OK so I am pretty hard on the mobile game software industry. It’s important to understand that this is mostly directed at the revenue projections that the industry advertises. I remember going to an EA analyst day last year where billions were projected for casual mobile, yet EA Casual has now been disbanded those employees sent off on new paths.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Casual mobile phone games will eventually be free. The browser will dominate the interface of future phones, and once Flash is on there, pack your bags boys and girls, most pay-for-casual-mobile-phone-gaming will be over. Casual gaming is already largely free for PC users through sites like Kongregate. There are just too many hobbiest programmers that make simple (and not so simple) games just for fun, bragging rights, and a little coin from the casual sites.
So where can game companies ring up some serious dough from the mobile crowd? One answer lies with their MMO and avatar based games. There is a market for $2-5 per month applications that let users show-off and customize their characters and avatars, Think WOW, Spore, Second Life, etc.
Another app quite a few people would pay for would be applications like location based educational trivia games. For example, if you visit San Francisco and get near the Golden Gate your phone vibrates and asks you a series of questions; offering historical information as well. The game could have multiple nag settings ranging from only major attractions to a much higher frequency of lesser known places and perhaps even a wiki based community question set. The pricing? $1 per month maybe $2.
As a matter of fact, Kevin Lynch showed off a similar application at the Adobe Max 2008 conference keynote through a new site California Museum (californiamuseum.org). It’s championed by none other than California’s first lady Maria Shriver as an educational tool. Of course, in this case it’s free. But similar personalized, GPS powered apps also have a play as products.
Ultimately of course the mobile games industry will not exist as we know it now, nor will the console game industry, nor will the PC game industry. Our devices will stream content where we wish and our content will stream to the devices we choose. Until then game developers will have to be very creative to make a lot of money from people gaming on their phones.