Published on January 31, 2008
Research Center NRC-TR-2007-011 Mobile Games 2010 Elina Koivisto Nokia Research Center Finland http://research.nokia.com 1.1.2007 Abstract: The Mobile Games 2010 report looks at how mobile gaming could be like in year 2010 from three points of view: games and players, technology, and business. The study was done by interviewing about 20 mobile game publishers, developers, operators, and inviting experts to write articles on the topic. The invited articles are attached in the end. The report reflects the opinions of the interviewees and authors of the articles - not Nokia’s game strategy or future product releases. Index Terms: Mobile Game 2010 NRC-TR-2007-011 Copyright © 2007 Nokia
Mobile Games 2010 Elina Koivisto
2 Layout and cover art: Jouka Mattila Nokia Research Center, Finland Special Acknowledgements: The IPerG (Integrated Project on Pervasive Gaming) project for funding part of this work Teemu Jalava Nokia Research Center, Finland Jyri Salomaa Nokia Research Center, China For initiating and structuring the project, co-authoring the initial sets of questions and invitations, rewiewing and selecting the articles.
3 Chapter 1: Please note that this report does not reflect Nokia roadmaps or future product releases. This report is a collection of opinions of the people Introduction who contributed in this study. The study looks at mobile gaming from three points of view: Users and games, Technologies, and Busi- ness. We focus on Europe, however, our contribu- tors come also from other regions. Differences in different markets can be rather large . The study The Mobile Games 2010 study (MG2010) was initi- concentrates more on the future than today. Excel- ated by Nokia Research Center (NRC) at the end of lent sources exist about the today’s situation, and year 2005 to get insight on how the mobile games some of them are freely available, such as the IGDA and gaming will be like within a few years time. We Mobile Games White Paper . One of the articles started the study by organizing an expert workshop in the article collection also gives a brief summary with 13 game experts in Nokia. With the data that of the History of the Mobile Games (starting with was gathered in the workshop, we created an inter- the first commercial Mobile Game, Nokia’s Snakes, view structure and interviewed 20 mobile game de- in year 1997) . velopers, publishers, operators and other researchers (see the list of contributors in the end). The inter- The report is divided in three parts: Section 2. Users views were done either in face-to-face situations and Games, Section 3. Technologies, and Section 4. (majority) or via phone, and email. The interviews Business. Conclusions are drawn in the end of the were semi-structured (1) . document and the referred materials are listed. The contributors for the report are listed in the begin- Additionally, we invited experts to contribute to the ning of the document. Most of the contributors were study by writing short articles related to the topic. interviewed for the report, some of them reviewed These articles are compiled in an appendix that ac- the report and came up with useful comments, and companies this report. The journal includes articles some did both. on mobile game security (Steven Davis) , tech- nology road mapping for future mobile games (Son- ja Kangas) , proximity gaming (Tom Söderlund) , virtual asset trade (Steven Davis) , cross- (1) The interviews involved a list of interview topics that were medial access (Vicky Wu) , architecture for con- followed in the each interview. However, the interviewees nected mobile gaming (Frank Fitzek) , and fu- were freely allowed to talk about the topics that they consid- ture of mobile games (John Paul Bichard) . ered important themselves.
4 Chapter 2: Partly this can be due to what kinds of games ex- ist for the platforms, but also it must be noted, that in the case of PC, you already have the device and Users and Games you just need to buy the game. The same applies to the mobile platform and this may be one of the rea- sons why mobile games can become popular among women(3). It is commonly said that mobile game players are mostly casual gamers who play the games for a In this section, we look at who will be the mobile few minutes when waiting for something or being game players and what kind of games are predicted bored. However, a study done by Sorrent and U30 to be popular in year 2010.  found that many core or hard core gamers (for a definition see e.g. ) play mobile games. The study was rather large-scale, more than 700 mo- Figure 1 An example of a mobile game that is bile game players participated the study. They also targeted to women. WatAGame’s GoSupermodel The users and how they play found that 80% of them had a gaming console at game home, more than 60% of them played mobile games There is quite a lot of research conducted on the at home, many of them played frequently (more than mobile game player demographics, but the results 60% played mobile games more than once per day), vary a lot depending on the group who participated and they played for long periods of time on average the studies. Typically, the studies show that a con- (15-20 minutes). In another study(4) , which was siderable partition of the mobile game players are commissioned by Nokia, the average play session female. One example is the free mobile game por- length was found to be 28 minutes. In our studies in tal GameJump’s study  among its users (50 000 Nokia Research Center, we have field tested com- players were involved in the study) where it was mercial mobile games, and found that particularly reported that in the US 59% of the players were the players of online games spend a lot of time play- ing one play session. The most enthusiastic mobile (2) Could be because the game site is not welknown outside male, and 41 female. The