Video games are a big part of peoples’ lives, allowing players to connect with friends and relieve stress, and consoles are the vehicles. Since the first-ever console war in the 80s, the industry has been dominated by giants such as Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. UK households with access to a gaming console now stand at more than eight million.
It’s tempting to think that PlayStation and Xbox are unrivalled by those figures, yet it isn’t the case. Smartphones have been quietly taking over the iGaming sector for a while, to the point where 91% of phone users report playing games on their device in the last month.
Can smartphones become the new power? Here are the indicators that show they could in the future.
Men and boys are the main console users – women and girls are playing too, but they aren’t as common as the guys – but smartphone users, and the people who play games on them, overlap. Women love to play on their mobile devices because 61% say it helps them relax and 40% believe it’s more interesting. For developers, this consumer base is incredibly lucrative as it means they can advertise a range of products and services for different players. This is reflected in the offerings, as the App Store and Google Play let users download everything from The Candy Crush Saga to League of Legends and Angry Birds. Betfair, a safe online bingo website, concentrates on digital bingo and scratch cards. Their RNG-driven games can be played both on desktops and mobile, which is one of their strongest appeals to the modern generation of gamers. Meanwhile Pokémon Go is a favourite globally, earning the developers $894mn in player spending.
A feature of smartphones that put them at the forefront of a gaming revolution is the numbers. 80% of UK adults own or have access to a mobile phone, which encourages downloads. App-wise, Statista highlights that twenty-billion were downloaded in the UK in 2020 alone, a boost of over four-billion in 2018. With this level of accessibility, it’s not hard to see how smartphones are starting to challenge consoles. In comparison, the eight million consoles in UK households are tiny when you consider smartphones’ popularity. And while they are used for different things, the average usage clearly shows more phone owners rely on their devices to game.
Three hours and 23 minutes per day – that’s the average screen time for a person in the UK. Over a year, this equates to fifty hours staring at a screen and scrolling through messages, social media and the internet. However, gaming is beginning to rank highly since, according to Wired Shopper, over 64% of people download one right away on a new phone. Not only does the level of time spent on a phone in the UK mean it’s more likely for people to play games, but a significant percentage of smartphone users actively split their time between gaming and everything else modern devices have to offer.
The figures highlight how more people are using phones as vehicles for gaming. In the future, the fact that 5G and streaming technology – Microsoft has developed the xCloud – will improve only increases the odds of smartphones taking over as the kings of the gaming world.