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Study Reveals PS Vita’s Struggling Userbase; Half Of Mobile Gaming Users Are Women

A newly released study performed by the mobile device research institute App Annie Intelligence, using data collected by IDC, has found that the Playstation Vita is lagging in last place under many handheld markers. It was also found that half of all mobile gamers are female, among other findings about the handheld and app-based gaming market.

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It’s unclear why PSP and PSV are put together in the same category- which may suggest PSV is selling worse than is indicated. [Image courtesy of App Annie Intelligence and IDC].

The study, published online on Wednesday, revealed a lot of information about the mobile gaming market; but a key trend which is present throughout is that the PS Vita is struggling against the higher number of users on Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, and Nintendo 3DS platforms. The data states that while the mobile device userbase is over 1.3 billion (not displayed), with huge increases in Android shares, gaming-only handheld devices hover around 200 million- and the PS Vita and PSP specifically have seen a markedly lower sales compared to Nintendo’s 3DS. The only platform with a lower sales and userbase is the now 9 year old original Nintendo DS, which was originally a competitor with the Playstation Portable.

Stars represent new entries for the quarter. [Image courtesy of App Annie Intelligence and IDC]

Stars represent new entries for the quarter. [Image courtesy of App Annie Intelligence and IDC]

If we examine the top sold games on each platform, the facts become ever clearer. Out of the 5 top games from Q3 sales on Google Play and the iOS App store, two are the same title; but the gaming-optimized handheld market’s top games are dominated entirely by Nintendo 3DS games. The PS Vita doesn’t have a single title on the top 5 selling handheld gaming device market. Although  this does include only games which are sold boxed and digital, not digital-only releases (which may contribute a significant amount to PS Vita sales on the PSN).

Against the mobile devices like iOS and Android ones, the handheld gaming-optimised userbase is a tiny fraction. Mobile devices  currently dominate the handheld gaming industry- even the Kindle Fire was noted in the data as having a surprisingly large uptake. In  Q2 to Q3- that is, into the holiday buying season- sales on the gaming-optimised platforms saw a strong rebound, but one which,  unlike previous years, didn’t overtake the mobile market of Google Play. Google Play held the lead despite big title releases in Q3.

The study also revealed that non-gaming apps outpaced gaming apps, despite massive sales in the App-based platforms’ gaming markets.

[Image courtesy of App Annie Intelligence and IDC]

[Image courtesy of App Annie Intelligence and IDC]

For the “what is your favourite gaming-only device” study (results above), the Android platforms rated almost the same as iOS, as US gamers’ favourite mobile/handheld gaming device, despite the fact that iOS has three times the sales revenue generated from games (not displayed). The reasons behind this are hard to gauge; it perhaps suggests that more games sales on iOs are throwaway purchases, or that the iOS’ optimization and streamlined interface for purchasing makes mobile gaming easier and this may be winning the App-race for them.

If we recall the “Top 5 Games” image above, not a single title in the iOS’ top 5 were new- whereas three of the Google Play’s top 5 for the quarter were new entries. This suggests, especially in consideration of the favourite-platform evidence, that Google Play may have a more “hardcore” audience for gaming. Android Gamers value Google Play nearly as much as the iOS App Store, but enjoy newer games on Google Play more than iOs, suggesting a more cutting-edge mobile gaming culture.

Page 13 and 14 App Annie and IDC Portable Gaming Analysis

App Annie’s analysis of two smaller studies in June 2013 found that, across the mobile platforms of iPad and Android Smartphones, the ratio of users by gender are almost identical. The study found that 53% of iPad-specific gamers were female, and that 54% of Android Smartphone users were female. This shows, perhaps surprisingly to some, that more than half of the gaming-only userbase on these platforms is female. It also found that they were almost the same average age; 41 for Android gamers and 42 for iPad gamers, a figure which may also surprise some.

However, these studies were only performed with a sample size of 1117 individuals, and furthermore, one was performed on a tablet device (the iPad) and one on a smartphone device (Android Smartphones) so the devices in question aren’t necessarily parallel as equivalent pairs nor represent the largest install bases. The bulk of the findings also reinforced the intuitive conclusion that iPad users and Android Smartphone users largely prefer to game on affiliated devices; iPhones and Android tablets respectively.

These June studies did find, however, that the PS Vita came in as the lowest rated “Also Regularly Game On” device for iPad or Android smartphone device gamers. People who mostly play on iPad’s and Android Smartphones tend not to play the PS Vita.

Across the board, the Playstation Vita is turning up as the lowest common denominator in terms of userbase. Which is a pity, in my opinion. What seems like a powerful, solid handheld gaming device is obviously perceived as an expensive, or less convenient relic in the eyes of the huge, mobile gaming public.

App Annie Intelligence is a firm who specialise in app market intelligence in the form of download and revenue estimates. The IDC are an American international market research firm who specialize in information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology.

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