mmO2 launches Java gaming


Network operator mmO2 has announced that it will introduce a Java gaming service in the UK from the beginning of September.

Customers will be able to download a wide range of colour and greyscale games to handsets such as the Siemens M50, Nokia 3410 and 7650. The games have been sourced from developers such as Motorola, THQ, Digital Bridges and Picofun. Titles include Asteroids, Pong, Men in Black II, Racing Fever and Pinball. The service will be available to all customers, both post- and pre-pay, and will be free of charge during September, excluding airtime download costs. After September, each game will be charged at GBP 1.50 and will be valid for around 30 days of gameplay. mmO2 will launch the services across its other European territories in October.

Tim Raby, head of games for O2, said: “Our research highlights that customers are looking for better ‘playability’, a greater challenge, enhanced colour graphics and a ‘console-like’ feel to games on their mobile – all of which the O2 games arcade will deliver. We have selected games that are ideally suited to mobile – that look good on screen and take only minutes to download. To ensure variety, we will be adding around three games per month to our portfolio to ensure that our gamers never get bored.” Kent Thexton, chief marketing and data officer, mmO2, added: “This is another example of how compelling devices and applications are coming together to make mobile data a reality today. We believe that the O2 games arcade and multimedia messaging, which we will launch shortly, are highly desirable mobile data applications that our customers will embrace.”

Insight

This represents a commendable attempt to fuel demand for advanced mobile gaming. The pricing principles described in Marek Pawlowski’s article ‘Multimedia Messaging’ also apply to mobile Java downloads. Much better to offer a completely free trial service for a limited period and then introduce a flat fee than to try to bill the user based on download size or some other equally arcane metric. It will be interesting to see how many games are sold at the GBP 1.50 pricepoint.

There are, however, two critcisms to make of this service. Firstly, the games only remain valid for thirty days. If you’re going to adopt a pay-per-download model, you can’t stop halfway and introduce a time limit. Users will resent having to pay more than once to continue playing a game. It would be better to sell additional levels or sequel games, helping to build a community around certain titles, than to charge based on time limits. Also, according to Source O2’s previous announcement on its use of the Fuel platform, third party Java developers will be unable to take advantage of the streamlined procedures for submitting new applications to the O2 network. Surely this should make the addition of Java and MMS capabilities even more of a priority for O2?


Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.
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