3D: The Tipping Point For Mobile to Become Mass Market?
By Gonzague De Vallois, VP of Publishing, Gameloft
The talk of 3D continues to follow the mobile industry into 2007. In the past, we frequently heard about how 3D will influence mobile games in the coming years. And yet, the progress has been slow and perhaps, not as impactful as we had hoped or imagined. However, 3D has the potential to change the way we play games.
There are a few key factors that will tip this scale. First and foremost, 2D games have been maximized to their fullest potential. Over the past 4 years, our industry innovated, created and stretched 2D capabilities as far as they could go. As a result, there have been excellent games developed that have pushed each publisher to produce better games than the one before. At Gameloft, we originally developed 2D games with file sizes of 150k to 300k. Over the past few months, we have worked with the carriers to expand that size limit to 600k in order to add richer details and better gameplay. With the increased size, the overall product will be better and provide a deeper gaming experience.
As beneficial as the extra size is, 2D has truthfully reached its limit. Does that mean we will stop producing 2D games? Absolutely, not. The U.S. is still predominantly a 2D market. Most people still own a 2D phone, so we will continue to develop and support this format. However, as we continue to support the current consumer demands, we are also looking forward to the future; and the future clearly indicates that it will be 3D-centric.
With the acceleration of Java, advancements in BREW and Symbian, more and more you see engines that support 3D games. As handsets become more sophisticated, games will become more advanced. 3D allows us to have gameplays which are more creative, have better graphics and leads to a better gaming experience.
The notion of high-definition 3D is exciting. Today, mobile games are not the black and white screen graphics of Snake. In fact, 3D development actually began 2 years ago in Japan, Korea and with some U.S. carriers like Verizon with their VCAST network. As a result, games are now in full color 3D with incredible texture and increased realism. Today, mobile game graphics are at Playstation 1 level. On a good quality handset, 2D versus 3D is like comparing black and white television to high-definition color TV. The difference is obvious and the foundation is there to create even higher quality graphics.
The three parties who have the ability to bring the 3D market to the next level are the publisher, the carrier and the handset manufacturer. It is their responsibility to educate consumers about the advancements in mobile games and they really have the power of persuasion. At the moment, there is a definite lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of the consumer that is holding back the spread of mobile entertainment.
Innovation starts with the publisher. We determine the potential that each game can achieve. In this role, we are the ones who push forward the creativity and set forth the ideas that challenge the boundaries of game development. With that said, the handset manufacturer is the messenger. We rely on them to build and design their handsets to be user-friendly for mobile gaming. They determine how far we can immerse a player into a game technically. Last but certainly not least, the carrier serves as the gatekeeper. They enable us to provide our games to the public. They often filter out the good games from the bad and deliver a diverse selection to the end user. If any of these elements are not in sync, the cycle fails and our industry remains stagnant.
Innovation comes in many ways. Only every few years do you get a game that transcend the traditional gamer demographic and appeal to a mass market regardless of their video game experience. For the mobile industry, innovation will stem from new creative gameplays in 2D, similar to what we employed for Desperate Housewives. A 2D enriched game in 600k coupled with larger size 3D offerings will certainly broaden the target base for mobile. The new wave of games for 2007 has a great potential to change the way we play games.
De Vallois is Vice President of Publishing at Gameloft. He has worked in the telecom industry for over nine years, including time as marketing manager at French carrier Bouygues Telecom.
Do you work in the mobile games industry? Would you like to be featured in a Modojo Biz Op/Ed? Let us know.