The Economist has an article that discusses the state of the video games industry. The two new things to look forward to are online gaming and mobile gaming. In both areas, the current leader, Sony, is likely to face challenges: “Just as Microsoft’s understanding of computer networking could give it the edge over Sony in online-console gaming, Nokia’s wireless expertise could prove a crucial advantage as mobile gaming evolves. If online and mobile gaming do take off, Microsoft and Nokia are well placed to ride the industry’s next wave.”
Adds the Economist on mobile gaming:
Gaming on mobile phones is also taking small but crucial steps forward. Today’s phones mostly have one or two simple games built in. The latest handsets have colour screens and can download software remotely. Their processing power matches that of the arcade-game machines of the 1980s, so classic games such as – Pacman – run well. Games take roughly a minute to download, but adding one to a handset is almost as easy as downloading a new ringing tone or screen logo.
Informa predicts that mobile-gaming revenues will reach $3.5 billion by 2006; other estimates are higher. What is striking, says Ben Wood, an analyst at Gartner, is that people seem reluctant to pay for other content on their mobile phones but are happy to pay for games. In Europe, downloading a game costs between euro2.50 ($2.50) and euro8. Mobile operators hope that, in future, multi-player games in which players compete over the airwaves will generate extra revenue.
Mobile gaming is a very different market from console gaming. Prices of individual games are much lower, but the popularity of mobile phones means volumes are potentially much higher. Indeed, mobile phones could ultimately become the world’s most widespread gaming devices. Next year Nokia, the world’s largest handset maker, will launch a handset specifically aimed at gamers. Called the N-Gage, it is a direct challenge to Nintendo’s handheld console, the Game Boy Advance.