mmO2 has launched the O2 games arcade - the first commercial Java games service in the UK - bringing pictures, colour, sound and an arcade feel to mobile gaming. All O2 games arcade games will be free to UK customers for one month from 1 to 30 September 2002. The service will launch across the other O2 territories (Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands) from October.
A wide selection of games are offered within the O2 games arcade at launch, including Atari classics - Asteroids, Pong and Breakout- plus MarslanderTM, Men in Black IITM, Denkiblocks!TM, OilrigTM, Racing FeverTM, Forbidden JungleTM, Pinball - The CastleTM, TurtlesTM, TowersTM, and PopstarTM. Around three new games a month will be added to the O2 games arcade. The Java-enabled Nokia 3410 is already available and proving very popular with youth audiences. The Siemens M50 will be available from 1 October, and a new range of Java-enabled devices, many of them colour, will be on sale pre-Christmas.
Analysts forecast that gaming on mobiles will be big business, extending the role of the mobile phone beyond communications. Forrester Research predicts that, in three years, 45% of mobile subscribers in Europe will regularly pay to play games on their mobile. Ovum forecasts that global spending on mobile games will total 4.4 billion by 2006. O2's own research highlighted that, when shown games from the O2 games arcade, 65% of mobile owners aged 16-19 expressed a 'strong interest' in downloading them to their mobiles.
To date, the gaming market on mobile devices has been driven by SMS games. This year, more than four million games-related text messages per month have been sent over the O2 UK network driven by The World Cup, Big Brother 3 and 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'.
mmO2 is working with a number of game suppliers and developers, including Motorola, THQ, Digital Bridges, Macrospace, MR. Goodliving, Sumea, Picofun and Ifone to offer brands such as AtariTM and Men in Black IITM. As well as partnering leading branded suppliers, O2 will leverage its online application developer communities - including the 9,000 registered to sourceO2, mmO2's accelerator of mobile services - to create winning games of the future.
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."
The launch of the O2 games arcade is another first for mmO2 in the mobile data arena. It was first to market with innovative mobile data devices including BlackBerry and the xda as well as the 3G live test and evaluation site on the Isle of Man.
The O2 games arcade games are available to all customers on the O2 network (both pre and post paid), provided their Java-enabled mobile is supported by the O2 games arcade. Access to the O2 games arcade varies by device, but has been designed to be intuitive and similar to other such services.