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Mobile Gaming: Get set and play, mobiles are not just for talking

24-October-2005
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Mobile Gaming: Get set and play, mobiles are not just for talking

Think you’ve had enough of games? Fed up of seeing people overworking their thumbs on their mobile handsets? Well, prepare yourself for some more for mobile gaming is growing and growing well with players like Indiagames and Mobile2win.

Interestingly, though the market is still at a nascent stage, the quality consciousness, which sets in as the market matures, is already high among consumers. Said Vishal Gondal, Founder and Director, Indiagames, “Today, the consumer base is small, but the redeeming feature is that the consumers are extremely quality conscious. Even the operators have started reducing the quantity of games and are instead focusing on the quality of games. Currently, we are clocking around 5-6 lakh downloads per month (excluding pay per play games).”

The approximate market size is believed to be to the tune of $12-15 million. Naturally, a larger focus is on the age group of 15-28 years, which is more likely to play games on their mobiles.

According to Gopala Krishnan, CEO, Mobile2win Ltd, Hong Kong, “The single biggest driver is the increase in the number of handsets capable of Java and Brew. Most new handsets that are being sold are rich handsets. As a result of this increase in market share as well as increase in the total base of users, we expect mobile game downloads to increase 300% or more over the next 12-18 months.”

He added that the low data charges in India and a high growth rate in wireless subscribers were the underlying growth drivers.

Trying to take the market to a broader spectrum, Indiagames is planning to build a community of gamers. Interestingly, it has also signed on Zaheer Khan for its cricket games and TV star Mandira Bedi also. Even Mobile2win has plans to have wireless consumer communities built around services on the mobile Internet.

Indiagames’ Gondal explained the possible reason behind early quality-consciousness of the consumers. He drew a distinction, “We are in the entertainment segment where the consumer knows what he wants and price wars will not do any good here, unlike in the telecom or mobile market where price is an important factor.” He added that games associated with recognised and popular characters like Spiderman or Garfield did better than others.

Attempts are being made to make games for the older age groups too. Says Mobile2win’s Krishnan, “We create games across all formats and genres, but primarily simple games for the casual gamer. Several of these titles are in the puzzle and semi-adult category – including products that appeal to older age groups – for example, crosswords in Java updated everyday.”

In a significant move, Indiagames has entered into a partnership with SingTel (Singapore Telecommunications Ltd) to launch Asia Pacific’s first and largest competition for mobile gamers – World Cyber Games (mobile).

SingTel is a part of the eight member Bridge Mobile Alliance that also includes Airtel (India). The WCG Mobile Championship will be hosted on SingTel’s GamesXtremeLeague (GXL) Mobile platform.

According to Gondal, the future would see strategy games becoming popular and catching up fast. Among the challenges, piracy is a definite issue as in other content related markets. Low awareness about what games could be played through cellphones was also cited as a problem by Gondal. According to Krishnan, low device capabilities, low penetration of Java and poor network quality were the few challenges before the players for multi-player games.

Online gaming seems to be the next big thing, but the penetration of PCs and broadband will have to support the concept. For the moment, it seems the mobile gaming market is playing well and the teenagers are hooked on to it very well.

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