Smartphones dominate handheld gaming market for the first time

Spending on gaming apps for smartphones surpassed that of games for handheld consoles for the first time last year, according to a new report.

Analytic firm App Annie revealed that a surge in purchases at Apple's iOS App Store and Google Play resulted in significant growth in game sales that outperformed sales for the Nintendo 3DS and the Playstation Vita.

"Smartphones' ease of use, low price point (due to subsidies), and multi-functional use as gaming and primary communications device have given them a ubiquity across a broad demographic that portable consoles will never have," said Marcos Sanchez, vice president of corporate communications at App Annie.

"Add apps that are fun and engaging, and that deeper penetration can equate to big dollars for game app developers.

The majority of sales came from the US, South Korea and Japan, though Brazil, Russia, India and China all experienced increased download and revenue growth.

App Annie's report came at the same time as Nintendo announced a temporary pay cut for top executives due to poor sales.

Nintendo has so far refused to offer app-versions of its popular console games, however the recent profit shortfall did lead Nintendo president Satoru Iwata to suggest that he is "thinking about a new business structure".

"Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It's not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone," Iwata said.

"If we think 20 years down the line, we may look back at the decision not to supply Nintendo games to smartphones and think that is the reason why the company is still here."