Tablets Mean Trouble For Consoles And Gaming Portables

With new handheld devices from Sony and Nintendo either out or on the horizon, it's understandable (if a little puzzling) that execs from both companies insist that tablets won't affect the prospects of the Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita. People still want gadgets that are primarily about games, the suits say. Buttons matter!

But new findings from market research firm GfK MRI tell a different story. Their iPanel initiative polled a pool of 3000 tablet and ereader owners and found that 59 per cent of them say they play games less on a home or a handheld console. It's noted that they're not doing less gaming; they're just doing it elsewhere. And games stand out as the most popular kind of content on tablets, too, besting other categories like social networking and entertainment.

This kind of news may be bad for Nintendo, which doesn't operate in the tablet sector, but there might be hope for Sony. With PlayStation-branded tablets as part of their product roadmap, there may be hope that they might be able to recoup the fingertips lost by shifting gaming habits. Can Nintendo's Slide Pad add-on for the 3DS entice all those tablet gamers away? Based on Ashcraft's last hands-on report, all signs point to... maybe? Well, there's always the Wii U. That's tablet-y, right?.

For Tablet Owners, Tablets Are Displacing Consoles/Handhelds for Gaming [MarketWatch]

Top photo: pedrosek/Shutterstock


    Buttons do matter, but Joe Public doesn't play "real" games so doesn't know this - unfortunately that's where the money is.

      Define a 'real' game.


          Great game, I loved it when you managed to get your entire little car filled up

      What is a "real" game? I despise this sort of "gamer" mentality.

    There are some games that do benefit from touch controls, but I'm coming to grips that I am now one of those old fashioned people that like buttons and games that use buttons.

    Very much looking forward to the PS Vita.

    I can understand tablets being competition for portables like the NDS and PSV, but not consoles.

    I *might* stop carring my DS if I had a tablet that played comparable/better games, but battery life would be a major issue.

    I just can't see how a tablet would replace a console though. Perhaps for hooking it up to a TV in a hotel room or something...

    I'd like to see a breakdown of demographics within that though - I agree with [doa].

    I'd posit that, in recent years, a large number of (dare I say it) 'casual' gamers bought dedicated handhelds in addition to the 'traditional' gamers, due to lack of options.

    However, now that smartphones and tablets etc. offer plenty of games at extremely cheap prices (disregarding the cost of the device), I think many of the casual gamers are shifting across to them, as they don't see the investment in a $50-60 handheld game worth the asking price.

    In the meantime, I imagine - at least for now - that the traditional gamers are hanging on to their handhelds. So, while there certainly may be fewer people playing dedicated handhelds overall, I think there would be some upper limit to the number of people who would switch to phones and tablets. That may change as the latter devices catch up, in gaming terms, with handhelds, but I reckon it would be the case for the time being.

    (I hope that didn't come across as me being against casual gaming).

    Halo, NDS, Wii, iPhone, Facebook and now tablets all really brought gaming as a pasttime to a new population of people who never thought of themselves as "gamers". This new marketplace is just so much larger than the old console+portable paradigm that consoles/dedicated portables will naturally be less dominant players in the scene.

    However this does not spell trouble. The same kind of people who bought Playstation before will buy Playstation again. Even though there are *even more* people in the previously-untapped smartphone/social gaming markets, the growing acceptance of gaming as a pasttime has expanded the market for *all* kinds of gaming experiences and IMHO actually strengthened the prospects for the traditional platforms.

    Of course, Nintendo's execution re: the 3DS leaves a lot to be desired and Sony/MS have had to respond appropriately also by ensuring their machines meet consumer demand. But that's business!

    I'd like to know how many of those 3000 actually own anything other than a tablet.

      A sample size of 3000 is a joke, especially since they're all tablet owners. How many own other consoles too? How often do they play games? Did they only start playing games after buying a tablet?

      I've been considering getting a tablet, but I've never considered games a viable reason! My Xbox can provide a far better experience than any tablet could and it needs the buttons to do that.

        Actually, if they were sampled randomly from the general population, 3000 respondents is probably 2000 more than was needed. A sample size of 60 can make predictions that are 99% reliable if the effect size is large enough.

    I would say trouble for gaming portables but not consoles, but maybe 2 or 3 years when the hardware in tablets gets a lot better and win 8 is out there will be some issues if the next console gen isn't out and tablets have the better OS and hardware.

    Gotta agree. The noobs that use tablets don't know what a real game is all about. They're only interested in social/casual gaming.

      and what is a real game all about?

      why do you "gamers" get so bristled up about people enjoying games? Just relax, games come in all shapes and sizes and are there for everyone to enjoy. Your attitude is like race car drivers calling everyone with a normal car 'noobs'.

      I enjoy gears on my console as much as I enjoy ff3 on my tablet, so where do I fit in to your categorisation?

        You mean the actual game that you're playing via an emulator as opposed to angry birds and other things that they're far more likely to be referring to?

          How is ff3 an 'actual' game and angry birds not an 'actual' game? The tablet is no more an emulator than the DS was. In this case I'm playing a game borne from another console of course, but Chaos Rings is just as complex as ff3, and was designed specifically for the tablet.

          Angry birds, Rage, Wii Sports, Tiny Wings, StarCraft, Forza4, Snake II.

          Which ones of those games are 'real' games and why? The answer is that they are all real games, because they are games, and they exist.

            Is a go-kart a proper car because it has the same basic features of one?

            As for comparing Chaos Rings to FF3? Cmon, different times and different technological imitations.

              No a go-kart isn't a car, but it IS a vehicle in the same way that a car is a vehicle. I mean in complexity in game design, not in graphics etc.

                Exactly. It's not a real car. It has the most basic features of a real car but that doesn't make it one.

                And who said anything about graphics? Complexity of game design was still restricted by technology. That's why in the early days of gaming the games with the most advanced stories and player/character mechanics were mostly text-based and why the more graphically orientated games were rather simple and straight forward.

                  So going back to the original comment then, would you say than people who have fun driving go-karts are 'noobs' compared to people who drive cars?

                  Actually, planes or boats would probably be a much better example! A go-kart is not a lame car, its a vehicle that is designed to be different to, but shares similarities with a car. Perhaps it would be better to compare the types of games to a cessna 182 and an airbus 380, or a dinghy to the QE2. Both planes are still "real planes", both boats are still "real boats", they are just different scales and serve different purposes. In the same way Snake is still a "real game" compared to Rage.

    Maybe it is just me but the fact it was called the "iPanel initiative" instantly raised a red flag for me.

    There is also a portable game market for people who are not hardcore gamers but enjoy games and just want something to make the trip from A to B more enjoyable. I have friends who got a PSP just for this reason. I am not sure what percentage of the portable owning population is but these people are much more likely to just go with the tablet if they have games that are enjoyable enough to keep them entertained for an hour long trip as well as the ability to check their email, etc

    You shouldn't be comparing it like this. Sony and Nintendo are specific to games, while the tablet isn't. Sure a lot of people will buy tablets for gaming but they also use it for a large number of other things too. Also if you take into account that tablets have a larger manufacturer base and a cheaper game cost, of course more people are going to use tablets for gaming than for gaming specific platforms.

    Starting to sound a little like the naysayers that say consoles will kill PC games. Or mobile phones will kill handhelds ect ect

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