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Id's Unrepressed Desire: Mobile Gaming

By Walaika Haskins
Nov 15, 2007 3:43 PM PT

Fountainhead Entertainment and Id Software, the developer behind the "Doom" and "Quake" video game series, have announced they have come together to create a new division at Id Software: Id Mobile. The software developer's new arm will create games for cell phones, the handheld Nintendo DS and Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP).

Id's Unrepressed Desire: Mobile Gaming

The new division follows earlier forays from the Id/Fountainhead team into mobile game development. The company released "Doom RPG," a combination first-person shooter and role-playing game (RPG) for mobile handsets in 2005. "Orcs & Elves," an adventure RPG also for cell phones, launched in 2006.

"Worldwide, mobile gaming has the potential to eclipse conventional gaming platforms," said John Carmack, technical director and cofounder of Id Software. "The resource constraints of mobile platforms reward technical and design virtuosity, making it a place where we can leverage the historic strengths of our company."

Id also announced the availability of "Orcs & Elves" for the Nintendo DS and the upcoming release of "Orcs & Elves II" for major cell phone carriers in December.

Burgeoning Market

In the U.S., the mobile gaming market is expected to grow to between US$600 million and $700 million in revenue this year, according to statistics from Park Associates.

Id is just the latest among the major developers to make the decision to add mobile game development and publishing to their portfolio permanently, said Michael Cai, director of broadband and gaming research at Parks.

"Most of the large developers and publishers have established their own mobile divisions, and in fact Glu and Gameloft are about the only two pure-play mobile publishers out there," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"Many large media companies have also made a greater investment in the space, bringing their IP in house and building their own mobile publishing business," Cai explained.

The global mobile games market is set to reach $10 billion by 2009, according to the U.K.-based Juniper Research. The firm cites the increasing popularity of casual gaming in conjunction with a "steadily increasing variety of gaming-friendly handsets" with high-quality 3-D graphics targeted at core gamers as the reason behind the increase in revenues.

Hardcore Games on Handsets?

Although the majority of successful mobile games have been casual games, hard-core console-like games have a niche audience on mobile platforms, according to Cai.

"As more 3G networks and handsets become available and new phones come equipped with advanced graphics capabilities, there'll certainly be more industry and consumer interest in playing certain more advanced games on the mobile platform," he continued.

Developing for mobile platforms is more complex because developers need to make the game work on hundreds, if not thousands, of mobile phones. Still, game developers need to be careful, Cai warned, that they do not simply "dumb down their successful PC and console games" to make them available on mobile devices.

"They need to build games with unique mobile phone characteristics in mind. "Doom RPG" has been well received in the mobile gaming industry, and hopefully Id Software will devote more efforts on mobile and portable gaming platforms."


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