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The mobile games market, valued at €0.2bn in 2002, will grow massively to nearly € 3bn in 2008, forecasts consulting firm Analysys.

Mobile gaming will be key in driving growth in the mobile content and entertainment services, with nearly 80 per cent of gaming revenue (€2.4bn) derived from downloadable games, according to the report.

Rachael Beale, lead author of the "Mobile Content and Entertainment Forecasts and Analysis" report,
told ElectricNews.Net: "Java games have really taken off. The subsidy strategies of operators have worked very well. However, these games may not actually cut into Nintendo's dominance with Gameboy as we they are different sorts of markets, and Gameboy users are quite loyal,"

"O2 and Vodafone have been quite active in developing their on-line gaming portals. Other operators have been much slower but vendors such as Nokia and Motorola have also developed portals and Web sites for the optimsation of their devices," she said. "People are also using a lot more of the features on their phones, and UK operators, in particular Orange, are seeing a big uptake in phone training."

The growth in both on-line and downloadable games will be further encouraged by the increasing availability of SIP (session initiation protocol) and 3G networks. In the longer term, games developers should prepare for fast-moving multiplayer games, which will be enabled by 3G and SIP, according to the report.

Several operators, including O2 in the UK, Telefonica Moviles in Spain and Telecom Italia Mobile in Italy, have launched mobile video and TV services ahead of 3G roll out. This is an "encouraging sign for the strong predicted growth in mobile entertainment services", Analysys says.

Its report also deals with the emerging problem of mobile phone/SMS spam. This is becoming a cross-border issue, with the EU pushing for a more global approach to the problem. "Users are quite concerned about mobile promotions and want to feel that something is being done to combat [mobile] spam. The adoption of the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications, which requires companies to ask users to 'opt-in' to electronic marketing sent to any mobile or fixed terminal, was a good step forward," said Beale.

The widespread availability of MMS (multimedia messaging) and progress on agreeing interoperability standards through the Open Mobile Association (OMA) have all contributed to strong growth in mobile content and entertainment services over the past year, according to Analysys. However, there are still market difficulties to overcome. "The key challenges that need to be addressed by the mobile gaming industry are inter-operability, ease-of-use and digital rights management," said Beale.

© ENN

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