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Forecast: Handheld gaming devices near 30m in 2028

April 24, 2024

Research from Omdia reveals 19.3 million handheld gaming devices were sold globally in 2023. The Games Handhelds Database forecast, which spans the full breadth of dedicated handheld gaming hardware, estimates this will grow to 29.3 million units by 2028.

Handheld gaming experienced a resurgence led by the Nintendo Switch, following its displacement by mobile gaming in the early 2010s. Previously, handheld platforms were characterised by hardware that diverged significantly from consoles, necessitating separate libraries of exclusive software.

In abandoning this template and distilling everything that defines console gaming into a portable form factor, Switch set a new standard for everything that would follow. The Steam Deck released in 2022 successfully pulled off the same feat but with PC gaming, utilising Steam’s games library for software support. Steam Deck’s success opened the doors to a new product category: the PC gaming handheld. Hardware makers such as ASUS and Lenovo have since released their own devices.

Handhelds powered by streaming, such as PlayStation Portal, have followed. Like Steam Deck, the Portal also extends an existing platform (PS5), by offering the convenience of playing away from a stationary TV or monitor. Platform holders hope to utilise the flexibility offered by handhelds to increase engagement and spend within their ecosystems.

“Gone are the days when handheld consoles stood as a solitary segment within the gaming market”, commented James McWhirter, Senior Analyst at Omdia. “Handhelds today now coexist adjacent to PC, console, and mobile. With Valve leading with its own first-party Steam Deck device, the difficulty of building a new hardware business without controlling the software ecosystem must not be understated.”

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