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Mobile gaming gains steam — 4.5 lakh downloads are made every month

Abhinav Ramnarayan

Chennai , Nov. 21

IF you're still playing Snake II and trying to beat your own personal high score, then you're just not with it. Mobile games are slowly becoming as varied as computer games; one glance at any of the mobile game provider's Web sites, be it Mauj Telecom or Indiagames, confirms this.

From strategy to action, arcade to sports, and even a sudoku game, it's all there.

Mr Arun Gupta, Chief Operating Officer, Mauj Telecom, a telecom solutions and content provider company, says in India, around 4.5 lakh game downloads are made onto mobiles every month. And it is growing by 30-40 per cent. He says, "With the introduction of faster networks and colour java handsets becoming more affordable, the Indian mobile gaming market is expected to grow tenfold in five years."

India is slowly catching up with what is a huge market globally. Some Indian companies have had their games on portals in the UK and the US.

For instance, Dhruva Interactive, which develops games for PCs, videogame consoles and mobiles, was rated 7.9/10 by gamespot.com for its international signature product, `Maria Sharapova Tennis'. It had two of its mobile games on Vodafone's top five list.

As for India, Mr Rajesh Rao, Chief Executive Officer, Dhruva, says, "Mobile phone is the primary gaming device for many here." But it is possible that they will gravitate to a more compelling device, and the PC gaming market is bound to benefit.

For the user, the only question of relevance is: where are these games available? Usually these games are either available on the Web site, or on the `wapsite', as WAP platforms are called, or through operator portals. Mauj uses all three channels.

Some companies tie up with phone manufacturers to make the games available on handsets. Softex Digital, for example, is a Siemens advanced development partner for mobile applications, and distributes its games globally over the Siemens distribution platform.

Mr Raju Harilal, General Manager, Softex Digital, says the company took to the projects route rather than the games route. "By the time we got around to it, the market was flooded with mobile game providers." He says, "I guess we missed the bus."

The success of mobile gaming has benefited another industry — mobile porting. Mobile porting refers to configuring a game, and making it compatible with different mobile phone devices. "There are 900 different kinds of mobile phones worldwide," says Mr Srinivas Sharma, Vice-President - Marketing, Small Device Mobile Technologies, which has cashed in on this opportunity. He says, "If you want to be a global player, your software will have to support all technologies on all handsets."

And this is where porting comes in. Globally, the porting market is worth $8 billion, according to Mr Sharma, but that includes all java applications, and not just games. "Also, a lot of publishers have their own in-house porting division," he says.

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