EA: Core gamers under-served on mobile

"In three years you won't be able to recognise the state of the mobile games industry"

The dedicated hardcore gamer is under-served in the mobile market, as developers assume handsets are purely for casual gaming experiences, according to EA.

Setting out to bust a number of myths about mobile gaming, Travis Boatman, vice president of Worldwide Studios at Electronic Arts also told the DICE Summit today that although handsets are an item users carry at all times, almost 50 per cent of players experience games when at home, not on the move.

"Dead Space 2 targeted the core gamer and that surprised a lot of people," he said of the recent hit release. "And if you're targeting the at home player you can have a bigger file size."

The myth that mobile players are experiencing games "on the run" is wrong, said Boatman. 47 per cent play when at home, 14 per cent at work and only 12 per cent whilst commuting.

The idea that mobile is only for casual gamers is wrong said Boatman. "There's a hungry market looking for different games experiences. It's not just casual, core gamers are under-served in mobile market."

He also said that porting content between devices was important, and developers shouldn't just focus on one system such as Apple's iOS.

Using the Kindle as an example, Boatman said his company's Scrabble game for the system was a massive success, outselling all books and other content for the device.

"It has a great digital distribution method. Most [developers] think they can't push the technology, but the experience on a Kindle is awesome.

" It's a unique and fascinating experience to sit in direct sunlight and play Scrabble. When we put the game out it outsold everything. Everyone wants to play games. Is it important to port games to other devices? Yes."

The final myth - that current technology is offering the best games experience on mobile, is also wrong, said Boatman.

"Is this is as good as it gets? I don't think it ends here. We're in a place where there's a lot more room to go. I don't think the industry stops here. The young developers of today grew up with this stuff. Think about how they are attacking the space."

"We're on the cusp of something great. In three years you won't be able to recognise the state of the mobile games industry," he concluded.

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Latest comments (10)

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
He talks of potential for "hardcore" games on mobile devices and uses the success of his casual game to support the notion?
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 10 years ago
+10 Jimmy...

also, battery life, eyestrain from long sessions of tiny screen gaming, walking into fountains or heavy traffic, missing bus/train stops and so forth and so on might also hurt the argument for some gamers still not convinced... ;^P

Granted, there ARE some well made action games on mobile platforms (Gameloft may be swipey-swipey on the ideas front, but it's hard to ignore some of their cooler-looking mobile titles out there) and I'm sure other teams are cooking up stuff that will impress. We'll see what EA has their devs cook up, I'm sure...
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Sam Brown Lead Audio Programmer, TT Games10 years ago
"We're on the cusp of something great. In three years you won't be able to recognise the state of the mobile games industry,"

I want the glasses and mobiles from Halting State. Then I'll be happy.
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Show all comments (10)
David Bachowski VP Business Development, Babaroga10 years ago
I for one believe he is right on almost all of his points. I used to play my DS a lot until I got an iTouch. Now besides an occasional romp through dragon age or the witcher, all of my gaming is done on the iPod - at home, on the train, etc. The devices keep getting better and developers are coming up with innovative ideas that truly use the capabilities of the device they are running on. The only thing stopping full-scale "hardcore" games are the price point these games sell at.
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Hugo Trepanier Senior Game Designer, Ludia10 years ago
Jimmy, Dead Space on iPhone is a pretty hardcore experience if you compare it to Angry Birds and other top 10 apps of the moment. We've also got a version of Battlefield Bad Company and I can tell you there's more hardcore games in the coming lineup (I work for EA Mobile though not on these two franchises).

I think Travis' main point is that there is a lot of untapped potential for more of these types of games, and many others that may not necessarily be regarded as typical casual fare, that will change the current perception of mobile gaming. It's a vastly different experience from console but it has its own merits.

There seems to be a certain amount of cynicism in the industry regarding casual and mobile gaming, as though it was the dumb cousin of the family. However consider this: it's a breeding ground for innovation. It's a lot easier to test out new ideas on a lower budget without having to risk the entire business on a $20M title. Mobile gaming is accessible and affordable to most people, and the technology powering it only keeps getting better year after year.

I understand it may not appeal to everyone but it would be a mistake to toss it aside as a worthless industry.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
Hugo, certainly the market exists for those types of games on mobile devices. My point was that he advocated for the expansion of that market while using the success of a very non-hardcore title as validation.

I do believe that the average scope and required time investment for mobile phone titles will still remain less than those found on consoles. The thematic elements, stylings, concepts, etc...of hardcore console titles may find a home on mobile phones but they won't have the same scope. And I doubt they grab a significant portion of the market. Doesn't mean they won't work at all, just don't flood the market with them and expect big sales. And that's where I fear they will have their problem. Not in quality or playability but in obscurity and/or overcrowding.

We saw how a similar affect happened with the DS and Wii. Casual games were the new market and publishers crowded themselves out of profit and relevancy.
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Richard Morwood Studying Bach. of Computer Science, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology10 years ago
The Scrabble example wasn't to support core games, it was to backup that people are playing while at home, not just while commuting.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
Fair enough, Richard. Just seemed an odd selection to support any notion when the crux of your whole debate is at the opposite end of that spectrum.

As for playing portable consoles at home, I never knew that was up for debate. Sure, portable consoles are always known for their traveling convenience but how can anyone come to any form of conclusion that gamers stop playing their portable consoles when they walk through their door at home? A good video game is a good video game. They get played whenever the mood strikes....not wherever.
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 10 years ago
I agree with getting games out to every device. Don't try and port Dead Space to Kindle but a game like Scrabble is a great fit for that type of console.
And as for hardcore games, he's right. BUT the control mechanics need to be fine-tuned quite a bit. Something has to work better. When my thumbs are covering up at least 1/3 of the screen to use the onscreen buttons it's a gameplay problem. There's a way to use the touchscreen, and I don't really know what it is (but I'd definitely say aim by tilting the device), but currently shooters and action games aren't being done quite right due to the controls.
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Ben Herman CEO 10 years ago
He is 110% correct about the hardcore gamers. Hard core gamers wait for mobile gaming devices that work with HD 3D effects equal to PS3 and Xbox 360 graphics. Mobile phone engines keep improving. had mobile games in the early part of this century but the handsets were too weak. We are in a transition period. Sony Erikson Xperia phone will play PS1 games. I want the phones that will play PS3 games. 2015 is coming. The future is near. New Nvidia chips will bring 3D gaming to phones, tablets, PC's, TV's and ???? Glasses or not most games are played while at home. It is tough enough to drive talking on the phone. Can you imagine driving and playing a game? You had best be in the back seat while someone else drives the car. LOL....

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ben Herman on 16th February 2011 9:14pm

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