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Gameloft: Mobile games market set to quadruple

CFO says that as game quality increases, so will uptake

Gameloft CFO Alexandre de Rochefort has said that he expects mobile game sales to quadruple over the next 3-4 years – even if actual mobile phone penetration remains the same as it is today.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz following Gameloft's release of its 2009 year-end financials, de Rochefort said that as Java handsets are replaced by the new generation of smartphones, game sales will increase exponentially simply because the games that can be made for those handsets are of such higher quality.

"If I look at the long term growth for Gameloft and for mobile gaming in general, what I see is that the attach rate on Java phones is around 3 per cent, whereas on the next generation of smartphones, beginning with the iPhone, the attach rate is above 10 per cent. On the iPhone several studies have shown it's even as high as 15 per cent," he said.

"My point is that, basically, there is absolutely no doubt that in the next 3-4 years all Java phones will have been replaced by the next generation of smart phones. And this means that even if we have a similar install base – I'm not even betting on the increased penetration of mobile phones in the world, I'm just saying at equal install base - we are capable of growing this market 3-4 times just due to the fact that because the games are so much better on the next generation smartphones than they are on Java phones, because of that the consumer experience is much better and therefore – and we are living and experiencing this as we speak – the tie ratio is much higher on these phones.

"Just keep in mind that a Gameloft Java game is a 1MB game whereas a Gameloft smartphone game like on the iPhone is 100 – 400MB. So there's no question that the consumer experience is much better."

Mobile game revenue accounted for 94 per cent of the company's total in 2009, while iPhone sales grew a staggering 231 per cent on the previous year. In total the company has sold over 10 million games through the App Store since 2008 – an achievement that de Rochefort puts down to Gameloft's focus on creating quality, 3D games for mobile phones early on, and also to its fearless approach to new platforms.

"When we started to work on the Nokia N-Gage, I remember a lot of analysts were quite dubious about our reasons for going there. The thing is, we've been preparing Gameloft to be able to develop 3D games since 2004. And the reason why Gameloft has such high market share on the App Store, along with EA, when Glu and the other companies are nowhere to be seen, is really because we've been preparing for this shift for years now," he said.

He adds that the company "isn't shy" about investing in new devices – even when it doesn't know how those devices are going to perform in the long term.

"Gameloft was, as far as I know, the only European company invited by Apple to present on stage for the launch of the iPad and, to a certain extend, I believe this was because we've shown to Apple that we were ready to invest on new devices really as ahead of the new device as possible," he said.

"We're not shy, we are not fearful of investing – even if we don't know what the output will be. We've been investing on Google phones, on the Palm, on the iPhone and we're going to continue doing this and clearly it is our will to be present on the iPad when it is launched. I don't know with how many games but we'll be there."

On the subject of the iPad, de Rochefort is reluctant to offer an opinion - "I personally have not seen the device myself," he says. But he offers some insight as to its potential in the gaming market.

"The processor seems to be more powerful than that of the iPhone, the definition of the screen seems to be even better than on the iPhone, and the size of the screen is obviously much bigger. So, all things considered, my guess is that it's going to be a good device to play games on."

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