@ 3GSM: EA, Real Pan Networks Over Mobile Game Carriage

Carriers must get better at retail if mobile gaming is to become a mainstream entertainment medium, mobile games makers said at 3GSM. RealNetworks’ Europe mobile games director Gunnar Larsen said 65 percent of mobile games sold were “casual” games and the mobile sector was about to go mass-market – but first had to combat 80% churn rate after consumers’ first play.

“There are fantastic games out today,” he said. “Some operators are doing a really good [sales] job, others can improve. Operators ned to adopt some high street retail practices. Using try-before-you-buy or bundling games can help us jump into the mainstream. We should also look at subscriptions as a pricepoint. We need to have a better flexibility in the pricing. ”

Electronic Arts’ Europe VP Javier Ferreira added that the carriers were making the mobile games consumer experience too complicated.

“How many people know how to go to an operator portal and download a game?,” he said. “And how many of those are not scared to do that? If I go to a web page, is that going to be £5? We have real issues with creating ways for consumers to access virtual shops in an easy way. We need to bridge that gap between willing to play and willing to pay. We’d like to see total flexible billing mechanisms … where high, low, try-as-you-buy and so on can be offered to consumers. That’s the obvious way forward.”

The sector appears in a quandary of the casual/hardcore dichotomy, mobile versions of console titles that over-promise and the underlying pricing mechanisms discussed here.

For the telcos, Telefonica head of games Pablo Gozalo put up a limp defense to the games creators, saying operators, too, needed help in popularizing mobile gaming. “Perhaps the consumer wants to open a box of Corn Flakes and they find a code there that allows them to buy another game. Then they could become a games buyer. People have a lot of fear about pricing and frustration of not getting the experience. We need the content providers and creators to come together to do this; the publishers can help us a lot. Our duty is to give flexible billing systems to providers.”