Cell Phone Services Vendors Banking on Mobile Gaming Apps
The U.S. wireless service industry had a highly successful year in 2005, crossing the 200 million subscriber and 70 percent market penetration thresholds, with positive market response to the first handset-based 3G applications, and with providers reporting they had crossed the 10 percent data ARPU level.
04/08/06 1:30 AM PT
His name is Jack Bauer. He's a federal agent, and he has almost no time left to complete his urgent assignment for the President of the United States. So, he's going to have to kill you if you don't cooperate.
That's a typical, weekly scenario from the smash hit Fox TV drama, "24," starring Kiefer Sutherland.
Soon, a mobile game version of the show is coming to a mobile handset near you.
"Mobile users worldwide now have the chance to accept a high priority, time-sensitive assignment from CTU agent Jack Bauer," Anna Brog, a spokesperson for I-play, the U.K.-based game developer, told TechNewsWorld.
She added that "24" is "one of the market's most desirable licenses." As mobile phone voice revenue margins continue to slip, mobile phone operators are looking for any tactical, and strategic, advantage they can have. Selling interactive games that keep consumers on the phone, for as long as possible, playing with others, is their best bet for future revenues.
The U.S. wireless service industry had a highly successful year in 2005, crossing the 200 million subscriber and 70 percent market penetration thresholds, with positive market response to the first handset-based 3G applications, and with providers reporting they had crossed the 10 percent data ARPU level, according to research from IDC, a Framingham, Mass.-based consultancy.
"Total voice service revenue declines late in the forecast period will jolt an industry accustomed to 25 years of voice revenue growth and further emphasize the importance of data services to the future of the industry. With the wireless subscriber market approaching saturation, driving further adoption usage of data services will be critical to maintaining total ARPU and service growth in light of continuing voice ARPU erosion," said Scott Ellison, program director, wireless and mobile communications at IDC.
The report noted "the increasingly critical role of content and entertainment in driving data service revenue."
More deals like the one between Fox Mobile Entertainment and I-play are likely. With "24" The Mobile Game, your mobile phone is a portal into the world of CTU, the fictional Counter-Terrorist Unit, the companies said.
Users can use their own "spy phone" to control the mission and guide Jack Bauer and other CTU agents through the longest day of their lives. With an array of gadgetry and agents at players' disposal, the clock ticks as users can choose to take on a variety of missions.
"The mobile game will blow away mobile gamers and fans of the TV series, which has an enormous following across all age groups and geographies. The combination of storyline and individual missions provides a completely unique gameplay experience which will keep gamers coming back for more," said David Gosen, acting CEO of I-play.
According to the market consultancy, m:metrics, as of January 2006, close to 40 percent of mobile subscribers in the U.S. were between the ages of 13 and 34, a demographic that's known to also be interested in gaming, including those of the mobile genre.
Other developers chasing the mobile gaming market include Starwave Mobile, which recently announced a mobile licensing agreement with Hong Kong-based Artificial Life to exclusively publish localized versions of Artificial Life's famous 3G games, V-girl: your Virtual Girlfriend and V-boy: Your Virtual Boyfriend, in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
The V-girl and V-boy applications are role-playing mobile games complete with robust storylines and video components. Players begin by choosing a potential virtual girlfriend or boyfriend among several available candidates before embarking on a virtual courtship.
In the V-girl game, players can interact with a realistic virtual girlfriend supported by artificial intelligence. She can laugh, send text messages and chat about a wide range of topics including art and philosophy or her day at the office. She enjoys receiving gifts such as flowers and candy as well as going on virtual dates in a variety of settings including the local nightclub and movie theaters.