Mobile game purchases will grow at a rate of 16pc a year reaching nearly 50 million customers by 2010, according to IDC, creating substantial revenue opportunities for network operators, service providers, handset manufacturers and other players.
The analyst firm said that by the close of 2006 the mobile gaming sector took on a new dimension, literally, as the industry explored 3D games and all the accompanying hardware and software requirements.
Improved handset technology, flexible billing mechanisms and 3G-based wireless broadband networks are helping to improve the mobile gaming experience and entice more gamers aboard.
Lewis Ward, research manager of IDC’s entertainment service, explained: “Game bundles, flat subscription fees that include access to multiple games, weekly game rentals, pay-per-play and other models today compliment the standard one-time purchasing model or single-game monthly subscription model.”
A recent IDC survey showed that 11pc of respondents purchased at least one game for their wireless device in the third quarter of 2006. Teens and adults under 24 years of age made up the core of this gaming constituency.
For the third quarter of 2006, IDC survey respondents reported spending an average of US$13 on wireless games, with reported spending inversely correlated with the purchaser’s age.
IDC predicts that the price per mobile game will rise by more than US$2.50 by 2010 due in part to the impact of growing subscription revenues.
According to the survey, more than three quarters of all games being purchased by respondents as of the third quarter were based on a one-time unlimited use model.
IDC says one-time purchased games is the largest category and will remain that way over the next four years. However, IDC models suggest that subscription-based channels will gain traction and represent a third of total revenue by the end of the decade.
By John Kennedy