Mobile Games Growing In US
By Carlo Longino, Fri Aug 27 22:30:00 GMT 2004

A new study says that nearly a fifth of video-game players have bought a game for their mobile, with the number of American households playing mobile games doubling this year.

Ziff-Davis Media conducted its annual "Digital Gaming in America" survey in May and June, and the results it announced are nearly all focused on growth in mobile gaming. The company says 16.3 million US households play mobile games, up from 8.1 million in 2003. This number, while exploding, still pales in comparison to the number that play console games -- 54.5 million.

The study shows that 70% of video-game players own mobile phones, and half of those play games on them. Eighteen percent have bought games for their phones, spending an average of $19 on mobile games in the two months preceding the survey. The survey doesn't go into great detail on this spending, such as if it's biased towards subscription-based games or download purchases, but either way, it's a significant figure.

The news backs up an earlier report analyst report that sees the global mobile gaming market worth $8 billion in the five years, with spending on the rise as gamers defy demographic stereotypes and the number of Java- or BREW-enabled handsets increases. It also helps explain the recent flurry of venture capital activity in the space.

But gamers don't see mobile phones as perfect gaming platforms just yet. Half say screen size and cost are deterrents to playing games on phones, while 75% don't like the controls and 85% don't like the picture quality. Forthcoming portable devices like the Nintendo GameBoy DS and Sony PSP are in a completely different league when it comes to graphic and processing power, though mobile-phone games have come a long way since Snake. But given the interest -- and spending -- the mobile industry wants to close the gap between the two sooner rather than later.