Mobile Games Insider Recap
Modojo was there, so you didn't have to be. Although you still should have been. There was free drinks! The full recap...
Digital Media Wire, in conjunction with I-Play, Nokia, & Qualcomm held the first annual Mobile Games Insider event last week, the day before the videogame industry's own (supposed) insider event, E3. As Modojo covers both mobile and handheld games, we had the opportunity to attend both events in sunny Santa Monica.
The small, intimate mobile show provided a nice contrast to the loud, raucous E3. E3 might have been significantly downsized compared to years past, but it's still a far cry from the speaker-oriented MGI event.
MGI's single track mixed up the presentation formula, with a couple of lengthy panels, one-on-one interviews, and brief, 15-minute remarks from individuals with unique perspectives on the mobile game industry making up the day's events.
Casual vs. High-End Mobile Games
The most interesting and progressive panel discussion was the first of the two, which addressed the growing split between the high and low end mobile game markets. Representatives from M:Metrics, Glu, Wedbush Morgan, Vivendi Games Mobile, and Disney discussed the growing gap between the two mobile segments: the first bringing in the PC casual gamer and the second, a new emerging category that competes directly with handheld gaming, driven by the growing adoption of smart phones and other high end handsets.
VG Mobile's Oliver Miao specifically cited this growing high-end market as one reason his Centerscore studio decided to sell to Vivendi. "I don't think there's a lot of hope for the small [mobile game] developer," he said in response to a question. "The large players are doing a lot more to leverage their resources and relationships. One area where small developers can make a difference and compete is in innovation. Carriers are becoming more receptive to original games."
Glu Mobile CFO Rocky Pimentel mirrored Miao's opinion on the fate of the small developer when he divulged some of Glu's typical development costs. "Our break-even point on a title depends on the content of the game," he explained. "A casual, puzzle-type title costs about $150,000 to develop and port worldwide. For a high-end, 3D game, the cost is closer to $350,000-$400,000."
At 3X the development cost and with a much smaller installed base, the development of high-end, smartphone titles is likely to increasingly be a playground for only the largest, top-tier publishers.
One interesting wrinkle in this assumption is that content consumption among smartphone owners is much higher than that of typical cellphone owners, according to panel moderator Seamus McAteer.
"Smartphone owners are 3-5 times as likely to download a game," the M:Metrics Senior Analyst noted.
While the rest of the day's events were all entertaining and illuminating in their own right, the best bits usually came from individual quotes from some of the more outspoken participants. We at Modojo are all about distilling down "the best bits" of any event into bite-sized morsels, so we present you below with the most notable quotes from the rest of Mobile Games Insider 2007:
"We don't see mobile as the only place to take our company. We're in discussion to license some of our IP to the console space, among other opportunities." - Glu Mobile CFO Rocky Pimentel.
"Nothing less than an iPhone-sized screen and broadband-level latency will get hardcore gamers truly interested in mobile games." - Professional Gamer Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel
"The Nintendo DS is a fantastic device and will grow the market for casual handheld games, but at the end of the day, for some people it will be complimentary [to mobile games]. People don't want a utility belt to carry all their devices - they're willing to trade off some degree of high-end quality for convenience," - I-Play CEO David Gosen.
"Mobile games need to represent 'gaming without boundaries.' Discovery, community, and cross-platform play are the three challenges that need to be overcome." - Nokia Director of Technology & Strategy, Games, Multimedia Dr. Mark Ollila.