Mobile gaming a US$1.5bn industry by 2008


28 Jan 2005

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Mobile gaming is set to become a US$1.5bn industry by 2008 and has the potential to overtake ringtones this year, a new report from IDC claims. According to IDC, games on mobile devices will gradually mature from single player, device-only game play towards virtual community-oriented gaming.

According to IDC Wireless gaming is on track to become the single largest wireless data application category from a revenue perspective, overtaking ringtones in 2005 and rising to nearly US$1.5bn annually by 2008.

Moreover, casual community-oriented subscription game revenue will grow from a distinct minority of total revenues to market dominance by the end of 2008.

The key trend in wireless gaming today is the shift away from the single player, device-only game play toward virtual community-oriented gaming. While technically difficult from a network, content provider and device perspective, there is a demand for head-to-head play among users. Supporting these users requires enhanced features such as player-to-player text communications, player profiles, game information, player matching features and leader boards. According to IDC, many of these developments are already taking place in the US.

“A data point illustrating this trend is that InfoSpace Mobile and Blue Lava Wireless recently hosted what was billed as the largest domestic [US] cross-carrier mobile phone gaming tournament ever held,” says Schelley Olhava, program manager, consumer markets (gaming) at IDC.

“Tetris Tournament Mobile Championship competitors played more than a million games in September and October for a chance to win US$10,000 in prizes. The grand champion reportedly played 2,300 games.”

According to Olhava, in order for this market to take off, carriers, handset manufacturers, game developers, aggregators and other ecosystem constituents must work together more closely to maximise revenues and accelerate market penetration. Given the interdependence of the market participants, a company that refuses to collaborate is unlikely to succeed, much less flourish, in this environment.

Broad co-operation between market players, Olhava believes, is essential, both for individual success and the success of the market as a whole. The key to increased mass-market uptake does not lie in any one company’s purview.

By John Kennedy