male/female ratio was the US more geared towards men among the international game players can even spend several hours playing (3) Also, according to the author’s own experiences and ob- players (79/21)(2). Juniper Research’s report es- a mobile game. The typical places that are reported servations, women who already have families are often quite timates that mobile games business will grow from in our studies for places where the games are played busy and cannot necessarily afford to spend several hours in $3 billion in 2006 to $10.5 billion in 2009 and that include home and work. It seems to be common to front of computers. There are always distractions in the real play mobile games in places like bed before going to life. The mobile gameplay that is not fixed in one location and growth will be driven by the casual and female play- often supports short playsessions may fit better in that kind of ers. One comment from our interviews was that in sleep, or playing on the couch while watching TV. lifestyle. the non-mobile gaming field, more women play PC (4) 1800 users participated in the study in six countries
5 Chapter 2 Users and Games In 2010, more people will play mobile games. As given by our interviewees about the players of real- mentioned earlier, and also noted a few times in our life games using mobile phone as a tool. interviews, women will be important for driving this growth. Recently, there have been signs that some companies particularly aim to target their mobile games to young women (see e.g. Gameloft’s com- ment about targeting women players ). One example is Danish game development company WatAGame’s goSupermodel (Figure 1), where the players battle it out in the catwalk. We can expect to see more mobile games that are targeted to women in the future. The number of hard-core gamers will also get bigger in the mobile platform when the quality of the games is getting better and the mobile phone as a game development platform will offer more possibilities for creating games that both look good and lots of “deep” content. One of our developer in- terviewees noted that the company is addressing the needs of hardcore gamers by providing games that have hard-core theme and content but casual game mechanics that are better in the mobile game play situations. One good example of this is the Doom  mobile game. In the year 2010, more people than today have been using a mobile phone for their entire life. In Fin- land, a typical age to get a mobile phone is when children go to school at the age of seven. These kids who have grown up with mobile phones will have Figure 2 Future players of mobile games. The mobile phone can be used as a tool in play. a different, more pervasive(5) relationship with the mobile phone. One example of this is using the mo- (5) The word ”pervasive” is used here in the sense that the mobile phone is an important part of every day activities. bile phone as a tool in everyday playing. A Finnish (6) The children used the mobile phone in a special Finn- tabloid recently reported children playing hide-and- ish variation of the hide-and-seek game for collaboration seek with using mobile phone as a tool in this game amongst the hidden players, informing the lost players, and (6) . There were also some spontaneous positive revealing someone’s location by calling his or her mobile
6 Chapter 2 Users and Games few emerging game styles that may or may not be The games that will be popular more popular in year 2010 or later. Currently, the most popular mobile games are quite “Snack games” casual and many of them are versions of game titles that are developed for PC. For instance, Tetris ap- Snack games are small simple games that are typi- pears frequently in the list of top ten most sold mo- cally played just for a while when the player is bored bile games . These “snack games” will definitely or waiting for something and then set aside. These not vanish from the market, but they are more likely games are typically small puzzle games or simple to have optional multi-player functionality. What arcade games(9). will change is that there will be more diversity. Most of the today’s mobile games can be described Like mentioned in the previous section, games that as snack games. Even if there will be a lot more di- offer deeper gameplay and good graphics will get versity in the future, there are no signs that snack more common. Some of the experts who we inter- gaming would vanish anywhere. This was confirmed Figure 3 Fitting a 3D object into an silhouette in viewed believed in similar games getting popular in in our interviews. Snack games will be there and Fathammer’s SiL game. the mobile platform are as popular now in the PC they may even drive the industry . The mobile platform. However, the majority of the experts be- phone fits very nicely for snack gaming since it is lieved that the successful mobile games would be always available and many players do not care about something different, specifically designed for the deeper gaming experiences (and do not even con- mobile platform(7). These games could utilize the sider themselves as “gamers”). Instead, they are sat- specific features of the mobile phone: 1. connectiv- isfied with more casual gaming experiences. Also, ity, 2 “always-with-you”, and 3. the context of the innovation can happen in mobile puzzle games as player. At the same time, the games need to be de- well. One good example of this is Fathammer’s SiL signed around the limitations in the mobile environ- game  where the player has to rotate 3D objects ment. The biggest limitations for the game design to fit into a silhouette. include today: small screen size and keypad, net- work latency and traffic pricing, file size limitations, and platform fragmentation (see Section 3)(8). The (7) One of our invited articles defines the first category as “port- use situations of the mobile games are also often able games” and the second as “mobile games”  (8) The battery life and processing power can be also problems, different than when playing a PC or console game, however, these issues do not usually need to be considered even if – as noted earlier – mobile games are often when designing the game. (9) However, it must be noted that a snack game like Tetris can played at home as well. be played by another player like a snack game and by some other player fanatically. In this paper, we refer to a common We have listed the following game styles that will be playing style
