Mobile gaming is seen as huge source of potential revenue – afterall, there isn’t exactly a shortage of mobile phones or casual gamers out there – but so far few companies have really been able to capitalise on it. Not that they aren’t having a go though; the latest to show an interest is AOL. The Time Warner owned media company is currently gearing up to launch a free, ad-supported mobile gaming portal.
Well, I say AOL is, actually, it has just used it sizeable bank roll to buy two companies that will do all the legwork for it. The first was Third Screen Media, which will be dealing with arranging banner ads to bring in the dosh, and allow you to play for free, and the recently acquired Cellufun will be offering its mobile games for your enjoyment.
Social networking is playing a key role in this. Casual gaming is all well and good, but combine it with a social networking group and you have the recipe for instant viral success. Well, as long as the games are actually any good.
Cellufun’s catalogue is already pretty extensive and some titles have won themselves some awards. One of the more intriguing social gaming titles is ‘Call of the Pharoah’, which appears to be fun way of running a pyramid scheme, but without all the pesky business of duping people out of real money.
Then there’s ‘Mobile Ring’ which is basically a boxing game featuring current US political candidates. It’s so zeitgeisty. It’s USP is that fact that player scores and the real life performance of said candidates actually affects their in-game performance. Clever, eh?
I’m deeply sceptical about mobile phone games at the best of times, but this could yield some interesting results. Cellufun has the chance to come up with some very interesting ideas with its new financial backing, and rapidly evolving mobile phone technology can’t hurt either. It isn’t clear whether AOL plans to roll out the same ad-supported scheme outside the US yet, but will the hype around mobile gaming, social gaming networks like those on Facebook and ad-supported gaming, someone is going to jump in sooner or later.