ELSPA has just announced the November 2005 Mobile Games Java Download Chart, compiled from information supplied by the top five UK mobile phone service providers: 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, and Vodafone. The fact that Tetris, Tiger Woods Golf, Doom, Pacman and Block Breaker Deluxe make up the top five suggests to SPOnG that its mainly older males who purchase downloadable Java games.
We suggested that this was the case to mobile games expert Stuart Dredge at Mobile Games Analyst, who agreed that is was definitely part of the reason, and that: ?a lot of men of a certain age are downloading mobile games?
But Stuart also thought that this was also down to the fact that most mobile games were still sold through operator portals such as Vodafone Live and O2 Active, where you tend to only get a screenshot and a few lines of text describing a game. As he observed, ?given that you're shelling out up to £5, it's no surprise that a lot of people opt for established gaming brands, or recognisable gameplay.?
You could also argue that Tetris and Pac-Man, besides being globally known games, are perfect for mobile as the controls are simple, suited to clumsy mobile buttons, and gameplay is perfect for a quick 5-10 minute play on your commuter train back to deepest Surrey.
The fact remains that this is still largely an unknown market. SPOnG has found it difficult to find any meaningful info on who's actually playing mobile games, in terms of age and gender. Which is strange, considering the amount of market research info available commissioned by non-mobile video games companies. We hear that both I-play and Glu Mobile have both done some consumer research recently on who's playing mobile games ? so SPOnG will be sure to find out about what they found out and let you know as soon as.
There is also a US firm called M:Metrics that has done similar research over in the U.S. One interesting thing they found last year was that the operator portals are stuffed with action/adventure and sports games - just the sort of games that will appeal to male gamers of a certain age - yet apparently when they asked a cross-section of mobile users what they'd LIKE to play on their phones, the answers were the opposite - casual puzzle and card games.
So, as Stuart Dredge tells us, ?there is a theory that while currently a lot of mobile game downloads come from male console gamers, there's great potential to appeal to a wider group of consumers by offering a wider spread of mobile games.?
SPOnG is yet to be sold on downloadable Java games. We will continue to play Mario Kart DS until a mobile game delivers a better gameplay experience. If any major mobile service operator would like to interview us about why this is the case, then they can gladly contact us and we will happily show them why mobile games are currently rubbish in comparison with proper games.
Current top ten mobile games (source: ELSPA)
1 TETRIS ® - JAMDAT
2 EA SPORTS TM TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR ® GOLF 2005 - IPLAY
3 DOOM RPG - JAMDAT
4 PACMAN - NAMCO
5 BLOCK BREAKER DELUXE - GAMELOFT
6 3D POOL - IPLAY
7 MONOPOLY - IFONE
8 EA SPORTS TM FIFA FOOTBALL 2005 MIE - IPLAY
9 THE WEAKEST LINK - IPLAY
10 MIDNIGHT BOWLING - GAMELOFT