7 Chapter 2 Users and Games Cross-platform Cross-platform games and entertainment (or poly- morphic content) was a big theme in our interviews. One of our invited papers also concentrated in this issue . There are different kinds of cross-plat- form games. The “mildest” form of a cross-platform game is that the games in different platforms just share the same game license, but the gameplay in different platforms does not have any connection. We can already see these kinds of games utilizing popular game licenses, such as The Sims. These games can have similar stories or gameplay, or they can be complementary. One example of this could be a console game or a movie that is complemented with a mobile game where a small part of the whole story is revealed. For instance, the mobile game could explain something about the main character’s past that was never told in the movie. Figure 3 Fitting a 3D object into an silhouette in Fathammer’s SiL game. The next step in cross-platform is allowing the play- ers to use two or more platform to access the same If the gameplay of a cross-platform game title is could be used as “a remote control”, is an MMOR- game. The ways to play the game with the different asymmetrical in different platforms and the mobile PG (Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing platforms are symmetrical (similar) or asymmetri- phone is one of the platforms, most of the game- Game) where the players can use mobile phone for cal (different). There are already games that can be play can happen in the mobile platform, the other doing small tasks in the game. played in different platforms, such as an MMORPG platform(s), or equally in all the platforms. A typical “A Tale in the Desert” . However, having the mo- example of a game where the mobile phone would Nokia Research Center has conducted two quali- bile phone as part of the cross-platform functional- be the main platform could be a game where some tative studies together with SonyNetservices and ity is not common yet. Hinterwars is probably the content for the mobile game is created in other plat- Gotland University on what kinds of cross-plat- first commercial cross-platform MMOG (Massively form, for instance, in a web page. Mobile games can form access methods could be popular among the Multi-Player Game)  including the mobile com- also benefit from allowing the players to use the most current MMORPG players . In these stud- ponent. In Hinterwars, the gameplay in the PC and feasible available platform for communicating with ies, 28 players participated in in-depth interviews. mobile platform are symmetrical (see Figure 4). each other, e.g. for writing messages in a game fo- It was found that the MMORPG players were very rum. A good example of a game where the PC game interested in using mobile features that allow them could be the main game, and the mobile phone to connect to the communication
8 Chapter 2 Users and Games channels of their favorite PC-based MMORPG. Mixed-reality games  often use several platforms interesting, share files, and more. Also, using small features that would not affect too to create the playing experience. Various platforms much the gameplay in the main platform and would can be used for informing about the game, entering One enabler for the location-based games to become not require too fast interaction were popular, such the game, playing the game, or observing the game. more popular is the increasing amount of location- as trading items or crafting. Features that involved These games often allow various levels of participa- technology that is available for the consumers with getting notifications from the MMORPG received a tion from active players to observers or even non- relatively low price. For instance in Finland the pric- mixed feedback. They were considered useful, how- players (who do not necessarily even know that they es of GPS modules (such as Navicore) have come ever, sometimes players were worried about “being are part of the game). These kinds of games have this down rapidly within the last two years. The compa- borderline gaming all the time” and getting too in- far been mostly successful as promotional games. A nies who are providing just maps today will start to volved in and addicted to playing. We also studied good example of that kind of game is Nokia Game consider what other kinds of applications they could using the mobile phone to play an MMORPG in a that has ran from year 1999 as a promotional game provide for the consumers. One sign of this is Navi- location-based mode. According to our study, these event for Nokia . core’s map application that gives the driver of the kinds of games would not be popular – unless they car instructions. In addition, the driver can choose would be specifically designed to be location-based Location-based games (LBGs) which voice he wants to use from several options in the beginning. It is unlikely for the location-based (among which are some celebrities). MMORPG mobile game extensions will be popular Location-based games have not been a major com- in year 2010. What is very likely is that some more mercial success this far. A few commercial location- However, there are still many problems with the loca- subtle features, like accessing the communication