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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK
'Simple games' rule mobile charts
Screenshot of iFone's Tetris
Tetris has proved it can stand the test of time
Tetris has ruled mobiles as far as gaming goes over the last 12 months, according to Mobile Games Analyst.

The game catapults iFone straight to the top of the top UK mobile games publisher rankings, according to the performance of its games in the charts.

Tetris was the top game for eight months. Other big-hitters were Namco's Pac-Man and Iomo's Pub Pool.

The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association compiled mobile game data for the first time from 2004.

It produces the official video and computer games charts across all formats weekly.

Elspa collated figures for mobiles, collected from the major mobile operators, for the first time in the 12 months between March 2004 and February 2005.

Games companies can no longer afford to rely on brands alone to achieve sustainable sales
Pamela Clark-Dickson, Mobile Games Analyst
The research showed that consoles games which have been turned into mobile versions may not be what the mobile gamer wants.

I-play (formerly Digital Bridges) FIFA Football and Tiger Woods 2004, and Gameloft's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow performed well, the research found.

But others, such as Wonderphone's Crash Nitro Kart and Sorrent's Driv3r, spent just one month in the chart.

"It's no surprise that accessible, easy-to-play games have considerable appeal for UK mobile users," said Stuart Dredge from Mobile Games Analyst, published by Informa Telecoms and Media.

"However, what's really encouraging is the fact that the Elspa chart has been a mixture of branded and original titles, showing the diversity and creativity that exist within the mobile games market."

Major publishers in the traditional games markets, such as Electronic Arts, have also started to push into mobile gaming more in the last year, setting up dedicated mobile games publishing divisions.

EA recently joined forces with Scottish mobile entertainment firm Digital Bridges to make more of its games available for mobiles.

Casual and quick

The research pointed to the disappointing performance of games version of films, however.

Of the 47 games that charted during over the year, only two film-based titles - I-play's The Fast And The Furious and Jamdat's Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King - made it into the chart, both for one month only.

"The poor performance of movie-related brands and some of the console ports indicates that games companies can no longer afford to rely on brands alone to achieve sustainable sales," said Pamela Clark-Dickson, editor of Mobile Games Analyst.

"Investment in the development of original IP will likely accelerate in the short-to-medium term, particularly with the increased commitment to mobile of video-games publisher Electronic Arts, which has already stated its intention to create original mobile games."

Downloadable mobile games are becoming big business as mobile ownership continues to rise, but also as phones get much more powerful with better graphics and processing technology.

Racing game on a mobile
Console-based titles do not tend to do as well on mobiles
Mobile gaming is expected to explode, with analysts predicting that 220 million will be playing games on mobile phones by 2009.

Analysts say that mobile games appeal more to the "casual gamer", who is looking to play for short periods of time, than to dedicated gamers.

Console titles tend to require more time commitment because of the type of game play they offer.

Major investment has been pumped into mobile gaming recently, a Screen Digest report found earlier in April.

Between 2002 and 2004, mobile game company fund-raising rose from 15.7m (23 million euros) to 125.2m (184 million euros).

Many big games makers see mobile gaming as a way to attract more people into its more serious gaming titles on consoles.

Casual gamers include a large proportion of women, and the games industry is keen to tap into that potential market too.

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