Mobile Gaming Not to be Ignored, Experts Warn

Article date: Mon, 15 Aug 2011 16:54 GMT

UKFast Software Round Table - Stuart Howarth

Businesses are foolish to ignore the popularity of mobile gaming in a successful digital strategy, according to a panel of experts who gathered at a round table held by hosting specialist UKFast.

The growth of mobile and the popularity of casual gaming are dictating the online strategies of many of the country's biggest brands. Their impact on the industry is expected to increase further over the next few years.

Discussing sales of Nintendo's new game console, the 3DS, Stuart Howarth, co-founder and director of KOKO Digital said: "Poor sales of the 3DS have been put down to the popularity of smartphones and the changing attitudes amongst consumers to buy cheap games.

"They are buying phones to buy games cheaply and because they are getting used to being able to buy games for as cheap as £1.99 for Fifa for example, they aren't buying consoles because they would then have to spend £40 on a game. They want to buy games for 69p instead."

Speaking to a panel of software experts, Howarth said mobile gaming was "making waves in industries you wouldn't have expected it to affect" and warned big businesses of the implications of ignoring it.

He cited Sony's launch of the new Playstation phone as a good example of how to embrace current market trends. "Companies as large and powerful as Nintendo simple haven't embraced the mobile phone quite like Sony has. If they don't play catch up soon they might suffer the same demise as Sega."

While hard core gamers still value consoles, casual gamers are becoming a very valuable audience. The panel agreed that micro-purchasing, whereby users spend less on individual purchases but complete more transactions through impulse buying and add-ons, should be a focus for firms in the gaming industry.

Deri Jones, director of Scivisum, compared the direction of the mobile market to that of the PC. He said: "In the beginning we had Apple and we bought hardware and software then IBM came along and developed their standards. Anyone could buy an Intel chip and anyone could buy the Microsoft software and the Taiwanese manufacturers were all competing with each other to make better and better hardware. It's the same in games - why do I need hardware dedicated to games? It's the same with sat navs now too."

Carl Browns, sales and marketing director for Wirebox and Flairsoft said consolidation was the key to successful digital development.

"The iPad 2 can integrate with Apple TV now too so it's moving from just gaming on the iPad to gaming on TV, using the iPad as a controller. It's all about consolidation and companies delivering more and more in one place."

Howarth added: "People want to watch television on their phone, they want to listen to music on their phone and they want to make phone calls. It should almost ditch the word 'phone' because people do so much else on it."

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