based games have been launched, such as Botfight- tion technologies. For instance, GPS is very suitable channels or trading with mobile, will be commonly ers  and Mogi Mogi . Geocaching , which for using in a car since being outdoors all the time used with some MMORPGs. is a real-world GPS assisted treasure hunt game, is makes seeing the satellite easier. However, gaming also an example of a location-based playful appli- and traffic can be a tricky combination and using a The first PC or console games that will use mobile cation that has gained some popularity and rather GPS device constantly when walking around in a phone to support the game will simply connect to much publicity. However, the location-based genre city can be cumbersome (especially in rough weath- the communication channels of the game. We have is a niche. In our interviews, the response for ques- er conditions, such as heavy rain). Some problems seen already a few examples of this, for instance, tions related with the near-future success of loca- with using GPS for location information have been Habbo Hotel , a virtual world created by Su- tion-based games ranged from skepticism to slight reported as well, for instance in the vicinity of very lake, has included a mobile chat client that was used optimism. It was also noted that maybe the location- high buildings . Other technologies for location for sending messages in the game. Later Sulake re- based games have been too often very goal oriented tracking exist, but utilizing them is not necessarily moved this feature from the game since it was not games and that the popular location-based applica- that easy either. The mobile operators offer tracking used much. The reason for this was probably that the tions could be more playful. One example of a loca- services which are not as accurate as GPS. Using a typical players did not yet have advanced-enough tion-based (proximity based) application is Nokia’s location service by operator may be expensive and phones to use the feature and the pricing for data Sensor application . The users of the Sensor ap- require going through a lot of bureaucracy . One traffic was very high in the mobile networks. The plication can browse other users of the same applica- option is to use the CELL-ID for obtaining a rough time was too early for the feature and now both of tion who are in the vicinity (i.e. within the Bluetooth knowledge of the whereabouts of the player. How- these issues are changing. range), and see if they can find someone ever, this information is sometimes seen to be
9 Chapter 2 Users and Games owned by the mobile operator which may cause and user-created content (see Figure 5). Mixing the virtual and real – pervasive gaming problems in commercial applications. Proximity gaming can be a more suitable way for locating According to the definition that is used in the Inte- players of the same game at the moment, since the grated Project on Pervasive Gaming (IPerG )  technology for doing this is already widely avail- pervasive games are “game experiences that are in- able. Some commercial applications already exist terwoven with our everyday lives”. This means that (such as Nokia Sensor that was mentioned earlier). pervasive games mix with our everyday activities. Those who are interested in proximity gaming can In the extreme cases this could mean games that are read more about it in Tom Söderlund’s article in the more like a life style than just a game. Pervasive article appendix of this report . gaming can - but does not necessarily need to mean – location-based gaming. Location-based games are When talking about LBGs, concentrating on accura- a subset of pervasive games. cy can be a red herring. Accuracy may not be impor- tant, and sometimes using exact location informa- One good example of mixing virtual and real is a tion in a game can be even threatening for players game event organized by Nokia Research Center who do not want to let the other players to know and a collaborative project Sensor Planet  is about their whereabouts. There is always potential Manhattan Story-Mash Up event (Figure 6) in the for stalking if a very accurate location technology Urban Games festival in New York. In this game is used. Sometimes it might be interesting for the event, the players were taking pictures of real-life player just to know that the other player is in the objects in the street and other players were guessing same neighborhood. Some mobile games may be lo- what these objects represent. The second mode of cation-based even without the players realizing that play was web-based, where the players wrote stories they are playing a location-based game. The players around the content. Earlier examples of these kinds may just play a game in a certain location. One ex- of games exist, too, such as, Can You See Me Now, ample of this could be a mobile-assisted bar quiz. Uncle Roy All Around You, Pac Manhattan, Human Pacman etc. These kinds of games can be particu- One big problem with commercializing location- larly successful as promotional game events, for in- based games is the amount of resources that is needed Figure 5 An example of a research prototype stance, Nokia has used a mixed-reality game “Nokia for customizing the games or applications to differ- called Constellations where content is automati- game” already for years for promoting its phones. ent locations. A few solutions exist and the solutions cally generated to fit new locations. More in www. may also show direction to where the location-based mupe.net games or playful applications will go in the near fu- ture. The location can be relative, the location may The Location-based games will probably still stay be not mapped directly to the real world, and the as a niche in year 2010. However, we will see more game may utilize existing maps and services location-based games than today.
