Mobile Games Insider: Don't disrespect us

Industry big wigs defend our pastime

Mobile Games Insider: Don't disrespect us

Normally when figures from the mobile gaming industry converge, the discussion highlights the positive position of mobile games as a unique medium for entertainment undergoing explosive growth. But having already discussed cross-platform gaming and licensed titles, Mobile Games Insider attendees in Los Angeles this week turned more defensive, with speakers taking a look at the stepchild status mobile games seemingly take to console and handheld play.

Wedbush Morgan Analyst Michael Pachter started the debate with a key observation. "Wall Street doesn't look at mobile games because people buy a communication device and not a dedicated gaming machine," he stated, "therefore, most investors don't want to take a risk on secondary functionality."

Mr. Pachter's point is valid, but it must be noted that a huge proportion of people who own a mobile phone have used it in some fashion to play games. With a percentage of users at least willing to try games on their handsets, the challenge is to provide compelling content.

Currently, a huge divide exists between casual titles and more hardcore fare, and this fragments gamers. Most players do not fall under the hardcore category, steering away for advanced three-dimensional games with complex controls that often take inspiration from PSP and Nintendo DS titles.

"Trying to mirror handheld games, such as those on PSP, is difficult," noted Larry Shapiro of Walt Disney Mobile. "We steer away from that."

Interestingly enough, executive Vice President of Glu Mobile, Rocky Pimentel, suggests the industry should flip the model around: "Right now, we're exploring the option of taking our original brands from mobile to consoles."

Would extending franchises to other platforms from a mobile base garner respect for the industry? It seems unlikely that a single measure could turn around the disdain many gamers still have toward mobile gaming.

Ultimately, it's important to remember, as Eric Berger, Vice President of Sony Pictures, Mobile Division, eloquently put it, "There's no such thing as hardcore mobile games, it's all casual entertainment."

Attempting to push the industry into gaining legitimacy by complicating games and basing them off of console titles essentially abandons the platform's strengths. If there's anything to take away from this rather defensive debate, it's that mobile games are unique and deserve due respect in their own right.