Gaming takes over cellphones

2009-11-12 10:24
Cape Town - Gaming is no longer the pastime of nerds. It’s actually cool, and people want to interact with their friends to play games.

Social games in particular are a huge phenomenon, supercharged by the move from the internet to the cellphone and by the explosion of online communities.

This is the view of Alon Sobol, vice president of product development at mig33, a leading global mobile social network.

"If you think the success of social gaming on PC-based social networks like Facebook has been dramatic, you'd be only partially right. In fact, this is just the opening act to what we will see when people really start to play social games on their mobile," says Sobol.

"People today are discovering new ways to use their phones. More than just making calls and sending text messages, they are listening to music, playing games, watching movies and more."

In South Africa, it is estimated that more than 10-million people access the mobile web on their cellphones. They represent a ready audience for mobile social gaming.

'Supernova-style growth'

Social gaming - games where you play against your friends - is in the nascent stages of supernova-style growth because it resides at the intersection of two phenomena: the ubiquity of mobile devices worldwide, and the growth of online communities in which billions of people maintain and growth their social profile.

The ramifications are huge.

"These developments are bringing new segments of the population to gaming, far beyond the hard core Playstation and Xbox fans of old," says Sobol.

"Social gamers are more diverse in ages, genders and occupation. In fact, the number of women playing games is growing rapidly. This diversification will continue, spurred on as new titles are developed for this ever-expanding gaming audience."

Social games are asking new things of developers, too.

"Designing social games is very different," says Sobol.

Core emotions

"It's not about the graphics card, or screen resolution, but about the game play and social interaction, and about getting people up the learning curve and into the fun part of the game quickly. Some of mig33's most successful games have been the simplest, but those games bring out core emotions that drive all of us - such as love or competition.

"That is what drove more than a million people to play mig33’s new premium games within the first 60 days of their launch. Without having to install a new client, our millions of users can immediately play games in any of mig33's thousands of active chatrooms."

mig33 has introduced more than a dozen pay-to-play games including Werewolf, Vampires, Trivia and Dice. The company's unique platform means all its users can play the game on the mobile and on the web.

Sobol argues that the ubiquity of mobile devices and platforms has been crucial to the growth in social games.

Universal access

"The PC is a powerful gaming platform, but it requires people to have private access to their own PC and often broadband connections. However, in much of the world, the mobile is now the primary entry point to the internet and online, connected content.

"The mobile device is an even better gaming platform than the PC for many social games. It's always on, always on your person, contains your contact list and is always connected to the network. When people have spare moments - during their commute, a work break - they can escape into a game."

"The challenge has always been to enable a wide range of users to be able to play games - even on devices that are several years old, have smaller screens or less memory. This is the code that mig33 has cracked, in that mig33's offerings are supported by more 2 000 devices. That kind of universal access will be essential in bring social gaming to the masses."
- News24
Read more on:    mobile  |  gaming  |  social networks

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