Older Consumers Adopt Handheld Gaming

Portable gaming devices experienced a growth year, with a major boost over the 2004 holiday season, followed by another lift in Q1 2005. The GamerMetrics report from IGN Entertainment (IGN) utilizes statistics collected from IGN’s portal, and shows expansion in handhelds’ “mindshare” within the gaming space. Mindshare is reader interest recorded on IGN’s portals.


Mobile Gaming Mind Share
Click to see Mobile Gaming Mind Share chart

The longstanding dominance of Nintendo’s GameBoy family was broken with the launch of the company’s own DS gaming system, though they still push the GameBoy Advance SP for younger gamers. At the end of Q1 of this year, Sony launched a competitive handheld, the PlayStation Portable (PSP). Other platforms in the market, including the Nokia nGage and cell phones with the capability to play games, have a smaller share of the portable universe. Projected numbers show interest in the next-generation systems, DS and PSP, dominating through the end of 2005. The DS is expected to build slightly higher mind share in Q4.

“Historically, handhelds, being dominated by the Nintendo GameBoy, was focused on the youth market,” Job Lawrence, product manager of IGN’s GamerMetrics, told ClickZ Stats. “People who grew up with games as kids are now in their thirties, which matches our audience demographic.”


Mobile Mindshare Will Steadily Increase in 2005
Click to see how the mobile mind share will steadily increase in 2005

Multiple handheld platforms are projected to create more competition for console and PC platforms according to IGN, with a share raising from 24 percent in Q1 2004 to a likely 36 percent of the gaming market by the fourth quarter. Sales and interest for the Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube consoles are tapering, as these are reaching the end of their lifecycles. However Microsoft is about to announce details of their next system, which could launch in time for the holidays and draw attention.

“What we see is less of a cannibalization of the console market from dedicated handheld systems, and more of a complimentary effect,” comments Jay Horwitz, senior analyst at Jupiter Research. “For most gamers, handhelds are not substitutes for consoles.”

The GamerMetrics report is collected from user behavior tracked on IGN’s properties including the IGN.com and GameSpy editorial sites, download portal FilePlanet, and a recently launched program to provide ads in games across all platforms.

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