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MEM: Glu VP outlines challenges in delivering mobile multiplayer

Speaking at the Mobile Entertainment Market expo, Kristian Segerstrale VP of production at Glu Mobile discussed the challenges of developing mobile multiplayer games, an area at present, accounting for just a fraction of the overall mobile gaming market.

Speaking at the Mobile Entertainment Market expo, Kristian Segerstrale VP of production at Glu Mobile discussed the challenges of developing mobile multiplayer games, an area at present, accounting for just a fraction of the overall mobile gaming market.

There is a lot to learn, but the opportunities for a guaranteed and sustained revenue stream are there, predicted Segerstrale. "Connectivity is integral to all mobile devices and the billing for network usage is already in place", he added.

To grow a subscriber base for any multiplayer game, you need to engage in a direct billing relationship. "In mobile, there is already a relationship between user and operator", so in principle, there is a market opportunity for mobile multiplayer waiting to be tapped.

The challenges in the current climate however, appear to far outweigh the opportunities. Fragmentation of devices "takes development to a different level altogether" Segerstrale said, highlighting the bloated costs associated with testing and physical deployment across multiple handsets.

Segerstrale's solution is to "dumb down your offering, appeal to the lowest common denominator". By doing so, developers will reduce costs and minimise the complexities associated with the deployment of mobile multiplayer games; "the challenge is to derive success from simplicity," he added.

"The challenges are not to be underestimated" warned Segerstrale, with complex deployment models and operational fragmentation topping the list, he continued "only half of operators want multiplayer games". Until a scalable framework for developing and deploying multiplayer mobile games is established, it's unlikely this will change.

Segerstrale went on to suggest some measures to accelerate the mobile multiplayer market, including flat-rate data charges to eliminate customer uncertainty on cost, a flexible game concept that could be implemented once and rolled out across operator networks, and raising the bar on overall creativity.

Regardless of the complex challenges highlighted, Segerstrale remains optimistic about potential growth in mobile multiplayer. "The market is growing, there are lots of good case studies that are working", it's just a matter of understanding and resolving the issues and showing consumers what is actually possible, he concluded.

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