Innovation & Design

Overcoming the Demons of Mobile


The keynote, titled, "The Future of Mobile Gaming and its Enemies", addressed market challenges which Lasky referred to as "demons lurking in the shadows."

He said bluntly, "There are too many bad games. The fact is, most games suck. It's the greatest danger to the future of this business. There's a real danger of an Atari 2600 episode here, given the oversupply of poor quality content, followed by consumers abandoning the platform."

He said the ideal number of games available should be about half of that which most carriers hold. "It's crazy that games like Tetris and Madden are getting the same attention from carriers as some Chinese whack-a-mole game." He also pointed out that the top 20 mobile games generated the top 93 percent of revenues, while most carriers are offering up to 400 games.

The lack of decent multiplayer mobile games could also play into the demise of mobile gaming, according to Lasky.

"Where are the connected games? Multiplayer gameplay has not progressed in the last three years." He predicted that "a casual mobile version of World of Warcraft will blow the lid off this industry, not a hardcore RPG, but something that has that social feel."

He added that multiplayer games are "very expensive to deploy."

Thirdly, Lasky singled out "unpredictable business models," which he said "disrupt thte entire value chain." He took the opportunity to warn carriers not to seek increased revenue shares.

"Carriers will not grow this business by squeezing publishers. This is not the ringtone business," he said. "We actually make stuff."

Lastly, Lasky talked about the "unpleasant shopping experiece" of buying games through mobiles. "In the last two years, content providers have gone through an entire [mobile] console transition from 2D to 3D. In contrast, the shopping experience has not changed at all."

The mobile game industry is facing a number of challenges, including stagnating growth, price erosion, increased costs and consumer apathy.

Lasky argued that EA's acqusition of Jamdat could serve as a catalyst for the mobile market.

"This was exactly what the market needs to realize the future of mobile gaming," he said of the acquisition. "Before the merger, Jamdat could not match EA's reach, and at the same time, EA did not have the execution ability that Jamdat has. The merger has created a company that is necessary."

He warned that mid-size competitors could struggle in the next few years. "It's too late for mid-sized publishers who are barely profitable and don't own hits." However, he said that there is an enormous opprotunity for "small, tightly-focused development teams with original product."

"Developers who retain ownership of their IP could create really significant value," Lasky said.


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