Call it the "Angry Birds" effect. Apple and Android-based devices continue to grab a growing chunk of the U.S. video game market, according to new data from mobile app analytics firm Flurry. Paid game apps on the iOS and Android operating systems accounted for 8% of industry sales last year, or $800 million.
A year ago, Flurry reported that iPhone games alone had captured 5% of game sales in 2009, or $500 million. The increase this year is partly due to the launch of the iPad and other tablets, as well as the explosive growth of Android across different handsets and wireless networks. Of the $800 million total, however, the iPhone continued to account for the majority of game revenues.
The growth in smartphone game sales came chiefly at the expense of sales via portable game players, whose market share shrank from 24% to 16% last year. Console games accounted for the lion's share of revenues, with the segment's share increasing modestly to 76% from 71% in 2010. (The Flurry data doesn't include retail PC games or online digital game sales.)
Figuring smartphone-based game sales into the portable category, iOS and Android now account for more than one-third (34%) of the market, while the Nintendo DS share has contracted from 70% to 57%. Sony's PlayStation Portable has just 9%. Revenues in the portable segment overall declined from $2.7 billion to $2.4 billion in 2010.
Total U.S. game revenues last year were essentially flat, edging up to $10.7 billion from $10.4 billion in 2009. But mobile games were a bright spot. "It's clear that prolific installed base gains by Apple and Android devices, low-priced games (including a very robust free-to-play model enabled by in-app purchases) and seamless digital distribution to games on devices so near to consumers 24-hours-a-day, is driving potent industry-disruption," blogged Flurry marketing director Peter Farago.
The firm sees more of the same coming this year.
"Over 2011, we expect to see continued and significant smart-device game growth fueled by the recent launch of iPad 2, iPhone coming into distribution on Verizon, the expected release of iPhone 5, a relentless expansion of Android devices by leading OEMs across all major U.S. carriers, and Google's enablement of in-app purchase billing, a proven key driver in iOS game revenue," wrote Farago.
The Flurry findings are based on research released by companies such as NPD Group, combined with its own estimates of game category revenues from iOS and Android devices. The company's app analytics service tracks more than 12 billion anonymous, aggregated use sessions per month across more than 80,000 applications. Of that, nearly 40% of all consumer app sessions are spent on games.