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.

[Ars Technica via Asymco]

  • aced411

    How is a game center account any way to measure the amount of gaming on iOS?  How many people bought an iPhone (not for gaming) and opened the app out of curiosity? Doesn't mean you spend anytime playing games.  This VS sales of game consoles that people bought strictly for gaming.  What a ridiculously retarded comparison.  

    • ducksFANjason

      It's not retarded at all. It's an attempt to make a comparison. No one is saying that this means the iOS devices are the definitive best gaming devices ever. They're attempting to find a way to determine how many people game on an iOS device and then just compare that number to how many gamers of other devices there have been. If for some reason something that simple offends you then I can't imagine how your fragile mind can stand to read the rest of the ridiculously offensive content the rest of the internet has to offer.

      As for the actual use of GC accounts as a measure of gamers, that's not too bad of a stretch. The open-feint accounts way outnumber GC and OF is specifically for gamers. Plus, that doesn't take into account those people who game WITHOUT GC so it probably washes out those people who created a GC account without actually gaming at all.

      • MFCH

        Yeah, but I don't know a single person that bought an iOS device for gaming. Every other device listed is a true console. Where's the number on TI-83 calculators? PCs? Macbooks? Steam? Game and Watch? Tiger Electronics? Android-based devices?

        This is whole comparison is just silly.

      • ducksFANjason

        So we should avoid comparing anything in the event that some people may find it silly? They did the research and it was posted in case anyone was curious. I find it fascinating and have wondered about these statistics myself. If you personally find it silly, that's fine as well. But the OP said it was retarded, which gives the impression that they believe this information shouldn't have been posted at all. Saying it's retarded doesn't offer any insight. It's just a loaded word that (in this case) is meant to shock and distract from the actual discussion.

      • Vince

        Damn..I miss playing puzzle bobble and mario on my Ti-84 plus =/

      • Richenbaum Fotchenstein

         awww yeah ti-83 with drug wars...

      • aced411

        You are assuming I disagree with the headline, but that's a false assumption.  I happen to think iOS puts gaming in the hands of not only tons of gamers but people who normally wouldn't consider it.  That's besides the point.  This a perfect example of a skewed statistics.  Compare apples to apples.  Game sales to game sales.  How many cartridges did Super Nintendo sell compared to how many iOS games have been sold?  If the answer is iOS, that's fine.  At least it's a fair comparison.

      • Vince

        Agreed.. the statistics presented here are rather meaningless. This is the problem with non dedicated gaming devices I suppose >.>

      • ducksFANjason

        I agree that it would be foolish to draw a conclusion based on these statistics , such as "more ios devices were sold as a game device specifically than playstations" etc. But making a comparison between the sales of a dedicated gaming device and the number of (assumed) ios gamers is a perfectly normal comparison as long as it's acknowledged that they are not in direct competition. Everyone here who plays iOS games understands that already, so why is it such a crime to compare these two? Who says I'm not allowed to compare apples to oranges? Why does there have to be such a restriction? No one is saying that based off of these numbers we can argue that iOS is the greatest gaming platform ever. This is just a simple comparison meant to highlight how popular iOS gaming is.

        Think of it this way: the chart is meant to say "Here is how popular some of the greatest gaming platforms have been. Now look at how popular gaming iOS gaming is." That's it. There is no "...therefore all other systems should be destroyed" or anything of that nature so just let the comparison be exactly that. A comparison and nothing more.

  • Adams Immersive

    There are also some number of iOS gamers who never used Game Center or OpenFeint. They may still game every day! I have relatives like that—they play a handful of games they love, but they play them a lot.

  • Robert Funnell

    I think this is kind of an unfair comparison. While yes, PS2 etc did have other features like DVD players, predominantly they were gaming consoles, and so only really gamers picked them up. Many more people buy iOS devices for other reasons predominantly - like as phones etc - and so the number of iOS devices shipped cannot really be compared to number of other gaming consoles shipped, just like you wouldn't count the number of PCs shipped worldwide and claim that as the best selling games console.

    However, the number of Openfeint and Game Center accounts certainly highlights the gaming appeal, yet again it's so easy to essentially have the game create an account and sign you in that for many people who do only play Angry Birds or have only played it for a few minutes yet made an account, the graphics may be misleading on how many people actually *game* on it. The same can arguably be said for the Brain Age phenomenon yet due to the fact that the DS was a gaming-focused console you can probably assume people used it more. I doubt any non-gamers would buy a PS2 for its DVD player in the same way people buy iOS devices for non-gaming functionality so that's a pretty weak argument.

