Pretty much everyone knows iOS is a great gaming platform. Heck, that’s why we’re all here right? But what would really be interesting to know is just how well the iOS platform compares to the actual dedicated gaming systems of the past 30+ yeas of video game history. Fortunately, the folks over at Asymco are pretty fond of crunching numbers and providing analysis, and they’ve figured a metric to reasonably compare iOS to other gaming consoles.
During the WWDC keynote this year, Apple announced that Game Center had hit the 130 million user mark and it’s with this that Asymco gauges iOS’s relevance as a gaming handheld compared to the old guard. And based on Apple’s numbers, iOS just barely comes in third all time behind the Nintendo DS and Playstation 2. Last year OpenFeint touted their own number of 180 million users, which makes sense seeing as it was around for more than a year before Game Center. Based on that number, iOS would be at the number two all time spot.
The numbers are all very impressive, and every day it seems like more and more people are turning to iOS for their gaming habits. But there are some things to consider, too. Many non-typical gamers might get an iOS device, and more than likely one of the first stops they’ll make is the App Store to see what their cool new toy can do. This inevitably leads to the top game charts, where much of the top 25 or so games consists of the same titles that have been topping those charts for a long time.
So, just because your average non-gaming consumer downloads Angry Birds and signs up for Game Center doesn’t necessarily mean those people are prolonged active players. However, you could say pretty much the same thing about people who bought a DS during the Brain Age craze, or those who picked up a PS2 as their first DVD player and the gaming aspect was just a cool bonus.
That 130 million number might not be all “hardcore” gamers, but it still seems like a good measuring stick up against the dedicated consoles. I think what this really shows is that the hardcore gaming audience is still a pretty small slice of the population, and during different eras there always seems to be something that breaks through to the mainstream and brings gaming into a much wider audience.
The “dedicated game console vs. iOS platform” debate tends to get pretty nasty, but I’ve always been of the opinion that iOS doesn’t need to run the other guys out of town to be a major player. There will always be an audience who wants their dedicated handheld game system, and there’s an even bigger number of people who use their smartphones and tablets as a catalyst to get into gaming themselves. Then there are a good amount of people just like me who feel their iOS devices adequately fill the need of those dedicated gaming handhelds.
What numbers like this really show though is that iOS as a gaming platform has definitely broken into the big time, and regardless of how you feel about it as a game system it can’t be ignored. I look forward to the number of Game Center users to hit the 200 million mark, which Asymco believes can happen before the end of the year, and it would be the first game system to ever reach that lofty number.