Update: see below for an updated graph that supercedes this one.
How big is iOS as a gaming platform? I wondered to myself on an idle rainy afternoon. After all, we hear a lot about how the App Store has passed eleventy gajillion downloads, or how it makes people richer than astronauts, but I wanted some context around these numbers -- something to make the abstract mean something. I chose a subject close to my heart: games. And then I compiled the data that lead to the graph you see above.
iOS has nearly three times more games than the previous twenty-five years of gaming combined.
Now, I have to admit that there are some caveats to this data. The iOS count is just a scrape of the App Store's active titles in the "games" category; there is a lot of double counting in there from demo versions of games. The same thing applies on the other side of the balance for multi-platform games -- there must be at least half a dozen versions of Street Fighter 2 and Doom. I've ignored some smaller console platforms that were hard to obtain numbers for. I couldn't consider games played on computers as there is little reliable data for platforms that don't have the strong publisher control that characterizes game consoles; for example, World of Spectrum lists 9,544 games for the popular 8-bit home computer series. Clearly, including those would change the graph around completely.
That aside, I still think there is a message here, which is that the App Store is a huge force in gaming. Apple has tapped into a massive market that was previously going largely unfulfilled, and plenty of developers are making piles of cash out of it.
Of course, more software doesn't equal better software, and if it did, we'd all be using Windows instead of OS X. I don't think there are any iOS games in my personal top 50 games of all time list. That isn't to say that I don't play a lot of iOS games, or that I don't enjoy them; for me, they just tend to be pleasant diversions rather than the sort of experience that compels me to stay up until 3AM playing just one more turn. (There's an honorable exception for Civilization Revolution on the iPad, though.)