10 Chapter 2 Users and Games There are a few reasons for connected gaming not The game received particularly good reviews and being more popular today. In the earlier days, there good publicity (see e.g. ). were big usability problems with connected gaming. Most of the users had no idea how to even set up network settings. Nowadays this is not a big prob- lem anymore as many mobile phones come with pre-set network settings or the operators send the settings automatically when the user inserts a new SIM card in his or her phone. However, there are still many problems. One of the biggest one is the pricing of data traffic in mobile networks, as also occasionally cited in our interviews. Most of the op- Figure 6 Manhattan Story Mash-Up event in New erators charge the data transfer by kilobytes, which York. The pictures taken in the game were posted Figure 7 A good example of a contemporary mul- makes it very difficult for a normal user to estimate in a wide-screen in Manhattan. ti-player online mobile game that has received how much money is spent when playing. This will change in the future when operators offer more good reviews: Pathway to Glory. multi-player friendly pricing models (see section 4). Our interviews gave some indication that the bor- In the case of server-based online games, it can be ders between the digital entertainment and gaming, also rather expensive to set up and maintain serv- Community and also virtual and real may blur more in the near ers. Latency in the mobile networks is a problem in future. An example of this already happening is the the games that require fast player-to-player interac- The community is often seen as a very important part alternate reality game connected with the Lost TV tion . 3G networks help this a bit, but there will of the game, particularly in the case of multi-player series. still be latency and disconnections from the network games. Human as a species has a strong need for so- (particularly if the players are moving, e.g. sitting cializing and communities have existed probably as Connected games (or online games) on a train). Even if the network technologies would long as the human kind. In Massively Multi-Player not advance fast enough to offer a smooth real-time Online Game (MMOG) industry, there is a saying Connected (online) mobile games have been com- multi-player gaming experience in the mobile net- “they come for the game but stay for the commu- ing to the market already for several years. Howev- works, there are many ways to design multi-player nity” which is very much true. Plenty of literature er, most of the mobile games are still offline games, games that are latency resistant . exists describing the benefits of a game having an even if some of the mobile games use short-range active player community (see e.g. ). communication technologies, such as Bluetooth or A good example of a successful connected mobile infrared to facilitate locally multi-player games. In game is Pathway to Glory (Figure 7), which is a Nokia study , 45% of the mobile game players strategy game where the players guide their troops reported that they play multi-player mobile games at to solve missions in Second World War. least once per month.
11 Chapter 2 Users and Games In mobile games, community aspects are impor- Joining the game happens by invitation of another tant as well. Our interviews revealed three different player of the game. kinds of opinions: Another example of a commercial community-fo- 1. The communities will be a central part of cused approach in today’s mobile gaming already is mobile games. The mobile phone is a social device the N-Gage gaming platform , which has an ac- used for communicating. tive player community around it. As the publisher’s role becomes stronger in mobile games industry, it 2. The communities will be important but it is is likely that communities form around certain popu- not clear where the mobile game communities will lar publisher’s game titles. Also, as connected gam- reside. One very potential candidate is the Internet ing and even massively multi-player online gaming (e.g. a mobile game that is accompanied with a web (MMOG) becomes more common in the mobile page(10) ). Some interviewees also suggested that lo- platform, it is very likely that the role of commu- cal communities may become important for mobile nities grows as well since it has been very central applications. in the PC or console-based MMOGs and connected games. Figure 8 Sea O’Fortune is a good example of a 3. Communities may not be an important part mobile-based MMOG game world of mobile games in 2010. The mobile phone has its limitations (e.g. the keypad, screen size, and the ma- turity of connected gaming) and the success of on- The skeptical responses were based on the limita- line mobile games has been still moderate. tions of the mobile phone and networks. It was also The opinions that reflected mobile game communi- mentioned that the more casual and older players not ties already being important part of mobile gaming being necessarily interested in using a lot of time in already in year 2010 were more common. A few order to get involved in game communities. Howev- skeptical responses existed. er, often different roles are possible in communities ranging from active participants to observers. One good example of a community-focused mo- bile commercial game is Digital Chocolate’s MLSN sports league , which is an entirely community- based game where the players manage their sports leagues to compete with others. In the academic do- main, a good example of a game that is based on the player community is COUP . In this game, the (10)However, some of the mobile phone are already more like players compete with each other to climb up in a multi-media computer and web pages can be browsed equally both with mobile phones and desktop computers. social hierarchy.
