In a speech delivered at the Leipzig GC Developer Conference, I-play's Stephane Labrunie has declared that mobile gaming is set to overtake console gaming by the end of the year.
According to Labrunie, mobile gaming "is the definition of a true mass market; it's not a niche market, as is console gaming."
To support this argument, Labrunie pointed to the fact that 48 per cent of mobile gamers are female, while 58 per cent are aged between 18 and 34. Although he conceded that the market "will take time to grow", Labrunie stated that "This market will sell more games on mobile than traditional consoles in 2006."
He went on to quote figures which forecast sales of 1.8 billion game-enabled handsets by 2008. By 2010, the number of paid downloads per year is set to reach 1.7 billion, while gross revenues will rise to US$ 5.9 billion.
However, Labrunie said, there are still problems to overcome. Around 33 per cent of handset owners don't know they can play games on their phones, and while more than 50 per cent have played embedded games or demos, just 5 per cent have actually downloaded a game. In addition, 16 per cent of gamers say pricing is a barrier to downloading more games.
"We have customers, but definitely not enough," Labrunie stated.
"Some have no more credit on their pre-pay card, some do not have time, some don't know how to download games... Trust is a very important factor, because you need to buy in a safe environment.
"If you keep all that in mind, it will help us to build a good strategy to perform well in this business."
Labrunie said that the emergence of new technologies, such as 3G, will help to boost the mobile gaming market. "New technology, from my point of view, is really about faster, easier access to the network... You will have a much more intuitive experience - you will know where to download mobile games, and you will know how to do it."
He went on to encourage designers to "think simplicity, traction and innovation" when creating games, and he also had some advice for fellow publishers: "We need to put the customer in the middle of our thinking. I'm saying that because you have to remember that mobile gaming is not a retail market; it's very much driven by the carrier industry."
Concluding his speech, Labrunie said that "the best is yet to come", reaffirming that "Mobile gaming will be the fastest growing segment of the total videogames industry".