By the end of 2013, the number of paying players on mobile and tablet devices will surpass the number of paying players on dedicated gaming handhelds.
That's according to a forecast from the International Data Corporation, which predicts a steady rise in the number of paying mobile gamers over the next five years.
The number of handheld consoles shipped, meanwhile, will fall at an average of nearly 7 percent per year across the same period, according to the IDC's report.
However, the IDC expects handheld consoles such as the 3DS and Vita to lead in terms of average revenue per user through 2017.
"In order for Nintendo's and Sony's gaming-optimised handhelds to remain ahead of smartphones and tablets on key metrics such as ARPU, these companies and their game card developer and publisher partners will have to redouble their efforts in a number of respects," explained Lewis Ward, IDC research manager and author of its latest report.
"Digital distribution has reached an inflection point in mobile and portable gaming, and future success will largely boil down to finding a unique balance of freemium business model excellence and that ability to deliver compelling social experiences."
IDC's take comes after Juniper predicted that the number of games downloaded across mobile and tablet will triple by 2017, thanks to cloud-based games taking pride of place on portable devices.
The full report Worldwide Gaming-Optimized Handheld, Smartphone, and Tablet Gaming 20132017 Forecast is available from the IDC website.
PocketGamer.biz's news editor 2012-2013
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