The International Gamers Survey from NewZoo reported Friday that Apple "has entered the major league of the portable gaming market" and is poised to overtake Nintendo in the U.S.
American Nintendo DS and DSi gamers total 41 million, compared to Apple's 40.1 million iOS gamers. The data was collected from over 10,000 respondents in June 2010.
Apple now has more than twice the mobile gamer base as Sony, which had just 19 million U.S. gamers. Nintendo and Apple share significant overlap, with 14 million U.S. mobile gamers playing games on both the iPod touch and the Nintendo DS.
The survey also found that Apple's iOS has outstripped the Sony Playstation Portable, but remains far behind the Nintendo DS, in key European markets.
A higher percentage of Nintendo and Sony users spend money to play: 67 percent of Nintendo's, 66 percent of Sony's, 45 percent of iPod touch and iPhone users, and just 32 percent of iPad users. Over half of Nintendo DS and PSP users spend more than $10 a month compared to 38 percent for the iPhone and iPod touch. 72 percent of iPad users spend over $10 a month.
Recent growth in the sales figures of the iPod Touch could be an indication that people are increasingly seeing Apples portable devices as game platform," commented NewZoo Managing Director Peter Warman. "The youth seems to be moving from trying their parents device to buying an iPod Touch for themselves. Being able to start off playing free games is a key advantage of iOS and Android
devices and comparable to successful social gaming and MMO business models."
The iOS platform has been making huge strides in the U.S. gaming market. Apple CEO Steve Jobs proclaimed the iPod touch "the number one portable game player in the world," at the company's Sept 1 event. "The iPod touch outsells Nintendo and Sony portable game players combined."
In 2009, Apple took in 19 percent of the total portable game software revenue in the U.S., up from just 5 percent in 2008, according to Flurry Analytics. Jobs claimed earlier this month that the iPod touch alone has now captured over 50 percent of the portable game player market.
The Cupertino, Calif., company has focused its efforts on gaming. The new Game Center social gaming service in iOS 4.1 connects gamers through matchmaking, leaderboards, and achievements. In April, the company hired a new games editor for the App Store. Apple was rumored to be in talks with a Chinese game developer earlier in August. Late last year, Apple was looking to hire a AAA-caliber game developer.