Smart device games outsell portable console titles
Spending on video games for Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms has eclipsed that for Sony and Nintendo's handhelds, according to a study.
The data covers global sales between October and December 2012 and comes despite the fact that games for the PlayStation Vita and 3DS typically cost more than their smartphone equivalents.
In-game ad revenues were excluded.
Despite the findings, the researchers said they believed the Japanese firms would release further handhelds.
The Portable Gaming Report by IDC and App Annie is the first of its kind produced by the companies.
It helps build on NPD's influential monthly study of US games sales which does not include smartphone and tablet games.
One more Vita?
Looking at the final three months of the year should have favoured the handheld consoles since spending on their packaged games and downloads is typically much higher than normal in the weeks before Christmas.
Even so, the study suggests they were narrowly beaten by combined sales of iOS and Android game apps over 2012's final quarter.
A breakdown of the data also indicates that iOS games made three-and-a-half times more money than Android ones over the period.
But Android games were growing at a faster rate. And in South Korea - Samsung's home - video games from the Google Play store did outsell those from Apple's App Store.
"If you rewind the clock a year you will find the dedicated handhelds were clearly ahead, and this year they are more or less tied with an edge going to Android and iOS games," IDC's Lewis Ward told the BBC.
"If we fast forward to the end of 2013 we should see a decisive edge for smartphone and tablet gaming.
"I think a further version of the Vita could be the last dedicated handheld from Sony, but I suspect Nintendo will continue for a while. They are three to four times as large as Sony in this business and I think they have a much more defensible niche."
The research firms did not collect data for Windows, Symbian or Blackberry games.