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Wireless Gaming Mass Market Gaming over Internet- Enabled Mobile Devices Greg Costikyan Chief Design Officer, Unplugged Games costik@ungames.com http://www.costik.com “Mobile phones could account for as much as half of the game industry as a whole.”

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wireless gaming
Wireless Gaming

Mass Market Gaming over Internet- Enabled Mobile Devices

Greg Costikyan

Chief Design Officer, Unplugged Games




“Mobile phones could account for as much as half of the game industry as a whole.”

— Kagemasa Kozuki, founder and President of Konami, MCV

$6 billion market worldwide by 2005

— Datamonitor

technology today
Technology Today
  • Mobile PhonesEurope: SMS, WAPUS: HDML, SMS (sort of)Japan: iMode
  • Small Screen sizeB&W bitmaps (at best)
  • No application managementStatic browser model
  • Non-Standard “Standards”
technology today4
Technology Today
  • PDASPalmWinCE devicesPsion
  • “Pull” Data model
  • High Price
  • Few with Wireless Connections As Yet
  • Color Still Rare
technology tomorrow
Technology Tomorrow
  • J2ME HandsetsNo integration with WAP
  • Fuller WAP implementationWMLscript, WTA, etc.
  • Color, Larger Screens
  • Location-Based Services
technology tomorrow6
Technology Tomorrow
  • GameBoy AdvanceCable-Connectible to Cellphone (in Japan at least)Japanese don’t get online
  • Improved Wireless PDAsColorFaster ProcessorsBetter Wireless Data model
  • Special Purpose DevicesCybiko, Red Jade
technology a little later
Technology A Little Later
  • 3G2Mb data transfer ratesStreaming video (irrelevant to games)Color, Large ScreensFully packetized voice & data
  • Bluetooth
  • PDAS: Pervasive computingQuite likely voice integration (Visorphone)Desktop integration
technology a little later8
Technology a Little Later
  • Handheld Console Convergence PlatformGameBoy Advance doesn’t do the trickVoice chatSubstantial persistent data storageBluetooth for “LAN” playTCP/IP stackDownloadable appsPossibly PDA-based[Red Jade?]
  • UbiquityPlay Any Time
  • PortabilityPlay Anywhere
  • NetworkedMultiplayer Rules
  • Voice CommunicationCommunity
  • Latency of 1 sec+Desktop in µmecs; Internet 200-400 msecs3G does NOT solve the problem
  • No Simultaneous Voice & DataPacketized data could solve problem, but carriers haven’t been interested.
  • Signal Coverage & BandwidthMore of a problem in North AmericaMust handle drops gracefully
game styles
Game Styles
  • Skill & Action: Fuggedaboudit
  • Pacing:5 minute gamesTurn-BasedSlow UpdatePersistent World
  • StylesPrize-BasedSimple Social“Gamers’ Games”
  • Vital for Online Games
  • No integration of community features at present.
  • Features:Buddy ListsMicrocommunitiesVoice Call & SMS supportInvitations/BansFind-a-Friend (“Lovegetty”)
the case for the operators
The Case for the Operators
  • Games Drive Usage Like Nothing Else30-70 mins/visit (Lycos Gamesville, Uproar, Flipside)30-40 hrs/month (EverQuest, Gemstone)
  • Customer RetentionAnother ‘Switching Cost’Community Persistence
  • Gamers Lead Hardware CurveSpurring UpgradesMaking Wireless Data a Consumer Norm
  • People will PayThe only successful for-fee services on the Internet: Porn, Financial services, and Games
competitive landscape
Competitive Landscape
  • EuropeDigital Bridges/Wireless Games ($17m round) [Scotland]Riot-E (Nokia, Softbank) (Licensed-based) [Finland]In-Fusio (looking for 2nd round; BT, FT, Telefonica, T-Mobil) [France]Ludi WAP (Ff60m funding from Guillemot family) [France]PicoFun (soccer game; ties to Ericsson) [Sweden]SpringToys (Sonera et al.) [Finland]
  • Nokia Mobile Entertainment Service platform
competitive landscape15
Competitive Landscape
  • North Americapogo.com (Nokia major investor)iWireless (iEntertainment spin-off)Unplugged GamesSega preloaded games for Motorola handsets
  • JapanCapcom, Bandai, Sony developing for J2ME iMode handsets
business models
Business Models
  • iMode Model:customers pay by the 256 byte block9% of revenue off the top to DoCoMoRemainder split with service provider
  • Airtime Shareproblematic as packetized data spreads
  • Turn-Key Licensing
  • “Cable-Tier” Model
  • Pay-Per-Play
  • Advertising & Sponsorship
  • “Wireless carriers have solved the basic business problem Internet firms have never solved; extracting revenues from customers.” — The Economist
  • Yes, Virginia, you can do good games with a tiny little b&w screen.
  • Someone’s going to make a lot of money here.

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Questions & Queries to:

Greg Costikyan