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Gamedev for Cellphones

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What do you guys think about the mobile games market? Is there a large healthy audience for this type of product? How is development for various mobile platforms. Is it worth it or too difficult for what you get? Just wanted to know your thoughts about this field and any helpful articles for further readings. Thanks, Karan

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The mobile industry is in an interesting state of affairs. If you are just looking to do this for fun, I'd say there is no easier or faster way that you can see a game from start to finish. If you are looking to do this for profit there can be some hiccups. There is a lot of potential to get your game known but the problem is that the market for mass distribution is closing because operators (TMO, Cingular, etc.) are choosing to accept content from a smaller number of publishers, this means that if you do not have agreements in place already it can be hard. Another way to distribute is to go off-portal, which is basically a different distribution channel that may or may not develop consistent revenue.

The audience is absolutely there, some games can get 40,000 downloads per month. Just remember that there are hundreds of other games out there to compete against.

Telephia is a good place to get some general statistics about the mobile industry, how much is being made, and who the major players are. This is a good article about those details.

M:Metrics is another good site that lists statistics regarding the mobile industry.

Here is a list of websites that focus on thew mobile games industry:
mobileindustry.biz
gamesondeck
Modojo

Development for mobile games can be quite wide considering all of the platforms that can be potentially developed for (J2ME, BREW, Symbian, WindowsMobile, Blackberry, etc.). The most widespread development is on J2ME, for more information go to Sun's Website for details and developer downloads. Also, a lot of good information can be found on the manufacturers websites.

Sadly, a lot of people do not take mobile game development seriously, ignoring the large and hungry market for good, fun games. With phones getting better and faster and more people looking to play, I think more companies should bring good content and start developing for mobiles.

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You are not force to only distribute via a operator, you also can distribute by download (newest models are internet-able) and such. Even more, newest models came with usb-to-cellphone cable (virtually killing operator business).

Anyways it's not as easy to do a game but still is fairly better to compete in comparison with other market (such windows and console). In fact a one-men-army can create a profitable project for cellphone.

At least for Sony and for Nokia is easy to go in, they will give all the tools for free, incluying sdk, emulator, open forum and such.

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As said before, it's very easy to make a nice game to a cellphone.

The problem, in my opinion, is the massive number of devices that your game have to run on. If you want to distribute your game, you'll have to port it to several screen sizes, models, profiles... You'll need a respectably porting list. So, if you are an alone developer or have a small budget, it'll be very hard to achive this, because the devices, generally, don't behave equally. The game must be really tested on the devices, the emulators are not trustable, therefore, you'll need several cellphones for testing.

But, besides that, it is easier to get into this market than the console or pc market, because the quality is not that good yet. You can make a good game without a team with 50 members.

Another point, is that the cellphone market is already full of developers. There is a lot of people writing every kind of game. You'll have to differ from the others making fun and quality games.

Regards,

John.

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