Mobile Monday Amsterdam

Directions Some random notes from Mobile Monday Amsterdam, where I was invited last monday (to give a talk about "what the hell happened to location-based games"). The event was more specifically about mobile gaming/entertainment:

  • Jeroen Ellferich interestingly brought this intriguing question: would you differentiate an iphone from an ipodtouch? is a Nintendo DS a mobile game platform? what about eee pc?
  • He also reported on the odd fact that the most downloaded games today are the same as 5 years ago: tetris, pacman, who want to be millionaire, monopoly here and now, bejeweled, showing how the field is not very innovative.
  • To him, the dark side of the mobile industry have the following characteristics: flattening growth traditional developers and publishers on mobile in troubles, fragmentation and porting hell (450 phone models!), flawed vale chain and low rev shares, lack of innovation in past years
  • BUT, he showed that there is some hope: iphone and android trigger mobile content revival, flat-free and connectivity become the norm, there is a business case for location-based games (!?), social networks and games are a "killer combo", touchscreen, tilt, compass are opportunities too
  • Kamar Shah, formerly at Nokia, described how users are far from the dream of having a simple mobile entertainment platform (as simple as we had on TV). He showed how people are tired because of fragmentation (operators, services, partners), experience is generally shit, it does not work, people pay twice... and unfortunately bad meme spread faster
  • Kamar also mentionned that people want to watch stuff, tv, high def, replicate their experience on the mobile: it's the platform and the content that will drive the revenue, not the hardware.
  • His main point was that the consumer experience is based on 5 key elements: how to find, try, buy, manage and share:
    1. we should make content accessible (over the air, on device, off the portal, on the portal...), consumer choose afterwards and have different habits: "content is king, distribution is king kong"
    2. people need to be able to try: demo, free-trial (website, on the phone), engage consumers otherwise the top 3 games will still be tetris and pacman!
    3. you have to enable all payment and billing mechanisms (micropayments...)
    4. when you buy food, you put it in the fridge, where do you put mobile games? there's a need of storage and manage in an easy place; apple does that really well: they have a marketplace where to go
    5. sharing content for free: it has to work, if you like sth, you'd like to pass it on, you should be able to send it via email, bluetooth...
  • Redefining the consumer experience implies taking care of these 5 issues.
  • He concluded that the financial crisis will have important consequences: people loose their job, can't pay the rent, how will they find the money to buy games? what's gonna happen? Kamar said that (1) people will have more time, (2) consumer demand will go down, people will learn what to do with what they have (the complexity of mobile phones), will educate themselves. It's good for our industry, because it's expensive for the industry to educate consumers. They will do it by themselves, (3) we will be able to take our technology right (and it takes time)

Thanks Yuri van Geest and Maarten Lens-FitzGerald for the invitation!