Moving on to the next casual gaming genre: mobile games. This term often includes hand-held gaming systems such as the PSP or DS, but for the moment I am sticking strictly to cell phones. US mobile gaming revenue for 2005 reached $600 million according to eMarketer, and it is projected to reach $1.5 billion in 2008. At the moment, these profits come largely from people buying simple puzzle games, however, this may not be the case forever. Nokia has teamed up with G-Mode to develope multi-player games that better utilize newer phones internet capabilities, and bring mobile gaming to a much more advanced stage. These games are popular with large audiences, and are only getting more advanced.
Mobile advertising, on the other hand, is in its younger stages of development, according to The Economist, with companies having spent $871 million world-wide last year. However, buzz is beginning about the future possibilities of this mode of advertising. There are 2.5 billion mobile phones around the world which are often carried around with people everywhere they go, giving advertisers the opportunity to reach people outside their homes and offices. In addition, by using mobile firms profiles of costumers (assuming they can get this information), advertisers can send out relevant ads that would fit with each subscriber's habits, hopefully making such advertising less annoying to the consumer. One way advertisers have been utilizing this is by placing ads on pages where people go to download games. Another is similar to internet usage, where people have the option of receiving free content in exchange for watching one or more ads.
However, there are still several problems which need to be worked out in order for mobile advertising to grow. First of all, only about 12% of people use the internet capabilities on their cell phones because of high rates and small screens. Newer phones such as the Apple iPhone are combating the small screen issue, but the high rates of accessing the internet on a cell phone may cause problems for advertisers for a long time to come. Another problem is that of accessing people's personal information. Cell phone service providers have a lot of information about their customers that would be very interesting to advertisers. However, privacy laws prevent them from getting it, and it could be argued that this is a good thing, however much it may decrease their ability to connect with the right people.
One more problem is the issue of how welcome these advertisements would be. Most people consider their cell phones personal, and do not want to deal with the intrusion. Quickly Bored mentions that 90% of users are against the idea of receiving ads on their phones; not that this means they won't put up with it if it means that they will receive something in return.
Finally, the problem exists that advertisers have not reached a consensus on how mobile game advertising should be done. There are several different formats that would be possible, but for reasons such as lack of interoperability between carriers it could be difficult to even make this type of advertising particularly profitable.
In conclusion, while mobile games themselves are only getting stronger and more popular, it may be a while before advertisers get their acts together when it comes to using this new medium to their advantage.