12 Chapter 2 Users and Games Prosumerism Serious games typically need to make the educa- when participating events. This is already possible tional purpose very visible for either the founder of because the mobile users can browse Internet gam- In other media than only the games a common trend the game or the player. The serious games have been bling sites with their mobile devices. Many of the seems to be the more active role of the consumer. often criticized for not being fun. However, it could first mobile gambling games will resemble the ones We call this prosumerism, which means that the user be the definition of a serious game that makes it so that are played today in the Internet or at Kiosks. takes a role of a content creator or a hobbyist pro- (it needs to be something serious, If it is fun, it is not However, some mobile gambling concepts will uti- ducer in a service or application. This trend certainly serious!). The more fun games that can have edu- lize the “live” aspect. Sometimes the mobile gam- also affects the mobile gaming. However, the mobile cational or health benefits are often seen as games bling games can be part of a bigger concept where phone offers quite limited screen real-estate and in- that are played just for fun (e.g. dancing or singing the game is played on different platforms. put methods for creating content. Some of the con- games). tent-creation or publishing tools may reside in other platforms. One example could be a game where the The mobile phone is a good platform for serious player can customize the game character in detail in games. The phone is almost always with the user a web site but plays the game with mobile phone. and it is very accessible and can be aware of its One very potential mobile technology for creating context. The user can always access the phone and or publishing content is the mobile phone camera. engage in learning when he or she has time. In ad- Use of voice has potential too, however, the use of dition, the learning can happen in the right context, voice has not been utilized much in mobile games for instance, the players could get some additional today. Also, we have noticed in when playtesting information about the real locations where they are mobile games that quite often the players prefer to currently in. In health games the context becomes play the mobile games without the sound. even more important. A good example of a success- ful serious game in a portable gaming console is We will see more games where the players can pro- Nintendo DS Brainage . Even this success alone duce or create content (11) . However, these kinds of is likely to encourage some of the mobile developers games will not dominate the market in year 2010. to experiment more in the field of serious gaming. The technology is still a barrier in this area. Seriuos games are related to the bigger topic of per- Serious games suasive games. Advergames (games that advertise something) are another form of persuasive games Serious games can be defined as games that, in ad- and they are briefly discussed in the Section 4. (11)Lincoln Wallen defined the player created and published content nicely in Nokia’s NERD conference in year 2006. He dition to being fun, serve some useful purpose, such referred to player created content as something where the play- as education or staying healthy. All games can be Gambling er creates things from the scratch and player published content where the player uses content provided by the game developer said to be educational or to influence the player to to create content. In the latter case, the content has already some extent – the very core of gameplay is to learn Mobile gambling will gain popularity. The players value as itself. A good example of this is podcasting (user-pub- lished content) and users composing songs themselves (user- to master to play the game. can gamble with the mobile phone simultaneously created content).
13 Chapter 3: In the following, we have listed the technology trends that were found in our workshop and inter- views. It must be noted again that the new technolo- The bigger developers typically have their automat- ed testing platforms for testing mobile games. Technology gies listed in this report do not refer to Nokia road mapping but only to the interview data that was col- lected in this study. Camera The mobile-phone camera was already mentioned as an existing technology that will affect what kinds In this section we discuss the technological trends Platform fragmentation of games will be popular already in the near future. that are related to mobile games. The focus is more The mobile phone camera is mainly used for three in the platform issues, not as much in the mobile The platform fragmentation is one of the biggest purposes: 1. creating content, 2. interaction, and 3. network technologies, but it must be noted that both technological issues in mobile game development. creating augmented reality. The examples that we are important. The different platform manufacturer’s phones vary give are here are from our research projects, how- a lot, most importantly, in software development en- ever, it is likely that we will see commercial mobile The technological trends are particularly interesting vironments, screen sizes and keypads. The mobile games using the camera in similar ways already in since when a particular technology gets common phones developed by the same platform manufac- year 2010. A good example of a current commercial and accessible via APIs (Application Programming turer vary as well. Porting a mobile game to sev- mobile game where the camera is used for game in- Interfaces) in mobile phones, it can enable new eral platforms can be as expensive as developing the teraction is Final Fantasy: Before Chrisis . commercially viable mobile gaming styles. A very game itself. good example of this is the mobile phone camera, Many MUPE  games use the mobile phone cam- which is becoming almost like a standard feature in The platform fragmentation, according to our inter- era for content creation. One example of this is the the more advanced mobile phones. Not that many views, does not go anywhere by year 2010. Some Superstar game where the players try to take pic- commercial applications exist yet, however, the use improvements will happen, particularly among the tures of the other players without them noticing it. of mobile phone camera is very popular in research same platform manufacturer’s phones – the big- Another example of this a game prototype where the projects. In these research projects, the camera is ger manufacturers like Nokia know that this is a mobile-phone camera was used to create race tracks typically used for creating content, interacting with real problem for the developers and are working on in a rally game. The mobile-phone camera has been the game or other players, and creating augmented making their life easier. The bigger game publishers used for interaction in a few research projects. A reality. One of our invited papers roadmaps the fu- may also able to agree about some standards in the good example of this is the AR tennis game , ture mobile technologies (Sonja Kangas, VTT: The future. where the player uses the mobile phone camera to Technology Centre of Finland) . Another in- play tennis with another player. A classical example vited paper by Frank Fitzek of Aalborg University A big driver for the fragmentation is the fact that of an augmented-reality game that uses the mobile describes a new kind of network architecture that new devices come frequently in the market and that phone camera is the mosquito game, where mosqui- could be used in mobile games . may even increase the fragmentation in the future. toes (or viruses in another version) are augmented For the bigger mobile game developers the platform on top of a real world view. fragmentation can also been seen as an asset since it is a huge barrier to entry for the smaller ones.