    While it is obvious that iOS gaming is the future and is massive compared to other consoles, especially due to its relatively recent debut, I don't think it can - from these stats - really be definitely classed as the biggest gaming console ever or most selling.

    • Relytgninroht

      Wow, you beat me to the PC argument. 

      As for the PS2 DVD thing, I agree- that is kind of an unfair comparison. I do know that the PS3 on the other hand had a reputation for being bought by non-gamers as a cheap blu-ray player when it first released. So PS3 as a blu-ray player would have  worked better.

  • Relytgninroht

    Except that a lot of the people counted here only have one or two games on their phone that they don't play much. Know a lot of people with iPhones like that. Don't really think that counts. Wouldn't consider my old dumb-phone a gaming console just because I had Tetris on it.

    Also, why isn't PC on this list? I'm sure if we count things that only have one game on them, then practically all PCs count as gaming systems. Best selling game system ever right there.

    I love to play games on both, but I'd never call either a gaming system. That's not what they were ever designed for- it's just an additional feature in my opinion. I do agree that smartphones probably won't cause the dedicated gaming console to die out- but I do think there will be some point where they kind of start merging together (we have already started seeing this with things like the PS Vita).

  • thesmashingone

    How are there more openfeint accounts than game center ones?

    • Relytgninroht

      Openfeint has been around a lot longer, and still is around- though it's a part of GREE now.

    • nosignalinput

      Because, as it says in the article, it was around over a year before game center was released.

  • MFCH

    You could ship refrigerators with Game Center and they'd be high on the scale too. Doesn't mean anything. 

  • aced411

    Not meant to distract at all...  The headline itself is misleading and meant to get reader attention.  If you look at the trail of information it's the perfect example of  attention grabbing journalistic statistics skewing.

    Original Source headline ""Measuring iOS as a gaming platform"

    Headline of source you referenced:  "Data suggests iOS may be the most popular gaming platform of all time"

    Touch Arcade headline:  "The iOS platform is among the most popular game systems of all time"

  • aced411

    "But the OP said it was retarded, which gives the impression that they believe this information shouldn't have been posted at all. Saying it's retarded doesn't offer any insight. It's just a loaded word that (in this case) is meant to shock and distract from the actual discussion."

    Not meant to distract at all...  The headline itself is misleading and meant to get reader attention.  If you look at the trail of information it's the perfect example of  attention grabbing journalistic statistics skewing.
    Original Source headline ""Measuring iOS as a gaming platform"
    Headline of source you referenced:  "Data suggests iOS may be the most popular gaming platform of all time"
    Touch Arcade headline:  "The iOS platform is among the most popular game systems of all time"

    • ducksFANjason

      That's the point to headlines: to grab your attention. Otherwise most people wouldn't read the article and would move on.

      As for the title here, it says it's AMONG popular gaming platforms. It's not saying it IS the most popular. If you don't like the headline then say that, but calling the whole article retarded as a result of a poorly-written headline is, in itself, retarded.

      • Vince


      • aced411

        There's a comments box and I expressed my opinion.  I'll leave it at that.  There's a lot of good articles here.

  • Benjamin Rodriguez

    still addicted to computer games for the most part, which I suppose isn't really relevant to the topic since it wasn't included. But until games like batman arkham city can be fully implemented onto a portable handheld (which honestly could be sooner then most people think) I'll still probably keep my computer around, since I highly doubt I'll be buying anything past my 360 and wii. Computers just never get old (not literally just figuratively)

    off topic: haven't been on TA in forever. Missed you guys

  • Nicole Hunter

    So it's not really a Good comparison just because there's no way to separate the people who actually use a i device as a handheld vs people who just pick up a free game to waste a few minutes of time.  I mean... iphone is a popular platform.  The most in terms of how many people access video games on it because it's virtually everyone but at the same time there's kind of no good way to make the distinction between the two categories of people... sooooo I don't know what else to say.  When I saw i-devices shipped on here I swear to god I wanted to go shoot the person who made the chart.  The thing about devices shipped is that i-products are popular among people who 100% use it for business or people who barely understand what an app is.  (Old people mates) so when referring to how many devices was ship there is no intelligent way to compare that. 

  • LightofHonor

    I mean it's kinda like comparing 360 owners to PC owners. 99% of 360 owners got it mostly for gaming while I would say only about 5% of people use their PC mainly for games, if that. Farmville doesn't count. So that's like saying "PC is the most popular gaming device ever!" which it could still very well be, but the 1 billion PC's out there aren't all playing Crysis and Starcraft. 

