It’s no secret that the handheld gaming market is massive. In fact, Statista states that it’s expected to reach a whopping $1.37 billion in value in 2024, with 30.1 million users enjoying online games by 2027.
So what exactly is driving this trend?
The rise of smartphones
The World Economic Forum says that “there are now more mobile phones than people in the world”. “There were more than 8.58 billion mobile subscriptions in use worldwide in 2022, compared to a global population of 7.95 billion”.
The worldwide dominance of smartphones has taken place over a relatively short period of time. The BBC says that a mobile phone inventor from Motorola made the first phone call only 50 years ago, in April 1973. It weighed “790g (1.7lb) – nearly four times the weight of the iPhone 14” and would “just dial the number and make the call”.
Fast forward to today, and the technology we have at our fingertips is astounding.
The popularity of smartphones has led to a rise in handheld gaming, with many graphic and data-heavy games now being played on the devices we use every day. From online bingo that can be played on the go to more action-packed games, there’s no shortage of options for smartphone users.
The advancement of technology
The increasing popularity of handheld games may also be attributed to the advancement of handheld technology. Manufacturers are offering more powerful consoles than ever before, with amazing graphics and processing capabilities.
Games we can play on the go are now incredibly realistic and detailed, allowing users to fully immerse themselves in whatever universe they’re playing in. With advanced GPUs and processors, characters are brought to life and virtual worlds feel closer to reality.
The quality of handheld consoles today has certainly made this mode of gaming appeal to increasing numbers of users across the world.
Increase in travel
Travel took a hit during the coronavirus pandemic when people were forced to stay home and limit contact with others. Now, it seems that people are keen to make up for lost time.
Euronews explains that “in the first half of 2022, European airports saw an almost 250% increase in passenger volumes, according to data from ACI Europe”.
In 2023, “an estimated 975 million tourists travelled internationally between January and September 2023, an increase of 38% on the same months of 2022” says UNWTO (World Tourism Organisation).
Those heading off to explore the world are looking for ways to entertain themselves during the journey. This may have led to an increase in purchases of handheld consoles, such as the Steam Deck and Asus ROG Ally.
There’s no doubt that handheld consoles have come full circle. From the hugely popular Gameboys and PSPs that were rife in the 90s and 00s to the technologically advanced online games we play today.
How do you think the world of handheld gaming will evolve over the next 20 to 30 years?