14 Chapter 3 Technology networks include GPS, operator-provided location radio access protocols. In late 2005 and early 2006 tracking, proximity technologies, such as Bluetooth, during the initial real-world deployments of HSD- Wi-Fi, and identifying the CELL-ID. Since the lo- PA, data throughput rates for individual terminals cation-based games were already discussed earlier ranged from 1 to 3 Mbit/s with latency times be- in this document we will not go further in detail in tween 100 and 300. UMTS networks deployed with here. HSDPA are particularly attractive to operators due to the continued cost savings and projected subscriber Connectivity models which are associated. According to the 3G America’s website; UMTS users have grown to 81 The mobile phones will have more options for con- million subscribers globally in less than one year, necting to the mobile internet and the access will with projections of more than ten times that amount be more ubiquitous. The high-end mobile phones by 2011 . already have Wi-Fi connectivity, and it is likely to become more common in low-end mobile phones as 4G network technologies are already in planning but well. The ideal situation from the users point of view will not probably affect that much the market yet would be that the mobile phone could automatically in year 2010. These networks can potentially offer choose the most efficient network available (e.g. 100Mbps data transfer over IP compliant networks. Figure 9 A player using the mobile phone camera fastest or cheapest) seamlessly. We got indication in 4G networks may also be compiliant with Wi-Fi and as a controller when playing tennis against an- our interviews that some multi-player online games WiMax and reduce operator costs. other player may use streaming technology for gameplay. The operator interoperability can be sometimes a Other new interaction technologies The mobile network technologies are evolving, like problem. This could be the case when a game would in the past and we can expect the speed and the ca- use the operator’s presence service to see if quests Some mobile phones already incorporate 3D motion pacity to grow in the future as well. Currently, in the can be sent to a player who is not currently actively sensors that can be used for a new kind of game in- 2G networks the latencies are still rather high, typi- playing a game (to see if he or she is for instance teraction. Technologies that make controlling mobile cally ranging from 300ms to one second. There can working). games easier may gain popularity since that seems be also occasionally high latency peaks or the users to be a problem currently. may disconnect from the mobile network (particu- Bluetooth is one of the most commonly used tech- larly when commuting). GPRS and EDGE are the nologies currently for connecting multi-player mo- Location technologies most deployed 2G technologies. bile gamers. Tom Söderlund’s article  in our ar- ticle appendix discusses proximity gaming. Location-technologies are becoming more common 3G UMTS networks improve data rates greatly but and accessible in mobile phones. Location-based latency increases are marginal. In the 3GPP Rel-5, games were already discussed earlier in this report. HSDPA promises low latency times using IP based Examples of such technologies in mobile phones or network infrastructure combined with enhanced
15 Chapter 3 Technology Communication between the applications However, the game design nicely involves this and the JSR-118/MIDP 2.0 for 2D graphics, JSR-184/ uses the field radio as a metaphor for sending the M3G for 3D graphics, JSR-239 offering Java bind- Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) enables flexible messages in order not to break the immersion. ings for OpenGL ES, and the upcoming JSR-297/ game interaction functionality (see e.g. ). SIP M3G 2.0 which adds support for advanced features, protocol can be used for handling online game ses- Graphics performance such as programmable shading. sions, presence, and messaging in text or even data stream. Every player can be identified with a unique The graphics power of the mobile phones has in- All of these standards will have an impact on the SIP address. The players can, for instance, invite creased a lot – the high-end mobile phones like No- mobile games that will be developed in the near fu- other players who are not logged in the game to play kia N93 already have hardware accelerated graphics ture. with them. Using SIP may become more common in and are capable of showing equivalent graphics as the future since it seems to solve some of the prob- the PlayStation2 gaming console. This will make Software platforms lems that are related with online gaming and it is al- developing 3D games for mobile more feasible, ready commonly supported in the mobile networks. however, the usability issues for playing 3D games The software platforms for developing mobile with small displays must be taken into account. games that exist today will be still strong in year VoIP while playing Many mobile game developers and publishers seem 2010. The most popular one currently is Java. Brew to favor 3D games, which showed also in our inter- is also popular, particularly in the Northern Amer- Some of the online mobile games are likely to use views. For instance, Gameloft has announced that ica. Some developers choose to use Symbian for voice chat simultaneously with gameplay already in the company’s goal is to eventually launch all of its creating a richer gaming experience. In the native year 2010. This is due to the small size keypad that game titles in 3D . side, Windows Mobile is an upcoming competitor, needs currently not only to be used for communica- but not that many games for