Handheld Gaming Vs. Console and Mobile Gaming: Facts to Know

Some of these numbers can genuinely shock you! 🤯


Understanding what is the best choice when it comes to handheld gaming vs console and mobile gaming isn’t easy. We are here to provide you with some of the most relevant facts before choosing. From global trends to the demography of different types of gaming to the most critical part, personal preference.

Unreal Handheld Gaming vs Console and Mobile Gaming Numbers

Here are the highlights of our research:

  • Handheld console spending is expected to drop 20% in 2023 compared to 2022.
  • 85% of mobile gamers report seeing video advertisements.
  • Nintendo is the most successful handheld console company, with over 550 million units sold.
  • 27% of Steam Deck owners are females.
  • Handheld consoles in 2023 have a resolution up to 2040p and run Windows 11.
  • Over 6 billion smartphones worldwide make mobile gaming the most accessible.

2023 trends in the gaming industry

Understanding in what direction the gaming industry is moving is always challenging since there are many possibilities.

1. Handheld spending will reach $3 billion in 2023 💰

Source: data.ai

The gaming industry is extensive and colorful, making it fruitful for companies producing games and gaming devices. This is why paying attention to current financial trends is essential to understanding where the money is going, what the gamers are playing, and how.

Here are the numbers:

  • Gamers are forecasted to spend $108 billion in 2023 on mobile games. (⬇ 2% decline compared to 2022)
  • Console spending is forecasted to reach $43 billion in 2023. (⬆ 3% rise compared to 2022)
  • Handheld spending is forecasted to reach $3 billion in 2023. (⬇ 20% decline compared to 2022)

2. 85% of mobile gamers report seeing video ads 💳

Source: data.ai

Video ads are dominant in the mobile gaming industry. Around 85% of mobile gamers report seeing this type of ad in their mobile games, while almost a third of US gamers stated they don’t like this type of ad. This brings us to another significant topic: monetization.

Companies producing mobile games earn by selling the game or through IAP (in-app purchases). This trend has been present for decades, while console gamers have to purchase the console and the game, eventually enjoying an ad-free experience.

Another aspect is how players earn rewards for their favorite titles. Regardless of the platform, most games support IAP to boost your coins, tokens, or whatever is the virtual currency or perk you get in exchange for real money. Mobile games also support video reward ads, although 6% of US gamers stated they don’t like them.

3. Nintendo sold more than 550 million handheld console units ⭐

Sources: statista.com

Nintendo is one of the companies that is offering both home and handheld consoles. If we spend time examining the numbers, it’s pretty safe to say that with more than 550 million units sold, Nintendo made an enormous success with handheld consoles.

👉 Fun fact: The first commercial gaming console was Magnavox Odyssey, released in 1972. The first commercial handheld console that appeared seven years later was Milton Bradley Microvision.

However, nothing is black and white here, considering that the company has produced consoles since the 1980s. So why did they go from iconic consoles like NES, N64, and Wii to handheld consoles like Game Boy, Nintendo Switch, and DS?

This one is hard to answer, but surely they knew what they were doing as they are the biggest handled console brand. The only real competitor, regarding the number of sales, is PlayStation. Look at the best-selling handheld consoles. You might get a better idea.

💡 It’s more than clear that PlayStation is busy competing with Xbox for home consoles, while Nintendo put a big focus on handheld consoles.

What do you get on handheld gaming vs console and mobile gaming?

Now that we know how things sit globally let’s zoom in and check the specifics of each type.

4. Honour of Kings on mobile and Pokémon on handheld consoles are the most-grossing games 💯

Source: data.ai

It’s fascinating that gamers have different preferences for handheld consoles and mobile devices. Besides the practical reasons, such as controls and screen size, which are fundamental between mobile and handheld consoles, we also can notice the difference in title preferences.

Here are the top 5 worldwide grossing handheld console vs. mobile games:

Mobile Gaming
Data for iOS and Android
Handheld gaming
Nintendo Switch Lite 
Honour of KingsPokémon Scarlet / Pokémon Violet
Candy Crush SagaMario Kart 8 Deluxe
ROBLOX Fire Emblem Engage
Coin MasterKirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe
Genshin ImpactMetroid Prime Remastered

5. Some handheld consoles in 2023 have 2040p resolution, others run Windows 11🎮

Source: data.ai

As a direct competitor to mobile devices, handheld console companies worked hard on what was lacking. The table below, you can notice how they have improved over the past few years.

DeviceOS & Display
Nintendo Switch Lite (2019)Proprietary
5.5 inch 720p (max 60Hz)
Valve Steam Deck (2022)Linux (SteamOS)
7 inch 800p (max 60Hz)
Logitech G Cloud (2022)Android (with custom launcher)
7 inch 1080p (max 60Hz)
Razer Edge (2023)Android
6.8 inch 2040p (max 144Hz)
ASUS Rog Aly (2023)Windows 11
7 inch 1080p (max 120Hz)

The evolution of bigger and better displays is evident. So is the computing power that comes behind it. During the past few years, handheld consoles went from various Linux distributions (SteamOS & Android) to Windows 11! This is a significant selling point for the latest console released by ASUS.

6. 55% of Nintendo Switch Lite gamers are female 👧

Source: data.ai & statista.com

A survey from 2022 reveals that 55% of Nintendo Switch Lite gamers are female. Compared to 27% of female owners of Steam Deck, we already have strongly formed preferences between genders and different brands of handheld consoles. It is very interesting for the industry, which is repeatedly emerging industry like hand-held gaming.

