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SEGA signs new partnership with iFone

Sonic and friends spearhead European mobile market assault

SEGA Europe has announced a new partnership with mobile content distributor iFone, initially releasing eight classic titles for mobile customers throughout Europe.

The new agreement marks the continued determination of SEGA Europe to control the European mobile market, and is in addition to the existing mobile games content available through various European i-mode services (including the recently launched UK i-mode from O2).

iFone specialises in the development, distribution and publishing of mobile content, with a network that covers over 50 countries, 100 network operators and a host of entertainment portals, retail channels and handset manufacturers. The company has existing licensing partnerships with companies including Atari, Sony Psygnosis and Hasbro.

The new deal with SEGA is viewed as much more significant, and certainly has long-term benefits according to iFone. Speaking exclusively to, Enda Carey, marketing director at iFone stated: "The agreement with SEGA is seen much more as a partnership than a traditional licensing deal, and we're definitely looking long term on this."

"SEGA already has long standing relationships with NTT DoCoMo in Japan, so it was a simple process to extend its i-mode content to other territories. The iFone deal is a long-term partnership with SEGA Europe, dealing exclusively with Java handsets. We're looking at tying titles in with console releases, and various cross promotional activities with SEGA Europe's online club, SEGA City," he added.

Alan Pritchard, UK managing director of SEGA commented: "We have a huge catalogue of timeless IPs that are recognised throughout the world and we are delighted to be working closely with industry leaders, iFone to publish these titles for the mobile market. We are continually looking at ways to broaden their mass market fan base and what better way than to bring household brands like Sonic to so many mobile users."

The iFone deal will see the release of eight titles, the first being Super Monkey Ball Mini-Golf, which will be available for download in December. Legendary gaming icon Sonic The Hedgehog will also be making an appearance, as will Virtua Tennis and SEGA Rally.

As far as additional titles planned as part of the agreement, Carey talked about the company's determination to provide connected gaming, with titles like Dreamcast classic Chu Chu Rocket, Virtua Fighter and SEGA Rally. High score tables and player statistics were also suggested for the forthcoming World Championship Snooker title, so, according to Carey, community gaming is very much a part of the deal.

In addition to the games themselves, iFone intends to promote the titles and provide various carrier value options through exclusive wallpapers, screensavers and additional themed content. A quiz-based adaptation of Football Manager is also planned, which Carey alluded to as a means of "whetting gamers appetites" in preparation for a possible mobile version of the acclaimed management sim, on more advanced mobile devices in the future.

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