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MGF panellists question focus on casual gaming

Industry experts look to hardcore audience

During a panel discussion at the Osney Media Mobile Games Forum this afternoon, two speakers questioned whether the industry is taking the wrong approach by focusing on the casual gaming audience.

"Why are we still explaining to each other that casual gaming is the way to go, talking to a target group that is absolutely price sensitive and not loyal at all?" queried Thomas Richter, senior director of content services for Jamba.

"Why are we worrying about those people - who said we have to? Why are we not worrying about gamers if we are a games industry?"

Similar comments were made by the other panellist, Gamespot editor Phil Elliott, who told the audience, "I've never seen a mobile game that's engaged me, that's drawn me in the way a console game can."

Elliott advised mobile publishers to look outside of the casual games market and consider the popularity of other genres, such as RPG, in Asian territories. "It's about creating this emotional achievement and need to play games, and the only people who are going to give you that love back are gamers," he said.

Turning to the subject of the evolving mobile industry, Richter observed that companies are still facing the same problems as two years ago - but that there are still "No real solutions, no revolutions, no new ways of doing business... We still place the same games in the same channels and kind of hope for the best."

According to Elliott, mobile gaming companies could struggle as new competitors enter the market unless solutions can be found quickly. " I hope it's not the case, but I feel that the clock is ticking. How many people have iPods? How many people therefore also have access to iTunes?

"The number is pretty big, and if just 10 per cent of those people start playing games they download to iTunes and then to their iPhone, I wonder how that will compare to the numbers you're currently getting," he continued.

"I'm willing to guarantee that Apple will come in and almost certainly have a much better, more streamlined, more profitable approach in the long run than anything that's been achieved in the last couple of years."

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