Windows Mobile exist tion but also for controlling the game. Voice com- The developers gain access to the new graphics fea- yet. munication with mobile is very natural, and as soon tures through the use of standardized graphics pro- as this is technically (and commercially) feasible, gramming APIs. An industry collaboration known A very promising new software platform for mobile some of the online mobile games will utilize it. as the Khronos Group has been very successful game development is Flash Lite. When Flash Lite in specifying high quality APIs with wide accept- becomes more common we will see a lot of porting Today we can already see some signs about going ance. Examples of these include the OpenVG API of old simple web games. In the research, Python to that direction, even if voice communication while for hardware accelerated 2D vector graphics and the has been quite popular. A good Python compiler ex- playing online mobile game is difficult to implement OpenGL ES for 3D graphics. All major manufac- ists for the S60 Nokia phones and it is used in many at the moment. In Pathway to Glory  mobile turers have either already implemented or are plan- research projects. game, the players can communicate with each other ning to implement these APIs in their handsets. An- with recorded short voice messages. The quality of other example of a Khronos group’s standard is the the voice messages sent over GPRS cannot compete OpenKODE initiative for native gaming . with the quality of making voice calls. On the Java side, the Java Community Process (JCP) has been equally active, with examples like
16 Chapter 3 Technology Convergence them in addition to a mobile phone. Then on the oth- The combination of connected gaming and increas- er hand, if the mobile phone ends up to be the play- ing popularity will create a need for enhanced secu- Convergence of the mobile phone technologies is er’s only gaming device, then getting sometimes an rity both in a technical sense and when considering a strong trend. A good example of convergence is enhanced gaming experience is desirable. cheating and other typical problems in online games. the mobile phone and camera. The high-end mobile Another issue that will make security even more im- phones are becoming more and more like mini com- In the following, we have listed a few development portant is gambling or trading game items for real puters that can handle various tasks. When more paths that could make mobile game peripherals suc- money . Such games have not yet been seen in mobile phones enable easy web browinsg, playing cessful already in year 2010: the mobile phones, but this may change in the near browser-based games with a mobile phone will be- future. Steven Davis’ paper on mobile game security come common. In some cases, the development of - The peripherals are multi-purpose devices in our collection of invited articles describes these accessories and peripherals for the mobile phones - Some of the users play games only with issues in detail . Protection of the content will may also increase divergence. their mobile become more important as its value gets bigger. - Content that support the use of peripherals Peripherals exists - The usability, coolness-factor, and pricing Development of peripherals can be an opportunity of peripherals are acceptable for the mobile phone to provide opportunities for a richer audio-visual game experience and better in- Security teraction. The other way to go is developing ways to connect mobile phones to already available other The security issues have not had a very big role so devices. A good example of this is TV-out connec- far in mobile gaming. The sellers have been natural- tion that already exists in some mobile phones (for ly interested that when a user buys a game he cannot instance, in Nokia’s N93 phone). These kinds of copy it to other devices. On the other hand, this is a connections also enable the users to use generic pe- problem for those who change mobile phones and ripherals for the mobile phone, e.g. data glasses that would like to play a mobile game with their new support external signal input. It should be also noted, device. However, this problem has not necessarily however, that the content often needs to be designed seen as a big one since a new phone model would to support the new output and input formats. need typically a new game version anyway. Also, many of the story-oriented current mobile games The success of peripherals for the mobile phone, do not include that much content and are quickly particularly dedicated ones, is not certain. One very played trough. important thing that separates the mobile phone from other portable gaming devices the mobile phone is However, as quality of mobile games increases and always with the user, even when the he or she would the gaming experiences become more connected, the not be planning to play games. It is not certain if the security issues become more and more important.
17 Chapter 4: customer, and the best billing mechanism that exists for mobile games. advergames. The alternate- or mixed-reality games also often tend to use a promotional revenue mod- els. Business We got indications in our interviews that the times will be hard for small mobile game developers in the near future. The solution for this is to team up with The mobile game players will be more often able to try out the games before buying them. A study a bigger publisher or aggregator. The operators are  commissioned by Nokia revealed that “Try be- Value Nets typically not interested in discussing with the small fore you buy” is very important for the mobile game players since they have established relationshi
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