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'Casual games' to fuel mobile gaming market

Industry 'coming of age'

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Mobile games revenues are expected to grow from $3bn in 2006 to $10bn by 2009, according to new research.

The forecast comes in Juniper Research's latest study of the global mobile games market. Analysts from the firm claim that the rise in mobile gaming will be driven by continued growth in subscriber numbers, an increase in roll-out of 3G services, falling game prices, and a new generation of "made for mobile" games.

Juniper believes that coinciding with this will be a shift in demographics, which means that in addition to the traditional male gamers aged between 12 and 25 who have tended to be the primary purchasers of mobile games, older players and females will becoming increasingly influential.

Looking further into the future, the research firm predicts that continued growth of mobile subscribers in developing markets and a continuation of the demographic shift will propel the global mobile games market to annual revenues of $17.6bn, resulting in a cumulative revenue stream of nearly $57bn over the next six years.

The Asia Pacific region, which has dominated the mobile gaming market since its inception, will be responsible for 38 per cent of cumulative revenues between 2006 to 2011, while Europe and North America will account for 31 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

Juniper believes that market growth will be fuelled by increased purchases of so-called "casual" games rather than cutting-edge 3D and multi-player ones, and it says games that concentrate on the inherent strengths of the mobile platform, rather than those which simply seek to replicate console or PC games on a handset, will enjoy the greatest success.

"I think mobile games have come of age. They are no longer the poor relations of console and PC games. They are a different family of entertainment products with its own family characteristics. The casual games sector is going to be the market driver, even though it may not be at the leading edge of mobile games technology. Casual games make most use of the inherent advantages of the mobile platform. People want to fill 'dead time' with easy to use, but fun games. This is the same in just about every culture," said Bruce Gibson, research director at Juniper.

"A lot of market and media focus is currently on mobile music and TV. However, Juniper believes that over the next three to five years mobile games offer almost as much revenue earning potential for service providers as mobile music and mobile TV," Gibson added.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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