If you believe critics, the PC as a gaming platform has already jumped off the beaten track several times. With each new generation of consoles, the Grim Reaper comes one step closer to the good old game computer. And yet the PC was able to prevail on the podium: Until now.


As a study by GfK on behalf of the Association of the German Games Industry (game) now reveals, the smartphone has replaced the PC as the most popular German gaming platform. Mobile devices have secretly transformed into almost full-fledged gaming platforms in recent years. Shooters, advanced games, RPGs, sports games, even MOBAs, for which mouse and keyboard control has long been considered the silver bullet, can be played on modern smartphones. Gambling is going on everywhere these days. On the train, at the bus stop, in the park. Pack gaming is a new way of playing together - thanks in part to successful mobile games such as Pokemon Go, Hearthstone, Mobile Legends and Fortnite. Well-known publishers have long identified the smartphone as a lucrative source of income and are launching major brands for mobile devices. 

Smartphones offer low entry barriers

You find out almost every day how popular smartphones are as play equipment. Anyone who carefully observes the people sitting next to them will quickly see that the Germans' favorite gaming platform is now the cell phone. Compared to the previous year, the number of smartphone gamers has increased significantly. A whopping five percent. According to a study by GfK, around 2017 million people played on their mobile phones in 18,2. In contrast, 17,3 million used the PC as a gaming platform. That is around 100.000 fewer gamers than in the previous year. The smartphone as a gaming device is booming - also because the entry barriers are significantly lower compared to the gaming PC. Felix Falk, Managing Director of the Association of the German Games Industry, confirms this: 

"Thanks to its widespread use and the low entry barriers, the smartphone also reaches many people who previously played little or not at all."

In fact, the intuitive operation of a smartphone makes it easy for new players in particular to immerse themselves in virtual worlds. Entertaining gaming experiences are only a finger tip away thanks to the working combination of direct control and comprehensive app store content. Instead of laborious installation processes, expensive hardware upgrades and a mouse and keyboard control on the PC, which is cumbersome for beginners, gamers can use their mobile phones to play their favorite games in a matter of minutes. Even user-friendly consoles cannot keep up with this due to the large number of patch downloads in some cases.

Ease of access is a critical factor for gamers today, and it can sometimes determine whether a game is played or not.

The pc dies. Again

In 2018, the PC is not quite as dead as some analysts like to claim. Although the number of users has apparently decreased, the gaming PC defends its second place by a long way to modern game consoles, which should have overtaken the “outdated game computer” with the appearance of every new generation of consoles. After all: Almost 16 million people in Germany gamble on consoles such as the Xbox One from Microsoft, the Playstation 4 from Sony or the Switch from Nintendo. That's an increase of 200.000 users in one year. The tablet ranks well behind in fourth place; the number of users has not changed compared to the previous year. 

Gambling is an unbroken trend. Around half of Germans play at least occasionally. The average age is in the mid-thirties. And the distribution between female and male gamers is surprisingly even (47:53).

Smartphones as a gaming platform are more popular than the PC
Smartphones attract new players with low entry barriers, intuitive controls and a diverse free-2-play segment.

The entire gaming market recorded a growth of 15 percent compared to the previous year and was able to break the 3 billion euro barrier for the first time. This is not least due to the gushing income from in-app purchases. In 481, German gamers invested 2017 million euros in virtual goods and additional content for their favorite apps. This corresponds to an increase of 23 percent. The trend towards microtransactions is continuing: since 2014, sales of game apps have more than doubled.

This is also due to the low hurdles when purchasing virtual goods. A few finger gestures and the account is debited with a small amount. Over the course of the game, in-app purchases add up to enormous sums for some players. The virtual shopping tours are therefore not completely undisputed among experts. Children and young people, in particular, are easily seduced into a multitude of micro-purchases. Cost control mostly nil. And the parents often do not find out anything about the shopping trips, or only do so late. 

By the way: Only a meager three percent of sales are now attributable to the purchase of the apps themselves. Also because publishers and developers now know how lucrative free-2-play games can be. Popular titles like Clash of Clans, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes or Fortnite ensure high income with buyable game currencies. Those who actually want to earn money with apps can hardly avoid in-app purchases.

The fact that game apps and smartphones are so popular is primarily for independent developers and small studios (keyword independent developer) a real blessing. With comparatively small budgets, game developers can bring their creative ideas to consumers. the game- Managing Director Felix Falk comments:

"The growing variety of game platforms with an audience of millions is also important for indie developers: With small budgets and great creativity, they inspire more and more people with their courageous and surprising game ideas." 

Overall, the development brings a breath of fresh air to the gaming sector. Several platforms exist side by side on an equal footing. Passionate gamers use no more than one platform. Multi-platform gaming, even within individual titles, is the trend: Fortnite on the mobile phone in the bus. Fortnite on the switch at the fast food restaurant with open WiFi. Fortnite at home on Xbox One. That may be rare, but definitely not an isolated case. Ultimately, thanks to the various game platforms, every player will find exactly the gaming offer that they like. 

Don't trust any study that you haven't faked yourself

It's always a thing with studies and their results. Of course, the institutes use recognized survey methods and rely on conclusive statistical evaluations. Nevertheless, the principle that first-semester students are already taught at university always applies: Do not trust any study that you have not falsified yourself.

Smartphones as a gaming platform are more popular than the PC
Smartphones as a gaming platform are more popular than the PC

The press release does not provide any information on the exact procedures that GfK used to prepare the study.

It should be noted that "Survey methods for collecting data from the German market for digital games that are unique in the world and in terms of quality" have been used. I also have "An ongoing survey of 25.000 consumers, representative of the entire German population, about their shopping and usage habits when it comes to digital games" acts as the basis for the study evaluation; a trade panel also contributed data.

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