive demand for play.”



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