The unexpected winner in smartphone boom: Social gaming

If you thought a saturation point in social gaming had been reached, think again. More virtual livestock looks set to be traded and petulant fowl hurled at targets as the genre takes hold in the booming mobile phone market, industry experts say.

Social gaming, made popular by titles such as “Farmville” and “Angry Birds“, was one of the closely followed topics at last week’s CommunicAsia in Singapore. The trade fair is billed as an international communications and information technology exhibition and conference is where telecom executives meet annually to check on new trends.

When one takes into consideration that it has been reported that Zynga, the maker of the wildly popular Farmville, was expected to make a revenue of US$1.8billion in 2011 and an anticipated profit of US$630million, this is hardly surprising.

According to discussions held at the conference, internet-enabled smartphones, as well as tablets, are liberating social gamers from the physical confines of home and office. Industry watchers also promised more titles specifically designed for handheld devices are on the way.

Asia-Pacific smartphone sales are expected to reach 200 million a year by 2016, a third of all mobile phones sold in the region, according to telecom consultancy Ovum.

“At least 90 percent of gamers will be on mobile in the future”, said Jeffrey Jiang, a director at Singapore-based Touch Dimensions, which develops games for various platforms.

He said his firm’s clients now favour social games designed for mobile phones rather than personal computers or consoles such as the Xbox 360.

Jiang said that when he’d started in the industry, mobile had been an afterthought with projects being mostly aimed at the PC market. “But now most of the projects that people ask from us is (sic) about mobile”, he added.

Jiang, whose firm creates games for mobile brands such as the iPhone, Android and Nokia, said light social gamers, rather than hardcore videogame players would be the future drivers of developer industry growth. — AFP



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