Mobile gaming downloads will represent a billion-dollar industry (€880m) worldwide by the end of 2004, a report by the media research consultancy Screen Digest has forecast. In addition, the global market is predicted to be worth US$6.4bn (€5.25bn) by the end of the decade.
In the near term, most of this market is being driven by Japan and Korea, which between them accounted for close to 80pc of the total in 2003. According to Screen Digest’s analysis, operators in other territories must being experimenting with different pricing models in order to realise the potential of wireless gaming.
The report urges providers to make the proposition as simple as possible for the user, which would involve moving away from the current complex structure of tariffs that charge customers for each game download and then add further charges for data airtime. Instead, operators need to remove these kinds of hurdles and move towards flat-rate pricing models.
Screen Digest chief analyst, Ben Keen, said: “We believe that there are some major European players that are prepared to do so.” The report points out that such a model has always existed in Japan, which is the world’s most successful mobile gaming download market to date.
The Screen Digest report found that there are 49 different games services offered in Europe – barely two years after first being launched – compared to only nine major services in North America. However, American mobile users have a larger number of games made available to them than their European counterparts, with 203 games on average – more than twice the European offer. The analyst firm has forecast that the North American market will grow faster than that in Europe.
Game download rates per enabled handset are dramatically higher in Korea than in Europe or North America, Screen Digest noted. The average revenue per user for mobile games was four times higher in Japan and Korea than in western Europe and America last year.
By Gordon Smith