When we talk about mobile gaming, things are much different. 51% of regular mobile gamers are female, according to a survey from 2023. This again proves that handheld console vs. mobile gaming has many core differences when we speak about the player base.

Another factor to consider is that Steam Deck isn’t representative since it is estimated that only a few million gamers will own it by the end of 2023. On the other hand, number of smartphones globally is counted in billions.

7. Monopoly GO is ruling the mobile gaming industry in 2023 with over $232 million generated through IAP 📱

Source: data.ai

Combining necessity with pleasure is what most mobile gamers strive for. Instead of having a dedicated handheld console, they choose a mobile device suitable in size, price range, and computing power to handle it all. However, others like to interact with games through dedicated controls, which can’t be found on mobile devices.

🎩 Monopoly GO generated over $232 million in in-game purchases. The game itself is free-to-play, which probably accounted for an impressive launch. It kept the first position in daily downloads for 57 out of the first 60 days in Italy, the UK, and Spain!

Here are the fastest growing mobile game genres, by the increase in number of downloads:

GenreGame title
🏎 Driving (Simulation)Indian Bikes Driving 3D
⚽ Simulation Sports (Sports)FIFA Soccer
🏁 Arcade Racing (Racing)Hill Climb Racing
🤺 Team Battle (RPG)Honkai: Star Rail
💓 Idle RPG (RPG)Legend of Slime: Idle RPG

Differences sometimes fill gaps

It is difficult to answer what console or mobile is the best for your use case without knowing more details about your needs. This is precisely the point of different gaming devices – having a choice.

8. 24% of console owners report having more than five consoles in their house ✨

Source: SVG.com

Although many gamers like the portability of their handheld consoles, they are certainly not settling only with them. This is pretty much reasonable, considering that there are such limitations when gaming on a handheld console. Mainly, these are battery life, small screen, and limited computing power.

Here, we arrive at the core of the whole story: Many handheld console owners own multiple gaming devices! A survey carried out in 2021 concluded that the majority of gamers have 1 or 2 gaming devices. Remember that mobile devices count, too, so most of the votes probably go for 2.

What is surprising here is the number of gamers owning five or more consoles! According to this data, it accounts for 24% of respondents, which proves that hard-core gamers like to have options. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that handheld consoles usually go in pairs with mobile gaming or consoles.

9. Pros & cons of mobile gaming, home and handheld consoles ✅

The choice sometimes isn’t easy, so knowing what suits you the best is essential. To help you out, we made this table that can help you see everything objectively and decide on the handheld gaming vs. console and mobile gaming dilemma.

🎮Handheld consolesConsolesMobile gaming
Game varietyDepends on the model*831,000 +700,000 +
Must be charged
Unlimited screen size
Need for accessories
Popular games are often free
Multiplayer features
4K gamingDepends on the model**
Personal PreferenceYou often travel or don’t have time to enjoy your favorite games from the comfort of your home.You like to play games on the big screen and have the budget for additional accessories.You play your games anywhere but don’t want to depend on a dedicated device for gaming.

*Some consoles, like ROG Ally, come with Windows, making the game choice equal to the one on PC. However, most consoles are limited to the library of games ported for them.
**Some devices come with 4K resolution, but most mobile gamers don’t use such models.

10. Cloud-streamed gaming is expected to generate around $3.8 billion in 2023 ☁

Source: data.ai

Cloud-streamed gaming (CSG) is predicted to represent about 26% of mobile gaming hours. Since the wave of streamed gaming seems to be rising, it’s safe to say it will evolve as a separate category. Nowadays, gamers mostly use CSG on PCs, mobile devices, and TVs.

Across all these platforms, gamers are expected to spend around $3.8 billion in 2023! This means that the industry might double its revenue compared to 2022. Although far away from the sums paid we discussed earlier, CSG leaves a money trail to follow in the future.

(Bonus) Free time as a factor between handheld gaming vs console ⏳

Source: reddit.com

Although there is no universal formula to determine which type of gaming is the best for time-responsible gaming, we want to share some opinions from Reddit. One user shared that the handheld console compromises the quality of gaming he experienced in childhood and his busy lifestyle.

As always on Reddit, opinions are everything but the same. Another user shared that the screen size is directly related to the enjoyment level of gaming.


In conclusion, there is much to consider when choosing between handheld gaming vs console and mobile gaming. The main question one has to ask themselves is, what is the scenario in which I like to enjoy gaming time?

Handheld consoles followed the growth of home consoles throughout the decades, yet it’s important to remember that 2023 will likely mark a 20% drop in handheld consoles spending compared to 2022.

💬 Share with us what your preference is!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do handhelds count as consoles?
Yes. The only objective difference between handheld and conventional consoles is that they have integrated screens, controls, batteries, and speakers, making them highly portable.

Is mobile gaming better than console?
It depends on your preference and the game you are playing. Pros of mobile gaming include portability, making the game playable whenever you have access to your phone. On the other hand, console games come with better graphics and more advanced mechanics.

Is handheld gaming better?
It depends on your preference and the game you are playing…

Is mobile gaming more popular than console gaming?
Yes. Although there are more games available for consoles, the fact that there are more than 6 billion smartphones in use makes it incredibly convenient for anybody to experience mobile gaming.


  1. Gaming Spotlight 2023 Review – data.ai
  2. Handheld Bestsellers – statista.com
  3. Smartphone video game players in the United States as of March 2023 – statista.com
  4. Survey about the number of consoles in the home – SVG.com
  5. Wondering, please, does anyone else prefer handheld/portable gaming? – reddit.com
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