Gartner is one of the leading research firms in the world, so when they make projections about a given industry, people tend to listen. Today, Gartner released their forecast for the video game industry and it is pretty rosy. They project a 10% growth in sales this year, and predict the industry will grow by nearly 50% in the next four years.
While the picture painted is colorful, it isn't necessarily good news for traditional video game manufacturers like Nintendo and Sony. That new growth will primarily be driven by mobile and social gaming platforms.
A couple months back, the iPhone earned a Guinness World Record as the fastest selling portable gaming device in history. The fact that Guinness recognizes the iPhone as a gaming device speaks volumes to how things are changing.
Sony, the maker of the popular PlayStation line of gaming devices, was the first company to create a smartphone designed specifically for gaming. Officially known as the Xperia Play, the phone was nicknamed the PlayStation phone for months before its release. It's not hard to see where the nickname comes from, as the Xperia play comes with a slide out game pad that features the PlayStation's iconic circle, square, triangle and x buttons.
As cell phone manufacturers continue to take gaming into account when designing cell phones, game developers are also rethinking things. Companies like Rovio (Angry Birds) were made possible strictly because of smartphones. But some of the bigger names in video games are also developing Smartphone specific games.
Electronic Arts might be the biggest name in traditional video games that have started developing games specifically for phones. Namco, who's first major hit dates all the way back to the original Pac Man is adapting games for mobile as well.
What this means for the gaming industry as a whole remains to be seen. Nintendo has already said that they have no immediate plans to enter the cell phone market. Microsoft, which makes the X-box, has a version of X-Box live available on their Windows Phone 7 platform. And as we mentioned, Sony has already entered the mobile space from a hardware perspective because of their history as a cell phone manufacturer as well.
Clearly we are entering a transition phase in the video game market, and those who are best equipped to adapt will thrive. Those that are stuck in their old way will likely be replaced by upstart companies like Rovio.
Posted by David Yi, Social Media and SEO Assistant at Wireless Emporium