The two big innovations in the gaming business are expected to make them even more popular and mainstream: online gaming and wireless games.
Online games allow for large numbers of people to play each other connected through an online network (either a dedicated one, or via the Internet). Facilitating the move online will be the ability of the consoles to have broadband connections, and the shift from products to services (read subscriptions). Online Gaming is even being wired as the killer app for broadband.
Writes Olga Kharif in Business Week (December 13, 2001) on the world of online gaming:
It’s a secret world of sorcerers, dragons, elves, and giants. They spy on you from behind castle walls, hunt you down in the darkness of dungeons, and live to watch you die. More than 400,000 people pay $9.89 per month, plus software fees, to face the danger in the most popular, massively multiplayer game on the Web: EverQuest.
The game, in which players across the globe interact in the same adventure world, can definitely pull you in: More than 40% of EverQuest users play 20 to 40 hours a week, according to its maker, Sony Online Entertainment. Released on Dec. 3, the game’s newest installment, called Shadows of Luclin, sold more than 120,000 copies at $29.99 each in its first day in stores. It may be the most spectacular game success on the Web, the latest in a growing list of aspirants to that title.
Fans argue that online games will ultimately have more appeal than PC-based counterparts because they can incorporate a sense of community and an unpredictability that’s more akin to the real world.
Wireless games will come to us through the cellphones. The Snake game on the Nokia cellphones is a very primitive example of the world of tomorrow. Here too, the ability to connect into high-speed wireless networks and ubiquitous reachability can create a situation where, in the words of the creators of Majestic, “the game plays you”. Writes Ray Sharma of BMO Nesbitt Burns in a report on Wireless Gaming (October 16, 2001):
One of the more surprising developments in the wireless data industry to date is the growth of wireless gaming and entertainment. [Japan’s] NTT DoCoMo, the undisputed global leader of Mobile Internet subscribers, reports that almost one-fifth of its i-mode network usage is taken up by games and horoscopes, and that more than two-thirds is driven by ring tones, screens, entertainment, games and horoscopes all grouped together.
The acceptance of wireless games should not be underestimated. It is a common perception that consumers only play wireless games while they waiting for subways or waiting in lineups, but the ARC Group discovered that the heaviest usage occurs during evenings and weekends. This supports the argument that wireless gaming is an activity that consumers choose to spend their time doing and is not just an activity that people engage in when they have nothing better to do.
The significance of wireless gaming is already ensconced in Asia, but we believe there are strong signs that it will be dominant here in North America as well. In Canada, Bell Mobility discloses that 40% of its Mobile Internet traffic consists of games and entertainment (dominantly games).
Enough for today. I need to get back to my FreeCell.