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Why mobile gaming might be the next big market

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Naoki Aoyagi, chief executive of Gree International, believes that the mobile-gaming battle in the U.S. will be won in the next 18 months. That's why his company is investing strategically in its social mobile-gaming platform. Others have said Gree is investing too much marketing money per release, but it is investing to establish its presence over the long term.

Jens Begemann, chief executive of Berlin's Wooga, said that half of his company's 200 employees are working on mobile offerings while the rest are devoted to Facebook games. Peter Relan, chief executive of CrowdStar, has pretty much abandoned Facebook and is dedicating almost all of his company's resources to making mobile titles. Mark Pincus, chief executive of Zynga, says that he is investing in mobile, but the mobile-game market hasn't yet had its "triggering event" where Zynga can reach 10 million users in 90 days with a new-game launch. Which one of them is right about just how long it will take before the mobile-gaming battle is won?

Neil Young, chief executive of Ngmoco and a corporate officer for parent company DeNA, believes that mobile will become a huge gaming market. He bases that belief on the size of the Japanese mobile social-gaming market where Gree and DeNA have created platforms that generate $4.5 billion in revenues per year. That's about 10 times bigger than the U.S. mobile-game market.

Japan can be dismissed as an anomaly — the land of crazy TV game shows, full of people who will buy anything — but Young believes the similarities to Western gaming culture are plentiful. The U.S. mobile-game market at the end of 2010 was pretty similar to the Japanese game market at the end of 2006, when Gree and DeNA started to see things take off as people became more and more obsessed with mobile releases. As conveniences arose, such as one-click purchases on phones and the rise of mobile broadband, the "usage curves went crazy," Young said. In other words, the U.S. is about to become as crazy for mobile games as Japan.

Mark Pincus is lamenting that he can't buy users so he can ruin mobile gaming as much as he ruined social gaming?

Nice. Maybe mobile gaming has a chance after all.

I like working on video games because it feels like it truly is the intersection of art and science (see also: movies, music); his comment struck me as scientific and not artistic...Silicon Valley investors seem to reward this behavior, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. As James Paul Gee says, to reform x, first you must reform society...

The greatest challenge I see for mobile (read: tablet + smartphone) gaming is a quality user-interface/game UI. That being said, the seven-year-old in one of the families I spend time with loves borrowing my iPad to play games and prefers it over his Nintendo 3DS. I'm not sure what this means, but as his family doesn't own a TV-based game console and the only computer he's used so far begin with I and end with phone or pad...perhaps the lack of a quality game UI is only relevant to the console generation/millenials and not relevant to the next generation.

I think that's exactly right.

It's less about realism or sophistication that hard core gamers prefer.

It's more about fun.

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