For decades gaming meant hooking up a games console to the television to play Super Mario Bros or Sonic the Hedgehog, but today we are using a wealth of different devices to play games, from dedicated gaming rig PCs to our smartphones.

Games consoles like the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox remain hugely popular devices, with both selling around five to ten million units each year. However, in the UK the percentage of people that report using these consoles is on the wane, from a high of 27 per cent in 2009 to 16 per cent today, according to the latest figures from the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom.

The ubiquity of mobile phones means that they have become the most common platform for people to play games, overtaking consoles by 2014 and the lead has been increasing since. Whilst it may be true that more people play platform-style video games or similar titles on a games consoles, far more people of all age groups are turning to their smartphones in their pocket to play a wider variety of titles from chess and solitaire to more involved games like Minecraft.

Devices used to play games

Devices used to play games. Ofcom/Statista

Globally, Google’s Android is the dominant mobile OS with around 75 per cent market share compared to around 23 per cent for Apple’s iOS, and so the majority of mobile gamers are using Android. However, the picture varies significantly between countries. In the US, iOS and Android are around level pegging, whilst in Europe Android leads with around 70 per cent of the market, and in China and India Android is in a hugely dominant position thanks to the budget and mid-range pricing of various Android phones. On the gaming front, Android also benefits from the ability to “sideload” games from outside the official Play Store, which opens up a vast number of games to players outside of Google’s ecosystem. For example, Nostrabet explained how to download the Bet365 app for Android from outside the Play Store, but the process is similar for any APK.

Smartphone processing power has increased rapidly over the last decade, but for those that are after the latest and greatest technology to play the most advanced games then PC gaming remains the best option. Games consoles may be similarly advanced when they are released, but the manufacturers only announce new hardware around every five years. By contrast, the likes of AMD and Nvidia will announce new video cards every twelve months, with a much more rapid pace of development. Hardcore gamers continue to choose PC gaming for the pace of change and the relatively low cost of building your own gaming rig compared to buying a new console on the year of release, and they continue to make up around ten per cent of gamers.

As both Microsoft and Sony prepare to launch new gaming consoles later this year, we are likely to see a spike in console gamers over the next 12 months, but the general trend over the coming years will continue to be more and more mobile gamers. The question will then be can anything beat the smartphone?


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