Although the market is still small and fraught with technical hurdles, game makers see networked portable devices as a vital way to expand online game playing beyond the home. Interest has soared this year, sparked in part by the introduction of new, Wi-Fi-capable hand-held game machines from Sony Corp. and Nintendo Co. Both companies are talking up new networked titles for their devices this week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, videogame show in Los Angeles.
Japan’s cellphone gamers compare scores in soccer matches and mate each others’ thoroughbreds in racehorse games. Cellular carriers have teamed up with game makers including Tokyo-based G-mode Co. to offer head-to-head play for everything from Othello to a Japanese version of rock-paper-scissors.
Now, networked mobile gaming, while still small, is also picking up in the U.S. Carriers such as Sprint Corp. have sites where users can download multiplayer versions of single-player classics like cellphone poker. Sorrent, of San Mateo, Calif., offers the Daily Puzzle, where users can download a series of brainteasers and get statistics showing how their answers compared with those of other players.