Downloadable Java games mainly bought by old men

Who like old games...

Posted by Staff
Downloadable Java games mainly bought by old men
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


Companies:
Games:

Comments

pmork 24 Dec 2005 15:47
1/3
Your article on old men playing games seems to be lacking in research and analysis.

As you mentioned in the article, I-play did in fact conduct a fair amount of in-depth research this year and our findings (a summary of which is available on our website and was also released in a press release earlier this year) were not at all similar to the conclusion of your article.

We inteviewed over 2500 respondents across 5 countries: the US, UK, Spain, Italy and Germany and found that mobile gamers are much younger that you seem to imply. As a matter of fact that core demographic of mobile gamers in Europe are what we call "tweens" (12-15 year olds) who make up the majority of mobile gamers. Of this demographic about 8% were downloading games on a regular basis (about twice the level of other age demographics). 80% of them had played mobile games (compared to a little over 50% on average).

We also found on average that 48% of women we surveyed and 44% of men had played mobile games on their phone (this includes embedded games like "snake"). The % of downloaders is much much smaller but still this figure also shows great potential and promise to get people downloading more games in the future.

With regards to mobile games being rubbish...again you're missing the point and this statement is about as subjective and one-sided as any I would expect from hard-core gamers.

Mobile games are not made for hard-core gamers. Our research has shown the majority of game play takes place while people are on the bus, train, taxi or looking to kill 5-10 minutes of time. They are not lookiing for an immersive 8 hour session of Halo2 via Xbox live. The two are completely distinct. Mobile gaming is destined for the mass market and our research has also shown that over 20% of mobile gamers have never even played on any other platform.

Although a segment of our customer base are gamers, we don't aim to really target them. Our goal is really to grow the market and appeal to anyone who has time to kill. The ELPSA chart should confirm this. If you bothered to take a good like you would see that there are only 3 console ports out of the top ten. The others are basically platform and casual games which don't traditionally appeal to traditional gamers.

Im sure our PR department can provide you with a summary of our research if you're interested. In the meantime we'd all appreciate it if you get your facts right before publishing articles are that are based on speculation and not fact.

Merry Christmas,

Patrick Mork
Marketing Director - Europe
I-play
DoctorDee 26 Dec 2005 09:15
2/3
pmork wrote:
Your article on old men playing games seems to be lacking in research and analysis.

We don't deny that, it's an opinion piece triggered by another month of mobile download charts that support its basic premise. It is clearly presented as such, we say that we only have anecodotal evidence, and we also acknowledge the existence your research, and make it clear that we will approach you for comment.

By ignoring those facts, and attacking us straight away, you have got us completelly on your side, and ready to be fully receptive to what you have to say. You must have learned that tactic at marketing college ;-)

As you mentioned in the article, I-play did in fact conduct a fair amount of in-depth research this year and our findings (a summary of which is available on our website and was also released in a press release earlier this year) were not at all similar to the conclusion of your article.

I hope that you'll acknowledge, however, that no research is foolproof. Respondents tend to say what will make them appear smarter, richer or cooler. A far better indication of current attitudes to mobile games is what people are ACTUALLY downloading, and ACTUALLY playing.

We inteviewed over 2500 respondents across 5 countries: the US, UK, Spain, Italy and Germany and found that mobile gamers are much younger that you seem to imply.

I think so too. The writer of this piece has reached the (somewhat logical) conclusion that because the games being downloaded and played are simplistic, old-fashioned and out-of-date, the people who are downloading them are of the agegroup that remembers these games fondly from their childhoods. I do not think that this is true. In my opinion and experience, there is a HUGE age gap in the acceptance of downloadable content, with older users spurning it almost completely.

Younger users are downloading "old fashioned" games for use on mobiles because these are the games which work best on these devices. These games were designed for low resolution screens, small memory footprints, and simple control methods.

As a matter of fact that core demographic of mobile gamers in Europe are what we call "tweens" (12-15 year olds)

So your research supports my gut feeling. Why do you call them "tweens" when they are adequately described as "teens"? It's this kind of merciless striving for trendy (and frequently inane) labels that makes many people share Bill Hicks' opinion of marketing and marketeers.

We also found on average that 48% of women we surveyed and 44% of men had played mobile games on their phone (this includes embedded games like "snake").

A FAR more interesting figure would be how many people had downloaded and paid for a mobile game. Including the people who had played the free game that comes with their phone seems disingenuous. The fact that fewer than 50% of people have played those free games seems a resounding indictment of mobile gaming in general.

The % of downloaders is much much smaller but still this figure also shows great potential and promise to get people downloading more games in the future.

Agreed, but before that happens, the games and the handsets need to improve too. At present, the mobile industry is trying to sell poor and inappropriate games to a largely disinterested public for them to run on devices that were not designed for the purpose.

I know that your perception of the situation is somewhat different. And I am sure that in time, mobile gaming will be much more successful than it is today. I realise that you are trying to assure your shareholders that this will be sooner rather than later, and this is the reason for your commmunication. But there are a whole load of hurdles that need to be overcome before then... I'd be much more interested in hearing your industry acknowledge these hurdles and present a plan for how it will overcome them, rather than seemingly ignoring them, and simply presenting data that "show" that everyone is eager to play downloadable games, when the sales figures and general level of user excitement do not support that position.

With regards to mobile games being rubbish...again you're missing the point and this statement is about as subjective and one-sided as any I would expect from hard-core gamers.

That is a convenient response: "You are harcore gamers, we're not after the hardcore market, so your opinion doesn't count..."

But what makes you think that we are hardcore gamers?

SPOnG employs a number of people who range from hardcore to casual gamers. These people have partners, siblings and children who range from medium-core to non gamers. In our circle, no-one plays mobile games. But our immediate circle extends to maybe 50 people - 10% of your survey sample per country - and statistically significant in context of your sample.

It's not that the games are rubbish to hardcore gamers. Simple games like Tetris, Pac-Man are excellent and well suited to the considerable limitations of playing a game using a device designed for holding a conversation on.

But once games attempt to become more complex, that is where they become "rubbish" as big ideas are shoehorned into small memory spaces, and sophisticated controls are shoehorned onto a numeric keypad.

Mobile games are not made for hard-core gamers.

Neither were the YetiSports games, or Spearchucker. But hardcore gamers played those games in their millions. Writing off hardcore gamers because their tastes are too demanding for mobile devices is a simplistic approach. Hardcore gamers have a keen eye for quality gameplay, whether it be in a sophisticated FPS or RPG, or in a simple two click Java game.

In the meantime we'd all appreciate it if you get your facts right before publishing articles are that are based on speculation and not fact.

Our differing opinions aside, it's this part of your otherwise interesting and reasonable post that sticks in my throat.

You would prefer that we do not publish opinions that do not support your corporate objectives? I know you are in marketing, and it is your job to get your message across, but in a (still nominally) free society, you are obliged to do this by effective and convincing communication - not by silencing people who's opinion differs from yours.

The article says that the mobile charts "suggests to SPOnG that its mainly older males who purchase downloadable Java games." We do not present it as fact. While I do not agree with the conclusions reached in the article in terms of mobile demographics, I think they are worthy of consideration and discussion. When we posited this opinion to analysts, they did not dismiss it as readily as you do.

While the description of the games as "rubbish" is harsh, and will certainly not agree with your corporate position, there is some considerable distance to cover in terms of games and handset design and especially in terms of charging models and accessibility before mobile gaming is a serious proposition. Again, we would love to hear your opinions on these matters.
Rod Todd 4 Jan 2006 11:18
3/3
I'm no old man. And I don't like mobile games.

Q.E.D.
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