Mobile gaming is nothing new, it's been popular since the original Gameboy way back in 1989. Since then, numerous other systems have come and gone from various companies, but none as successful. Today we have 2 handheld gaming systems, one from Nintendo and the other from Sony. We are seeing a very heated competition between the two for the mobile market, and it's only getting hotter. These two systems are not the only ones out there vying for the almighty portable gaming dollar though. There is another competitor. This one is a little different. There is no standard platform, not many big name publishers, and not much in the way of gamer recognition. Even so, most people these days have one of these systems right now. I have one here, beside me, and you probably do, too. What system am I talking about? The humble cellphone.

Yes, the cellphone is turning into the next lucrative gaming platform. I know, I'm surprised myself. But, this is a growing trend, and no, it's not new. I used to work in the cellphone business, way back in those glory days of the mid 90's. Back then cellphones did not have color LCD screens. All we had back then were the standard one line number-only displays. State of the art was the Motorola StarTac phones. A game on a cellphone in those days? Not a chance, never happened. A couple of years later, something funny happened. Cellphones ended up getting LCD screens, and with them, games. They started with simple games are first, black and white versions of Snake or Tetris rip-offs were common, but not today.

The mobile gaming business is huge, and only getting bigger. It's been estimated that the mobile gaming business could possibly reach $8.4 billion by 2010. Now that's a lot of money up in the air, and todays big name publishers are trying to take advantage of it. Take a look at EA and Activision Blizzard. EA owns a company by the name of Jamdat, which in 2005 had an estimated $80 million in earnings and 31% market share in the cellphone gaming market. Second place was a little company called Namco that held 9%. You can see the logic behind the EA purchase of this company. Cellphone games are, by console gaming standards, cheap and easy to make. Why not jump into this ever growing market.

And jump in they have. We have heard recently that a company called IG Fun has secured the rights to make games based on the BioShock property for the mobile market. And that's not the only big name game announcement about mini-sizing themselves. The co-founder of Blizzard, Frank Pearce, in an interview stated that they are looking at bringing some of the World of Warcraft world to the cellphone market. In the interview, Pearce does state that the game itself won't be ported over, that instead they could provide, via cellphones, access to auctions, in-game mail, and other gaming functions to enhance the game experience for the player. In itself, this is an innovative way to integrate new technologies into the lives of WoW players. Maybe by having this ability on cellphones will allow these people to leave their homes more often and see daylight. Have you seen one of those people? They practically glow from being so pale.

This year looks to be very interesting in the mobile market. Whether they realize it, Nintendo and Sony have more then each other as competition in the mobile marketplace. Cellphone games are very popular in other parts of the world, and it's only a matter of time they become popular here. Let's see what they can do with BioShock and (believe it or not) Spore. Yes, Spore, the massive evolution simulator, is scheduled to have a cellphone version too. What this means, we don't know, but it should be interesting.


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