IDC: Wireless Gaming Is A Serious Business

Individuals are carrying around mobile devices for more than just productivity and convenience – some consumers also play games on these devices. Wireless gaming is on track to become the singlelargest wireless data application category from a revenue perspective, overtaking ring tones in 2005 and rising to nearly $1.5 billion annually by 2008, according to a new report from IDC. Moreover,casual, community-oriented subscription game revenue will grow from a distinct minority of total revenues to market dominance by the end of 2008.

The key trend in wireless gaming today is the shift away from the single player, device-only gameplay toward virtual community-oriented gaming. While technically difficult from a network, content provider, and device perspective, there is a demand for head-to-head play among users. Supporting these users requires enhanced features such as player-to-player text communications, player profiles, game information, player matching features, and leader boards.

“A data point illustrating this trend is that InfoSpace Mobile and Blue Lava Wireless recently hosted what was billed as the largest domestic cross-carrier mobile phone gaming tournament ever held,” says Schelley Olhava, program manager, Consumer Markets: Gaming. “Tetris Tournament Mobile Championship competitors played more than a million games in September and October for a chance to win $10,000 in prizes. The grand champion reportedly played 2,300 games.”

In order for this market to take off, carriers, handset manufacturers, game developers, aggregators and other ecosystem constituents must work together more closely to maximize revenues and accelerate market penetration. Given the interdependence of the market participants, a company that refuses to collaborate is unlikely to succeed, much less flourish, in this environment. Broad cooperation between market players is essential, both for individual success and the success of the market as a whole. The key to increased mass-market uptake does not lie in any one company’s purview.

This IDC study, U.S. Wireless Gaming Forecast & Analysis, 2004 – 2008: Gaming … Together (IDC #32644) provides an analysis of the U.S. wireless games market, with an emphasis on the opportunities and challenges for wireless carriers, content providers, and handset manufacturers. Focused on Java- and BREW-based games, this study examines trends and key metrics including subscriber adoption/penetration, total downloads and subscriptions, revenues, and ecosystem evolution. The first section, Situation Overview, provides a current analysis of today’s wireless gaming market opportunities. The second major section, Future Outlook, provides a discussion of key challenges going forward, as well as a comprehensive forecast through 2008.

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