The Mobile Game Play Revolution: How Mobile Devices are Changing the Game Industry

Playing games has always been a favorite pastime for kids and adults alike, and online games are right up there with the best of America’s passions. With the advent of mobile gaming, we are no longer tied to the computer, but are free to roam and play at will. Simple pre-programmed games used to be the standard, but with more sophisticated devices on the market like Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and the Apple iPhone, the window of opportunity for online mobile gaming has been flung wide open.

Mobile gaming is big business for the game industry and big fun for mobile device users. The freedom to play games when and where we want makes mobile game downloads highly popular with consumers and the market reflects this as sales are expected to grow to 11.1 billion by 2010, up from 1.5 billion in 2007. As demand grows, so will mobile game titles and mobile device abilities.

Who plays games on their phone?

The ability to play games while riding in the car, standing in line, and between activities makes mobile games highly enticing to both teens and adults. Although stereotypes maintain that men have the greatest interest in digital entertainment, the convenience of playing online games via mobile devices may open up an even broader game playing audience.

Research has shown that more than half of the 117-million active game players in the US play online games and nearly 64% of these online game players are women. As online games already appeal strongly to women of all ages, it is likely that mobile game play will find a strong foothold with this demographic in addition to reaching adult men and teens of both genders. By enhancing games with social networking technologies, developers also have the ability to appeal to audiences who enjoy the more social and challenging aspects of online game play.

Mobile Game Design

So what qualities make a mobile game a hit? The most popular mobile games in the US are puzzle, strategy and trivia games because their simple design makes them easiest to play on hand-held devices. However, game creators are working to change that. As mobile devices become more sophisticated, the door will open for more advanced game play.

The push for open platforms, such as Google’s Android, and unlimited access to the real power of the Internet has created quite a stir in the mobile device and entertainment industry. Wireless providers must make the choice to create their own games or open their networks to a variety of mobile applications. With more than 13.5 million mobile subscribers downloading games, a shift to a different wireless provider because of game availability could be devastating.

The Future of the Mobile Gaming Market

With the introduction of the iPhone and other mobile devices with easy-to-use interfaces, game developers are getting even more creative in how they address current drawbacks such as pay-before-play, limited functionality, soundless system browsers and accuracy issues. More and more companies are getting around these issues by building games specifically for mobile devices.

How the games are delivered to the mobile user will change also. It used to be that wireless carriers dictated the size and sophistication of mobile games, but companies such as Apple will bypass this obstacle by offering games through an iTunes type of service and through over-the-air stores available from the iPhone home screen. This will allow developers to create bigger and better games that users may be able to control through touch, tilt, and shaking, instead of the current push-button approach.

With the mobile entertainment industry having the potential to reach millions of buyers, game developers are working on mixing mobile and social media applications by creating social game networks where people can play games against each other in tournaments and place on leader boards. Realizing the power of social play combined with the advancements in mobile technology platforms sets up an almost limitless potential of possibilities in the made-for-mobile service arena.

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