  • Greyskull

    Judging by this metric, wouldn't Facebook have every device beat? Does anyone here seriously consider "'Ville" clones games?

  • BruteOutlawz

    Cool article, iOS is growing quick. It has it's pitfalls but overall it's a great experience. The games that are coming out now are amazing on the 4s, batman, gta 3, nova 3, the walking dead, asphalt 7 and the list goes on. With the iPhone 5 release not to far away, things are going to step up in gaming terms. We still have some issues to work out though, controls being the main one, I'm good with touch controls but most people are turned off by them. I really don't understand why apple don't release a controller that attaches to the phone like icontrolpad, I have a icp and it's great. Long live iOS/Apple

  • DecafTable

    Honestly consoles will die out eventually. Just look at how long it has taken them to jump to the next generation. iOS is perfect! No more will I pay $60 for a game and bored one week later lol

    • Richenbaum Fotchenstein

      which is totally different than paying $6 for a game and being bored one day later 😉

  • PressureFM

    So this just goes to show what we already knew:

    That casual gaming is a far larger market than dedicated gaming devices like consoles and handheld consoles. Whoopy.

  • farnsworth_pro

    "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


    Open Feint has been on ANDROID OS as well since 2010.

    How could one possibly infer that it reflects iOS gamers in numbers when it combines users of both iOS and Android?

  • WarMachine

    Ever since iPhones and COD came out, numbers no longer mean anything anymore....

  • Becko

    Everybody played at least once on their iOS device, so YES all iOS devices in existence are GAME devices too 🙂

  • Biendeo

    I'm not an Apple fan, and I know I'm extremely biased. But you have to note a couple of things for these stats.
    Firstly, Game Centre is available for iPod Touches, iPhones, iPads, and Macs. That's desktop computers, tablets, phones, and personal organisers, all in one stat. Compared with the other systems, that's just one system. There'd obviously be a high number because they're several systems put into one stat.
    Secondly, as said before, the Game Centre includes desktop computers, phones, and other portable devices. These are all different, but games are side features. A Nintendo DS is intended for games, that's all it does. An iPhone is intended as a phone with an operating system capable of games. And since Game Centre is built-in, people are enclined to create an account on it. For example, my father has an account on his Game Centre, although he doesn't play any games on it.
    Thirdly, the number of games in the App Store is about outside quantity. Sure, there may be a lot more games on iOS than on a DS, but here's the thing, a game on a DS is developed over several months by rather large teams who go through publishers and debug teams to fully perfect their game. The App Store just check the game to see if it's not a scam, and then release it. So while it's easier for small groups to make games, that also means games can be utter garbage and go on the store. And also, the average game on iOS would be about $3, while a DS would be about $30. However, a DS game probably has about 10 times more content to justify its price. So while there may be less DS games, there'd be 10 times more gameplay than the average iOS app.
    Fourthly, Apple are really spreading propaganda. In their recent keynote, they referenced the iPod Touch as the "World's most popular game system". This is a vague statement. Is it popular because you see it more? Or is it because of sales? Or is it because of, leading back to that, the number of games it has? We may never know.
    Fifthly, iPhones and iPods and stuff are uniform, meaning there's only one of them. If we counted all the Nokia phones back in, say, 2004, you'd note there's a large number of them. Sure, not as large as the iPhone, but there'd be a large number of Nokia phones back in the day. Now, let's imagine instead of 50 different phones, it was just one. Everyone had that one phone. It's easier to say iPhone than Nokia 5100, 5200, 5300, etc. I'll relate this to Androids today as well. There are many different Android phones, from different manufacturers. This makes it difficult to document the number of Android phones. If you're going to consider iPhones, you may as well consider every other type of phone, since they all technically had games on them. Therefore they're gaming systems according to this policy.
    Sixthly, just back to Macs being considered as part of Game Centre, why not consider PCs as well. They don't count because everyone has one. They're a completely different market, PCs run programs, that games just so happen to be on. And it's a very viable option for games.
    Now, if PCs don't count, Macs don't count, because they're not intended for games. This means iPhones don't count, because their main intention is to be a phone, not a gaming system. And if I'm really stingy, the iPod Touch doesn't count as a game system because it's intention was to play music, referring back to the "iPod" part of its name.
    One long-winded argument later, I've come to the conclusion that we, as human beings, should separate iPhones and such from gaming systems, their intentions are much different, and they're confusing the public. Drag PCs out of it, drag Androids out, drag Macs out. They're all not intended for gaming. They only have the option of gaming, but not the main intention.
    If you'd like to rebut my argument, please, go ahead.
    Thanks for your time.