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Phones Are Everywhere, But They Aren’t Killing Home Gaming

 

Maybe we're all getting a little carried away with this. Admittedly, a few birds did act strange, but that's no reason to...” – Sebastian Sholes, fisherman in diner, “The Birds,” Universal, 1963

Back in what our son now calls prehistoric time, games were one of the prime reasons guys joined the Homebrew Club. That and trying to figure out neat things to do with oversized, limited-capacity things called microprocessors.

Games – development and play – weren’t for the faint of heart. They were for the few…the proud…the males!

Really geeky guys who slept under their desks in the evening and fortified themselves with Twinkies followed their dreams to program winners that would work on Nolan Bushnell’s Atari systems.

A few years after the Tramiels took control of Atari, we worked with them off and on to promote the real guys’ systems including the Lynx and Jaguar…the first outstanding color screen systems you could play outside your darkened room.

The biggest portable game competitor was Nintendo with their ghastly grey-screened clamshell.

The serious guys--Sony, Sega and Microsoft--kept true to their market and gave you the consoles and games they knew you really wanted, needed.

Everyone had three-year product cycles and even with the ups/downs, it was still a guy’s “sport.”

When female players raised their voices, Mitch Brenner responded, “You're just a poor, innocent victim of circumstances.”

Struggling Nintendo served up the laughable Wii and OMG suddenly the whole family got involved.
 
 
Gamer Takes Her Place
Today, the game industry knows that 40% of the gamers are female and the median age is 35, so take that kid!

The game industry – hardware and software – has worked hard to capture the imagination of every segment of society…increasing the market penetration and broadening the audience.

The goal has been simple – incorporate video games into our daily culture, social fabric.
And they’ve done a pretty good job:
- 65% of American households play computer and video games
- 38% of American homes have a video game console
- The average game player is 35 years old
- One out of four gamers is over age 50
- Women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33%) than boys age 17 or younger (18%)
- 41% of Americans expect to purchase one or more games this year
- 63% of parents believe games are a positive part of their children's lives

Despite what the doomsayer in the diner said, “It's the end of the world,” games are a healthy distraction for people.

Console folks have also worked with anyone/everyone to get the console into the family mainstream with DVD players, iNet connectivity and on-demand video playing.

Still, Nintendo had the out-of-home market pretty much to themselves.

Games on feature phones were as anemic and simple minded as the early days, whereas smartphone producers wanted to give people reasons to upgrade beyond phone calls, email.

Always with You
So they had software dudes/dudettes develop smaller versions of their single and multi-person games. (Yes, they discovered that gals not only played games, they were “aggressive.”)


 
Power Downloads – Feature phones usually come with the simplest of game software bundled with them to help you run down your battery. The real smartphone users – iOS, Android, WP7 – go to the app store and download their games. Freemium and multi-player games are gaining ground because they get you in, keep you in and involve communities. Source – Nielsen

They loved the multi-player games because that meant…more air time!

The new smartphones are, as someone recently noted, “more powerful than the computers initially used to send men to the moon.”

In no time, folks were upgrading their phones to get games that were initially free became a buy for the newer, more action-packed games. Today, the games are so good and the personal interaction so challenging that the number of mobile game players keeps growing.


 

Gone Gamin’ – The earliest game players won’t admit it in meetings, but they still play a lot of games and the feature/smart phones give them a chance to keep their skills/reflexes in top condition. While younger kids claim leadership in mobile gaming, it’s the female who is the most serious, most aggressive player, and their numbers are growing. Source – eMarketer

Men and women, young and old upgraded to the newer, more powerful smartphones so they could experience better and longer play action.

Oh sure, they rationalize by saying they need the new phone so they can stay in touch with their social media friends, watch movies on the go, do their research/shopping, conduct business 24x7; but we both know…it’s the game!



Smartphone Biz – Men/women, young/old all say the reason they must upgrade to a smartphone is to improve their calling quality and stay in touch on important stuff using email and the iNet. O.K., they may have those apps and a lot of other business apps on their device, but it’s still the games that get most of the action. Source – Nielsen

But it’s O.K. It gets our kid out of his room and outside so he can enjoy a little fresh air and sunshine.
 


Time Consumption – For some of us, it’s a lot easier to do our online work with a decent-sized keyboard and screen; but increasingly, people want to do “everything” on a single device and for many millennials that means a smartphone most of the time. Source – comScore, Alexa, Flurry Analytics

Options Expand
But the phone gaming upswing has obviously had an impact on the in-home sales of consoles, games.

Recent Nielsen studies show:
- 59 percent of the smartphone users have downloaded games, 9 percent of feature phone users
- 61 percent said they had bought, used a game within the past month

Analyst Group Flurry reported that iOS, Android gaming sales exceeded $1.9 billion in 2011 and the developer industry is bullish that the market will only continue its steady growth in the years ahead.

They probably got their foothold when Cathy Brenner asked so innocently, “Can I bring the lovebirds, Mitch? They haven't harmed anyone.”


 
Going Growth – Let’s face it, the feature/smart phone is with you all the time and few of us would even consider leaving home without it. While there are still a lot of closet gamers (older, more “mature”) and people who don’t publicize their scores, they have no problem with catching a quick gaming fix on-the-go. And the numbers/amount of time involved keeps growing. Source – iSuppli

All they have to do is:
- Get their next version to be the killer gotta-have game that folks play alone or with others and…talk about
- Figure out how to make consumers aware of their new game

To understand why developers are so anxious to provide (pay) device manufacturers with freemium games, Nielsen noted that 40 percent of them found the new stuff directly on their phones.

In addition, 36 percent heard about them from friends and family.

Despite all the noise about people rushing to buy new smartphones and the spin game developers complaints that they are killing the old-fashioned game folks, it’s still a lot of smoke/mirrors.

Here to Play
Console and portable system purchases may be down, but they’re a long way from extinction and being retired to the museum.


 
Yeah But – According to the app store managers, developers and mobile analysts, the smartphone is going to gobble up the video game market. But the facts don’t quite correspond to the fiction. If anything, mobile gaming is not only a relaxing outlet all by itself, it probably stimulates increased sale of console systems for the family to play, enjoy. Source – Flurry Analytics

In fact, the mobile platforms only represent about eight percent of the U.S. multi-platform gaming market.

Around the globe computer-based/online gaming represents a greater share of the gaming market. (It’s called multi-tasking.)


 

Stress Break – While game software and apps have been flat for awhile, consumers of all ages are still investing and playing. Growth will continue in almost every segment as the games get richer, more complex, more interesting, more addictive. Source - PwC

The total U.S. game revenue in 2010 was $10.7 billion and console gaming continues to dominate overall revenues.

The segment that is struggling is portable gaming – Nintendo DS, Sony PS Portable – which continue to slide due in no small measure to smartphone-based gaming.

Nintendo’s president, Satoru Iwata, says his company is back on track and will definitely be delivering the solid game play that people really want/need.



It’s just real hard to get those **** birds out of their hair!


He agrees with Melaine Daniels, “Close that door, quickly.”