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iPhone, iPad Gaming Continues to Shatter Records, Clock High Scores

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iPhone, iPod touch and iPad gaming continues to torpedo global productivity, with more than 5 million games downloaded every day in March from Apple’s App Store, according to market research firms Distimo and Newzoo.

Even more frighteningly for employers, neglected spouses and the humble, aging TV, these findings only account for 63 million iOS users in seven countries, including the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Underscoring the shocking impact apps and mobile games are having on the cultural zeitgeist, research further shows that video games are the single largest download category on Apple’s App Stores. Between a half and two-thirds of all iPhone owners play these electronic amusements, and download an average of 2.5 games per month.

Strikingly, while 88% of the top 300 iOS game downloads are free, in-game purchases of virtual goods, new levels and additional bonuses now account for over 40% of all money spent on digital diversions. By the end of 2011, players are expected to spend more buying value-priced add-ons and extras than they are paying for games up-front in order to download the apps outright.

Findings illustrate not only how rapidly mobile gaming’s onset has come, but how much the pastime has changed player behavior in such a short span of time. Between the iPhone’s growing ubiquity and tablet PCs’ increasing influence, it’s easy to find a scapegoat for the Nintendo 3DS handheld’s recent sales underperformance and lukewarm interest in Sony’s NGP portable.

Whether there’s still a place for dedicated handheld video game consoles going forward in the age of Internet-connected multifunction devices remains increasingly suspect. Happily, you’ll know who to blame (read: Angry Birds) if five years hence the only way to play Grand Theft Auto on the go is downloading it at 4G speeds to your quad-core, 3D smartphone.

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