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Wednesday, 03 January 2007 02:40

Mobile games to boom in next four years

By
Who needs the console wars? Low-powered games for portable phones are proving increasingly lucrative, and by 2010 there will be more than 50 million mobile gaming customers in the US alone, new research suggests.


Fresh data from IDC suggests that the American mobile gaming market will grow by more than 16% each year until the end of the decade. The US is widely viewed as a slow adopter market for mobiles compared to Europe and Asia, so the overall prospects look bright for mobile game developers.

An added bonus is that building games for (relatively) low-powered mobile phones is a simpler prospect than trying to construct an Xbox or Wii title, though if your game actually interacts with the telephone network, things can admittedly get fiddly.

Currently, consumers favour paying a one-time fee for unlimited game use. According to IDC, three-quarters of online games sold fall into that category.

However, as telephone companies become increasingly hungry for new sources of revenue, subscription-based games, which involve ongoing fees, are likely to become more popular. Virtual world games, such as Second Life, are likely to be a popular target in this area, which will represent a third of all mobile gaming revenue by 2010, IDC estimates.

As a dedicated traveller, Transit is in favour of any development that gives us something else to do while we're sitting on an airport shuttle bus. However, we can't help thinking that there's a major potential source of competition here: inertia.

For many people, the handful of games already installed on their phone when they buy it will be enough -- though with that said, neither the Tetris clone or the golf game on our currently-in-testing Sony Ericsson kept us amused for more than five minutes.

As with most things technology-related, it may be all a question of timing. Spending on mobile games rises as age decreases, according to IDC, so old moaners like us are unlikely to be the target market by the time 2010 rolls around.


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