The Future of Mobile Games

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The Future of Mobile Games

  1. 1. The Future of Mobile Games Greg Costikyan [email_address] www.costik.com/weblog
  2. 2. The Present: Technology <ul><li>Interpreted Languages (J2ME, BREW, et al.) </li></ul><ul><li>Limited application size (<=128k) </li></ul><ul><li>Security model prevents access to other features on handset </li></ul><ul><li>Limited network access (HTTP) </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Present: Business <ul><li>~$1b worldwide (but 60% in Asia) </li></ul><ul><li>North America: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>90+% of sales through operators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Charge on phone bill </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>~70% of revenues to publishers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>~$200m revenues 2005 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Europe: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>70+% of sales through operators (rest through 3 rd party portals) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li><=50% of revenues to publishers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Charge through premium SMS </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Continuing rapid growth </li></ul>
  4. 4. Business (con’t) <ul><li>One-time download fee ($3-$7) </li></ul><ul><li>Additional cost for network use (unpredictable) </li></ul><ul><li><5% of handsets are ‘smart’ </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult to market direct to consumers (different deck navigation, short codes by country, no premium SMS in US) </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Present: Games <ul><li>Sales on the basis of 1 line of text </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers go for the familiar (licenses, retro games, mobile versions of PC/console) </li></ul><ul><li>Operator deck placement critical </li></ul><ul><li>Multiplayer not working </li></ul><ul><li>Ultimately: Even less innovative than PC/console games </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Present: Non-Standard Standards <ul><li>The single toughest aspect of mobile development </li></ul><ul><li>Need global deployment for reasonable revenues </li></ul><ul><li>Typically, hundreds of builds for a single title </li></ul>
  7. 7. Short Term Developments <ul><li>3D (EA sees it as “a console transition”) </li></ul><ul><li>Spead of support for other networking protocols (IP sockets, UDP [but most operators bar UDP traffic]) </li></ul><ul><li>Spread of 3G </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing application size </li></ul><ul><li>… But no immediate change to business model or core technology </li></ul>
  8. 8. “Where’s the Killer App” <ul><li>At conferences, both publishers and operators give lip service to the need for innovation… </li></ul><ul><li>But actions don’t match words, because branded games are what sell </li></ul><ul><li>Probably not going to happen without changes to consumer behavior, business model, and/or technology </li></ul>
  9. 9. Consumer behavior? <ul><li>Need to provide more information to consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Game reviews available on some operators (Verizon) </li></ul><ul><li>Few publications/websites review mobile games though </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer marketing hard </li></ul><ul><li>MDFs on the horizon (not necessarily positive) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Business Model? <ul><li>Push for 3 rd party portals </li></ul><ul><li>Particularly hard in North America (diverse network technologies; Qualcomm has lock on BREW) </li></ul><ul><li>Download-and-hot-synch too complicated for most users </li></ul><ul><li>Operators offering flat-fee data access (but little consumer uptake yet) </li></ul><ul><li>I don’t have any good ideas here </li></ul>
  11. 11. What makes mobile unique? <ul><li>Ubiquity </li></ul><ul><li>WAN access </li></ul><ul><li>Voice </li></ul><ul><li>You already have a buddy list (it’s called your phone book) </li></ul><ul><li>SMS, presence, etc… </li></ul><ul><li>Location </li></ul><ul><li>Pervasive gaming </li></ul>
  12. 12. But you can’t use any of this… <ul><li>Java/BREW security model doesn’t permit it </li></ul><ul><li>More flexibility on smartphones (but <5% of market) </li></ul><ul><li>VoIP (Pathway to Glory is a start) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But likely operator pushback </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Technologies that may help <ul><li>Camera? </li></ul><ul><li>PoC (but little deployment yet) </li></ul><ul><li>LBS (but real technical issues) </li></ul><ul><li>SIP or IP for small-scale multiplayer (but not for persistent server) </li></ul><ul><li>SNAP (but Nokia sponsorship may make some reluctant) </li></ul><ul><li>WiFi-to-WAN roaming (reduced data cost) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Further Down the Road <ul><li>Motion/other sensors </li></ul><ul><li>Streaming media </li></ul><ul><li>RFID (“the world is clickable”) </li></ul><ul><li>Superdistribution </li></ul><ul><li>Wearable image projection </li></ul><ul><li>Modular design? </li></ul><ul><li>Projected keyboard </li></ul>
  15. 15. What’s key? <ul><li>Social gaming </li></ul><ul><li>Location sensitivity </li></ul><ul><li>Pervasive feel </li></ul><ul><li>Persistence </li></ul><ul><li>Opt in/out </li></ul><ul><li>Cheap, predictable data charges </li></ul>
  16. 16. Challenges <ul><li>Widespread standards adoption (OMA) </li></ul><ul><li>Minimizing need to integrate operator by operator </li></ul><ul><li>Non-game uses for core technologies to spur consumer adoption </li></ul><ul><li>Alternative business models </li></ul>

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