Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thinking About 2006 E3 Panel Discussions on Gaming for Mobile Phones and High Speed Broadband Networks

In 2006, I wrote an article for the June 2006 Main Street News that was released in May 2006 shortly after the 2006 Los Angeles Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in which I predicted (based on my own observations, listening to KenRadio, and speculation on various blogs) the advent of the iPhone with its various features, and how mobile devices would become extremely important within the urban environment. I wrote:

"The advent of mobile mapping and location specific technology will become an effective way of marketing destinations within commercial districts, with the ultimate goal of spending time and money in Main Street communities. The future will provide for a WiFi-enabled smart phone that provides voice, video, broadband Internet, multi-megapixal camera, GPS and streaming music with applications for local search, mobile mapping and podcasting. In effect, it would be an all-in-one Swiss army knife device for Main Street visitors and tourists, a virtual guidebook and survival kit that fits in the palm of your hand."

The iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs in January 2007 and released in June 2007. In my Main Street June 2006 article, I also turned my attention to the direction of mobile gaming on "smartphones." Wandering the exhibit halls of E3 and having conversations with several of those preparing games for mobile phone and even mobile phone manufacturers at E3 2006, I wrote the following:

"At the 2006 E3 in Los Angeles, it became apparent that companies were developing mobile gaming devices that will employ wifi technology in branded mobile phones or handheld devices. Any such device in mobile phones could use locational awareness."

What was also interesting at the time of E3 2006 was the state of mobile phone gaming as discussed at two panels on May 11, 2006:

"How Mobile Game Creators are Using High-Speed Networks and High-End Handsets to Make Wireless Games Better" moderated by Julie Ask of Jupiter Research with panelists from Gameloft, Glu Mobile, Artificial Life and Electronic Arts Mobile.

"The Wireless Revolution: Where to Seize Opportunity i the New Mobile Game Marketplace" moderated by Eric Goldberg from Crossover Technologies with panelists from Hands on Mobile, JAMDAT Mobile, Vivendi Universal Games Mobile, and Capcom Mobile & Interactive Media.

Despite the overall theme of highspeed broadband networks, neither of the panels wanted to think about how mobile gaming might evolve with faster networks. Their biggest concern at the time was the difficulties in selling sophisticated games and making money on mobile phones. What they were noticing was the popularity of casual gaming, and what that meant if that was the future of mobile gaming. Here are pictures that I took of these two panels.


Now fast forward to five years later with E3 here for June 7 - 9, 2011, the 3rd of 3 years under its current contract with the LA Convention Center, and think about how game applications for the Apple iPhone and Android smartphones now define mobile gaming.The use of casual games like Farmville and others within Facebook have transformed mobile gaming and created its own marketplace for virtual goods within the context of such games. One thing the 2006 panels got right was the advent of casual gaming with Angry Birds being today's poster child. However, I do not think anyone could have predicted the number of games available from the Apple and Google application stores and the impact it would be having on the game industry during the past year.

Then we have SCVNGR with Google venture capital that is attempting to provide a game layer to the popularity of checkins using GPS technology that became popularized by Four Square (and other early adopters) and now Facebook Places. In some ways, SCVNGR could represent an answer to the question that was asked by Eric Goldberg's E3 panel: "What new gameplay possibilities will come with more pervasive WiFi and WIMAX coverage? Speculating on where the mobile gaming industry will be in 2016 with pervasive and true 4G networks. I can see greater use of location technology, augmented reality, and other uses of the camera beyond QR codes that will create a whole new dimension of gameplay on smartphones.

For those coming to Los Angeles in June 2011, take a look at ExperienceLA and its related smart media for things to do in LA, explore downtown Los Angeles, and be Green by riding Metro to E3 and then using it to see Hollywood and Old Town Pasadena. Best of all, check out the great dining destinations that await you in Los Angeles, and let's hope E3 renews their contract with the LA Convention Center for the years ahead.

No comments: