Your Next Game Machine Won’t Be a Tablet? Revenue Predictions Suggest Otherwise

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Epic Games

A screenshot from action/tactics game Infinity Blade II for iOS devices.

Worldwide revenue from tablet-based gaming will surge from $491 million in 2011 to $3.1 billion by 2014, according to analyst firm Juniper Research (via Gamasutra). What’s more, Juniper predicts that a full third of all mobile gaming revenue will be tablet-drive by 2016. That’s across all formats, including the top two platforms: Apple’s iPad and Google’s Android. If that prediction’s accurate, it suggests a meteoric rise in tablet-based gaming over the next two years.

Sure, the overall games industry — that is, including everything from mobile devices to handhelds, PCs, online downloads, consoles and social networking sites — is worth well over $60 billion worldwide, and it’ll probably continue to grow between now and 2014, leaving the tablet gaming percentage a low single-digit percent-of.

(MORE: 25 Best iPad Games for Your New ‘Resolutionary’ Tablet)

But as we know, tablet-based games cost on average a fraction of the $50-$70 premium traditional gamers pay for A-list console-based fare, so revenue comparisons can be misleading. Consider the disparity in platform sales. We know, for instance, that Apple has already sold three million of its new iPad, which launched just four days ago on March 16 (in any given month, no console comes anywhere close), and the install base for iOS devices was something like 250 million by the close of 2011 — at least 100 million more, platform-wise, than the bestselling console in history, Sony’s PlayStation 2. Those are numbers Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 would frankly kill for. And that’s just iOS.

I know, some of you probably can’t wait to drop down to the comments section and tell me how wrong I am. Tablets in lieu of consoles? Madness! “You can have my gamepad when you pry it from my cold dead…” and so on, and so forth. Hey, I’m a console gamer too, and you can bet I won’t so much as consider leaving those climes for a tablet-as-core-gaming-device until Apple and/or Google create console-like interface and display paradigms, e.g. wireless gamepads and wireless video streaming to a larger monitor or TV screen.

But with tablets more than doubling in power annually (and, for that matter, simply changing things up at least once a year while either maintaining price parity or becoming less expensive) I’d say the chance percentile continues to escalate that your core gaming device could shortly be a tablet as opposed to a set-top box, and I’ll wager (again) that if it happens, it’ll be sooner than later.

MORE: 7 Reasons Apple’s New iPad Could Replace Your Games Console