Monday, June 26, 2006

Spot On: What's keeping the mobile revolution on hold?

But what's worked for Namco hasn't necessarily been good for other publishers, or the industry in general, according to Parks Associates analyst Michael Cai.

"I think focusing on chasing franchise and porting popular console titles might be the biggest mistake some companies are making," Cai said. "Due to the limitations of the mobile platform, many games are not yet suitable for mobile play."

One publisher that Cai thinks is handling the transition to mobile properly is Square Enix. And it's not the publisher's insistence on tying in its cash cow Final Fantasy franchise into the games that has him approving.

Before Crisis - Final Fantasy VII uses a phone's camera function to create magic in the game." They are trying to leverage the unique characteristics of the mobile phone," Cai said in reference to Before Crisis - Final Fantasy VII. "It does not support full interactivity and a persistent world, but it allows gamers to communicate with each other in order to fight monsters collaboratively. The phone camera is also incorporated into the game design, which allows gamers to create [materia, the game's form of magic]. You have to leverage the unique characteristics such as location-based services capability, built-in camera, always-on-and-always-connected, and short gaming sessions. I'm also a big believer in cross-platform gaming that involves mobile phones."

It's not just the publisher's approach to mobile-game development that has tempered the industry's growth, according to Cai. The myriad handsets on the market have different screen sizes, operating systems, and user interfaces, all of which need to be addressed if a publisher wants to get a game out to the widest number of potential consumers. Cai also expects that new business models will need to be introduced in the future, including free, ad-supported content, as well as micropayment and pay-for-play schemes.

From the article "Spot On: What's keeping the mobile revolution on hold?," by Brendan Sinclair.

Next: Consoles vying for center stage
Previous: Spot On: The (new) dawn of digital distribution

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