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The serious business of mobile phone games

Money to be made from twiddling thumbs

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Mobile gaming sales will generate $7.2bn a year worldwide by 2011, growing from the $2.4bn sold in 2006.

According to Informa, which made this forecast, only five per cent of mobile phone users actually download games.

Getting the other 95 per cent of subscribers to buy games remains the challenge for operators - 3D graphics have not lived up to their lofty predictions, and flexible billing, easier downloading, and offering a smaller range of quality games, seem to be more important.

“The big sellers are still the big brands”, said Chris Coffman, senior research analyst at Informa, “but that is changing, with gameplay becoming more important as customers get burnt from poorly designed, but well branded, games.”

According to Coffman, the UK is particularly strong in using clever marketing, such as animated GIFS showing screen shots, and targeted MMS marketing. But many operators around the world are failing to follow through on their intention to offer a tighter range of higher-quality games, he says.

Informa predicts that Asia Pacific, which dominates mobile games sales, will account for nearly half the industry by 2011. It also says the USA is rapidly becoming the largest single-country market, thanks to its single language and small number of operators - factors which could constrain growth in Europe. ®

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