SMS is the new black

A review of mass market mobile apps

What’s happened to mobile gaming?

Posted by Admin on December 4, 2008

What I’m hoping is that after reading this a few people will get in touch to try and prove me wrong – but my theory is that mobile gaming is a sector that has massively failed to deliver its full potential. I also think that the mobile gaming industry is symbolic of the rest of the mobile world and arguably a lesson for everyone.

A few years ago mobile gaming seemed to be ready to explode and prove to be both an incredible revenue generator for everyone all along the value chain, as well as providing content that the public genuinely wanted … and then … well not a lot.

Mobile gaming is a classic example of something that my mum should do, as well as my younger brother, my cousins, my gran etc etc. What I mean is that there should be something for everyone and there should be a plethora of content for the mass market.

Mobile gaming will never rival console gaming (no matter how good the screen resolution gets on a mobile – it’s still a tiny screen after all), but it is perfect for people wanting to ‘snack’ on gaming while they’ve got ten minutes to kill. And everyone (including my mum) finds themselves with ten minutes to kill occasionally. So if your favourite game is Sudoku, Poker or a go-kart racing game, you should be able to get it onto your phone and play it in those moments.

A few years ago I helped to increase the profile of iFone as it grew and was eventually bought out by Glu – it was great fun, but also frustrating at times. iFone was successful with traditional, casual games such as Monopoly, Cluedo but most of all Tetris. What it found was that as mobile gaming started to take off the operators felt they knew best. More and more operators wanted to know about what new technology iFone was going to employ, or which console game brand they would bring to mobile.

Despite the fact that Tetris was regularly the most popular game in the charts, operators pushed for innovation for its own sake. Eventually this started to strangle the market and the general consumer turned away.

Obviously mobile gaming always struggled with the 3 Ps – pricing, placement and porting – but these could have been sorted. However, with the operators pushing for gimmicks that consumers didn’t want, games publishers never had the chance to sort out these issues. Nowadays, the mobile games sector just dribbles along talking to the converted and not really opening up the huge potential audience that it could and should have.

I personally think that this is a lesson to the rest of the industry and that other sectors of the industry need to be careful not to leave their audience behind as they push for innovation for its own sake too.

Obviously, you’re welcome to tell me that I’m wrong and I will publish some of the best rebuttals – email me at smsblack [at]


3 Responses to “What’s happened to mobile gaming?”

  1. […] post by SMS is the new black […]

  2. […] post by SMS is the new black […]

  3. […] be on every mobile game, as snacking on them is the whole point – but I’ve already had a rant about the mobile games industry). Namco has also added online high-score […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: