Research firms IDC and App Annie have again joined forces to release their second quarterly report on mobile gaming, the key takeaway being that tablets and smartphones continue to dominate the handheld console space, making three times more revenue in Q1 2013.

Apple led the pack, overtaking the likes of Nintendo, Sony and others combined. Yet, despite Apple’s stellar growth, more games were downloaded from Google Play than the App Store, for the first time.

Smartphone revenue x3 greater than handhelds

The decline in revenue from dedicated handheld consoles comes down to seasonality. Christmas is peak period for the purchase of games and new hardware, thus revenue decreased significantly in Q1 2013.

That drop, coupled with the continued growth of Android, leads App Annie and IDC to predict that Google Play revenue will join the App Store in surpassing the handheld industry during the next quarter.

Indeed, the combined revenue from games in Google Play and the App Store was almost triple that of gaming handhelds, and that does not even include advertising. Were that added, the gulf between mobile and handhelds would be wider still.

appannie1 730x289 iOS and Android gaming revenue tripled that of handheld consoles in Q1 2013: App Annie

Android ahead on downloads, iOS ahead on revenue

The previous report put the App Store ahead of Google Play on both game downloads and game spending. However, Google Play moved fractionally ahead on downloads during Q1 2013, but the App Store remained top on spending. This shows that iOS users are more engaged and likely to spend than their Android-toting peers.

Games were the biggest sectors across both app stores, representing 40 percent of downloads, according to the report.

appannie2 730x287 iOS and Android gaming revenue tripled that of handheld consoles in Q1 2013: App Annie

APAC is largest and fastest growing market

Asia Pacific (APAC) led regional spending across all gaming platforms, as you would expect given both recent revenue disclosures from the likes of Japan’s Line (which made $58 million in revenue in Q1 2013) and Korea’s Kakao Talk (which made $42 million in revenue in 2012).

APAC was Apple’s top region — despite flat growth — while spending in the region grew 10.5 percent for Google Play games and 11.6 percent for handheld gaming devices.

appannie3 730x290 iOS and Android gaming revenue tripled that of handheld consoles in Q1 2013: App Annie

App Annie and IDC make particular mention of Google Play’s growth in Japan and Korea, via the aforementioned Line and Kakao Talk services. Nintendo dominated the handheld gaming market, with titles from its Nintendo 3DS platform occupying the top four spots, while a Nintendo DS game complete the top five.

King.com’s Candy Crush Saga was the only title to chart in both the App Store and Google Play’s top five for the quarter, coming in at third and fourth respectively.

cats 730x356 iOS and Android gaming revenue tripled that of handheld consoles in Q1 2013: App Annie

The report confirms that mobile platforms are eating up the portable console industry, as well know.

That’s down to the wide availability of content, competitive price points and larger base of owners. That doesn’t mean that Nintendo, Sony and others are doomed, but their time as the primary gaming systems is over since smartphones have opened mobile gaming to new audiences.

Apple and iOS again lead the way on smartphones, and the report reflects the trend that Android has (slightly, in this case) larger user numbers but average revenue per user and engagement levels are greatest on Apple’s platform.

Headline image via Ethan Miller/Getty Images