news\ Sep 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Smartphones, mobile devices overtaking traditional gaming consoles, NPD survey finds


Despite the sales success of the Nintendo 3DS, results from an NPD Group survey indicate a much more troubling future for Nintendo (and possibly other traditional console makers): kids prefer mobile devices from Apple and Android over traditional handheld game devices like the DS and 3DS.

According to the survey, 26% of kids ages 2 to 17 play games on iPhones, up from 11% in 2011. By comparison, 25% of kids surveyed play games on the Nintendo DS, down from 37% two years ago. It's worth noting that since then we've seen Nintendo release the 3DS, a portable device that allows games to be played in 3D without glasses; however, the survey found that the 3DS is only being used by 9% of young people.

It's not just the iPhone that's seen an increase in usage either. The survey found that 21% of kids play games on Apple's iPad, up from 5% in 2011, and 19% play games on the iPod Touch, up from 18%. Android devices have also gained traction with 23% reportedly preferring the platform, though this specific category was not measured two years ago.

Overall, NPD's survey found that over half (53%) of mobile device users are spending more time playing on these devices compared to last year. Teens ages 12 to 17 in particular are spending seven hours per week gaming on mobile devices compared to just five hours per week in 2011.

“Kids embrace change, adopting new devices and technologies, for the experience of gaming and accessing other entertainment content and it is critical to understand the current mindset of the highly engaged 2 to 17 year old gamer,” said Liam Callahan, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Kids are engaged with mobile devices as less expensive tablets and an increasing amount of hand-me-down phones create greater accessibility to these platforms than before.”

Although mobile devices are quickly gaining traction among young people, desktop computers, laptops, and consoles remain the "top devices" for gaming, the survey found. However, this latest trend should definitely be of concern to traditional game makers Sony, Microsoft, and particularly Nintendo which has dominated the handheld space.

“The question becomes whether this mobile usage will continue to grow for 2 to 17 year olds, and if usage will become more prevalent than gaming on consoles and computers as time progresses. More importantly, we need to understand how these forms of gaming provide different types of experiences for young gamers,” Callahan concluded.


An online survey was fielded from June 26 to July 18, 2013, to a representative sample of female adults ages 21 to 60 who are members of NPD’s online panel and have children ages 2 to 17 in the household. Respondents with more than one child in the specific age range were instructed to bring the child who had the next birthday to the computer. Parents of very young children were asked to complete the survey on behalf of their child. The study is based on 3,842 children ages 2 to 17 who currently play video games on any devices.

[NPD Group via Investors]

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