The human race has always been fond of games. From the stone ages people have been playing games. The form and content of game shave changed during the ages but one thing that has kept gaming alive is the fun and entertainment people derive from games. Games are an integral part of human life. The popularity of games like football, cricket and tennis among all the age groups is an indication of the importance of games in our everyday life.
Games can be classified in different forms. Indoor games, outdoor games, electronic games, video games, arcade games, mind games, puzzles are some of the classification which are used in relation to games. These demarcations are some time not clear cut. For example video games are a category by themselves as well as a part of electronic games. Also different age groups prefer different kinds of games. The one thing that has slowly risen from nowhere and started defining the gaming experience is electronic gaming. This category has become popular with people in every age group specially the high spending teenagers.
In the last 5 years a new term has entered the gaming world. That term is ‘mobile gaming’. It has slowly crept into nearly every mobile phone that is available today. From the grandfather game ‘Snake’, mobile gaming has come a long way within a short period of time. These days you get PC quality 2D games on mobile as well as a host of 3D titles. I have seen youngsters hooked on to their parent’s mobile phones just to play games. Even people in the 25-35 age group have taken to mobile gaming in a big way. In fact some time back I got a call from a very senior government official in his late fifties for some knowledge on downloading mobile games. Thus mobile gaming has made innumerable fans in just about any age group.
The rise in titles and handsets supporting mobile gaming is a testimony to the bright future of mobile gaming. Visit any mobile operators WAP site or any gaming portal and you will find hundreds of good quality games. People are amazed by capabilities of some of today’s handsets. Today’s handsets are capable of rivaling hand held gaming consoles. Special gaming phones like Nokia N-Gage have added to this trend. Most of today’s handsets support multiple gaming platforms. There is a fight among the different companies for providing the best gaming experience to the users of there devices.
The founders of the J2ME technology have also been very aggressive in providing support for mobile gaming on there platform. In fact with the introduction of MIDP 2.0 and JSR 184: Mobile 3D Graphics API the game environment has considerably improved. In my last book I had talked of building simple games. But this time we will be talking of mobile games from a bigger perspective.
Before venturing into the technicals of gaming I would like to bring to your notice some key facts:
· Nearly all the major device manufacturers support J2ME.
· There are more than 220 J2ME enabled devices.
· There are more than a billion mobile devices in the world.
· Some countries have reached a teledensity of more than 100%.
· Some of the big mobile gaming companies are earning revenues in millions of dollars.
· The number of people with access to mobile gaming is increasing very rapidly.
· In fact in a developing country like India people have hooked onto gaming portals like RWORLD in a big way. Some operators are even having hundreds of games on there portals.
Thus the future mobile gaming will be like television programming; the demand will rise, rise and rise!
The number one concern of any new mobile game developer is – ‘How will I market the game I have made?’ In this section we will look into the aspects of marketing mobile games. We will also look at the technicalities involved with each of the marketing mediums involved both in terms of software technology and the financials.
There are a number of avenues available to mobile game developer to market his or her game. They are as follows:
· Gaming portals
Gaming portals on the internet are an easy way of marketing ones mobile software applications. Most portals have no upfront charges for registration on them. They only charge a commission which may range from 25% to 35%. Some portals are also active in the B2B segment by offering a platform for the telecom operators and content providers to interact with each other. www.handango.com is a very popular portal for mobile games.
· Mobile game publishers
Mobile game publishers like ‘SKJ Technologies’ offer a convenient alternative to the independent game developers to market there games. These marketing companies generally have following type of arrangements:
§ Outright purchase of game rights
§ Marketing tie-up based on revenue sharing
§ Upfront marketing fee with some commission on actual sales
§ Revenue sharing with minimum guarantee for premium games
· Mobile Operators
World over these are more than 400 mobile operators. Every country has a large number of mobile phone operators. They offer the best sales potential. Web portals, although good for game delivery cannot match the number of downloads that an operator operated site can give you. In India for example Reliance Infocomm, Tata Indicom, Airtel and BSNL have good gaming portfolio. Vodafone, Verizon and Orange are some of the big international multi-country operators. Within China, China Telecom operates a huge network with a large number of active games. In Korea mobile gaming is very popular. SK Telecom is a large operator there.
· Game Retailers
Mobile retailers can also become a good way of marketing games in the long run. They are the point where expensive mobiles are purchased. In some countries games are available through retail in a variety of formats which may include electronic kiosks and CDs.
· Mobile Handset Manufacturers
These days in order to prove that there handsets are the best, mobile handset manufacturers have become aggressive in licensing content. Premium game publishers can approach them for licensing there games. In terms of revenue this channel gives consistent cash flows.
· Advertisements In GamesLike other forms of media, mobile gaming is also emerging as a hot destination for advertisements. Advertisements whether overt or covert have been popular in other forms of electronic games. They are slowly beginning to creep into the mobile gaming world as well.