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Community features breathe new life into mobile games

Typically an unused wireless app, mobile games with a social slant are poised to take off

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While traditional mobile games may not be as successful as other mobile staples like ringtones and wallpapers, it may be the case that a social slant was missing. Hawkins said Digital Chocolate has served more than 100 million free games trials this year, all of which include a mobile upsell button, and Cellufun claims to bring in five million unique users per month. Compare this to the relative success of the mobile version of online social networking giant Facebook, attracting more than five million users in less than one year, and its clear the intersection of games and social networking shows promise. With handsets like the iPhone and T-Mobile’s new Android-based G1 phone, the roadblocks of discoverability and a poor user experience are also being torn down. If gaming follows the trend of social networks and expands beyond just a small group of young, tech-savvy users, as these game developers hope, social mobile games could be poised to take off.

“The public response to the iPhone indicates a huge trend – it was really the first time the mass public got excited about a mobile computing platform as a content device,” Hawkins said. “It shows that whereas 100 million people want a hardcore game console like the PlayStation, the number that would like to have, and will have, a platform like the iPhone, is going to be measured in the billions. It will take the entire industry to supply this demand, just as it took an entire industry to supply the PC market after Apple established the archetypal ideas.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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