Club Class: Mobile Gaming Goes Multi-Player
With the mobile gaming market expected to almost double in size in the next four years, New Media Knowledge caught up with one of the industry’s leading protagonists to talk about multi-player gaming and advertising developments in the mobile space.
The mobile games market is predicted to generate an extra €1 billion by 2013, making it worth some €2.6 billion, according to media watcher Screen Digest. Mobile games developer SANCO launched its multi-player game Mobile Club Manager last summer for the Euro 2008 football tournament.
NMK met up with SANCO’s head of gaming, Shahid Mohamed, and the company’s head of design, Emdad Rashid, to hear about the how Mobile Club Manager is pioneering mobile multi-player gaming and the potential for advertising over the platform.
When did SANCO launch Mobile Club Manager?
Following its successful trial during Euro 2008 a number of improvements were made to the software and a full launch of Mobile Club Manager took place in August 2008 in time for the start of the [English] Premiership season. As a full football simulation game, Mobile Club Manager mirrors the 38-game Premiership season, which runs from August to May, with each ‘manager’ aiming for their team to become ‘Mobile Club Manager League Champions’.
Both the mobile gaming and fantasy football markets are huge and have seen dramatic growth in recent seasons. Mobile Club Manager takes involvement to a new and exciting level, by enabling users to get fully involved in all aspects of football management across the whole season, with all information sent wirelessly via WAP/GPRS to the Mobile Club Manager website. These can include choosing and training your team, responsibility for tactics, strategy and even transfer dealing.
Is this the first mobile multi-player game?
Yes. Mobile Club Manager is the first full football management simulation game for Java-enabled mobile phones. It’s simple to join and simple to play and as the first ‘ever present’ massively multiplayer game users can compete against real people rather than play against a machine.
Is this just an extension of the networked games that one can already play via PC and games console over the Web?
No. Based on proprietary ‘Parallel Worlds’ technology, Mobile Club Manager is uniquely designed ‘from the ground up’ using mobile technology. As a result it does not suffer the connectivity or mobility limitations of PC games ported over the mobile phone.
What's the unique selling point - just mobility? The graphics and the playability can't be equal to PC/console.
The fact that Mobile Club Manager has been designed specifically for mobile handsets offers a number of user benefits. During each match, for example, users can choose to receive premium SMS messages, priced at 25p per update. This provides real-time information on the game as it progresses, including goals, substitutions and bookings. In addition, training games enable ‘managers’ to improve key aspects of player and team performance.
Mobile users often have concerns over the data charges which can be incurred whilst connecting their devices to the Internet. By contrast, our proprietary Parallel Worlds platform includes a unique routing technology which minimises the connectivity required between the user’s mobile and the server. And, as all of the game time is conducted offline, data charges are drastically reduced.
Unlike other multi-player games, it is not necessary for individual ‘managers’ to stay connected in order for their role in the game world. And, as they are no longer tied to their PC or console, Mobile Club Manager for the first time provides a fully mobile football management gaming experience.
Do mobile platforms lend themselves better to 'strategic' games rather than real-time shoot 'em ups etc?
Yes. SANCO’s Parallel Worlds software for example provides a uniquely flexible platform which enables Mobile Club Manager users to closely mirror their real world counterparts by keeping involved in all aspects of football management throughout the whole season
Is there a social media element to Mobile Club Manager?
Yes. With the addition of the ‘Friendlies’ option, just launched, users – or ‘managers’ - no longer have to wait for the weekend matches or occasional mid-week games but can also now play their mates in one-off friendlies at any time they like. This new element of competition and personal rivalry adds an exciting new dimension to Mobile Club Manager and we expect it to represent up to 50 per cent of players’ involvement very quickly.
Another development we are currently working on is to provide the opportunity for users to communicate with each other via the Mobile Club Manager website to discuss tactics and other developments in the game – again, just as in the real world of football management.
Is there scope for mobile marketing/ads on Mobile Club Manager?
Most certainly. Mobile Club Manager was designed with advertisement in mind and provides possibilities not found on any other mobile game. This is because, firstly, the game is played real time and over the course of a real football season, allowing for ads to be time-, day- and even season-specific. Secondly, and probably the most interesting, is that when customers register we acquire key marketing info which allows us to profile our customers and send them targeted ads.
Also, unlike normal mobile games which have ads that only sit within the game on the phone, Mobile Club Manager has three different mediums for advertisement opportunities:
- * On the handset: There are in-game ads, such as the ones that appear on the ad boards within the various training games. Also there are the targeted ads that are loaded when the player is uploading/downloading data. These are ads that get pushed to the user whilst watching the loading screens;
- * SMS: As Mobile Club Manager incorporates SMS updates as a fundamental part of the game, targeted ads can be placed at the end of the SMS update;
- * The website: Mobile Club Manager has a dedicated website which is integral to the game play. Each user also has their own unique page for their team.
How do you see the mobile games market just now?
The mobile space is crying out to be exploited to its true potential. Apple is opening the door, but it's down to young fresh thinkers that can really put a stamp on the market and lead the way at a time when it is still finding its feet and been given too many ‘hand-me-downs’. In short, it’s time for mobile gaming to get a real identity of its own, rather than being forced to be mini versions of everything else.