Yahoo Moves Into Mobile Games
By Carlo Longino, Sat Mar 05 01:00:00 GMT 2005

The Web giant says it's started a mobile games studio, and instantly given it some bulk with an acquisition.

Yahoo, which is already the wired Web's top destination for games, is setting its sights on the mobile gaming world. The company said it has launched the Yahoo Games Studio to make games for handsets, and also bought mobile game developer Stadeon to bolster its efforts and create games where mobile users can play online against Web users.

It's a smart play by Yahoo, which looks to be setting up a battle with Google for the mobile space. Yahoo's wired games are already immensely popular, and while they may not take advantage of all the interactive and communicative possibilities the mobile platform offers, they reflect the potential of casual games in the mobile space -- something that's easy to pick up, easy to play, and can be enjoyed quickly.

It's no coincidence Yahoo's Web games share many of these characteristics. They're heavily weighted towards puzzles games that are easy to learn, maybe a little harder to master, don't require a lot of time or involvement -- lest somebody's boss walk by, of course. Another significant advantage for Yahoo will be their existing audience and its familiarity with the offerings already. That's not to say the company faces quite a task in converting those users to mobile users, whether it's getting them to download standalone games or connect to a Yahoo mobile site and play.

While Yahoo's gaming ambitions may realize a further merging of the wired and wireless Internets, its current mobile games site makes it look like the company takes a divergent pricing strategy, choosing to charge for its mobile games. Certainly the free availability of its Web games has helped make them so popular, but just because the games go mobile, will people want to pay for them?