The booming popularity of play on smartphones or tablet computers in a
realm once dominated by videogame consoles was a hot theme at the major
Game Developers Conference that ended San Francisco Friday.
Seminars, talks and
panels ran the gamut from how to get smartphone games noticed in the
growing sea of "apps" to behind-the-scenes looks at the creation of
blockbusters tailored for consoles or personal computers.
seeing this massive cornucopia of games now," Tech Savvy videogame
analyst Scott Steinberg said on the final day of the weeklong GDC.
"There is an explosion in the type and variety of games and a tremendous number of ways to play."
power of small studios and independent developers has risen along with
demand for fresh and entertaining games to play on mobile devices or
online as services in the Internet "cloud."
new-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony are expected to be
released this year, reviving interest in immersive blockbuster titles
while ramping up connections to content streamed online.
tracker ABI Research said that successful launches of new Xbox and
PlayStation models later this year could get console sales growing again
after years of decline.
"Mobile gaming has certainly diminished
the opportunities for console manufacturers in the casual game market
and this has impacted Nintendo the hardest," said ABI analyst Sam Rosen.
evolving business models and added competition have also created
additional pricing pressures that encourage price cuts sooner than
manufacturers would like."
ABI said that Nintendo's
freshly-released Wii U console has faced a "challenging market" since
the Japanese firm shipped nearly three million units during the holiday
season at the end of last year.
Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo,
along with established videogame titans, wooed developers at GDC while
independent mobile game makers shared tips on how navigate the expanding
world of play.
Games remain the most popular applications downloaded to mobile devices.
games are "absolutely vital" to the success of smartphones or tablets
and have expanded the range of players, Windows Phone senior marketing
manager Casey McGee said while at GDC to promote the software giant's
McGee contended that players are demanding games
that can be played in small doses on the move as well as titles to enjoy
at home on consoles when time provides.
"It is like books and
magazines," McGee told AFP. "You want some really thoughtful, deep
campaign games that are like books; you read them cover to cover and
sometimes go back and read them again.
"Then, there are also
magazines," he continued. "Things you love for an hour, maybe you love
for a week, but they turn over more. That is where you see a lot of
independent games and more casual games come into play."
In Motion began courting app makers long before the new BlackBerry
smartphone platform launched in January, vice president of global
alliances Martyn Mallick said at GDC.
"Sometimes there is a
misperception that the business user doesn't want to have fun," Mallick
told AFP while discussing the effort to win game developers to the BB10
"That is completely false; business users love to play games."
Games are an "absolutely critical" part of a smartphone platform, he noted.
that make chips powering smartphones or tablets have been busy boosting
processing and graphics capabilities with mobile games in mind.
Qualcomm and rivals Nvidia, and ARM each staked out places on the GDC show floor.
Qualcomm chip due out this year promised to deliver
ultra-high-definition video along with surround sound for games on
"We see a lot of opportunity in the ecosystem for gaming," said Qualcomm senior director of marketing Michelle Leyden Li.
know a lot of folks who became gamers when they got a smartphone; we
see this trend developing," she noted. "Consoles will stay. We are
making gamers out of people who were not gamers before."
videogame giants including Electronic Arts and Ubisoft have weighed into
the booming world of free-to-play mobile or social network games
supported by ads or sales of virtual items.
"There is a ton of
games out there, on every system and device, and people are more
empowered than ever to make them," Steinberg said. "The hard part is
going to be finding the diamond in the rough."