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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008, 13:08 GMT
The mobile future blog: day one
All this week BBC News website technology editor Darren Waters is using a mobile phone to cover the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, in text and in video.


I'm talking to a lot of people at the Game Developers' Conference this week about mobile gaming.

Games on your phone have been the "next big thing" for many, many years but the industry has yet to go truly mainstream.

I've just been talking to Michel Guillemot, the head of Gameloft, the world's largest distributor of mobile games, and I'll be writing up his thoughts in a piece on the BBC News website but I thought I'd detail some of the points he made.

Every second two Gameloft titles are downloaded somewhere in the world. Last year the firm grew by 40% and its revenues topped $140m.

But Gameloft's rude health is not reflected in the industry at large: Mr Guillemot told me that 90% of mobile game publishers are losing money.

Yet he's predicting healthy things for the industry, propelled by new hardware, expanding services and a fresh attitude from carriers.

More immersive 3D games, real time multiplayer and touch controlled games are on the horizon.

By 2012 mobile phones will be able to play the kinds of games seen on consoles just two or three years ago, he said.

"The evolution of phones is moving five times quicker than consoles," he said.


The best thing about the Game Developers Conference is that you can bump into the unexpected at any time.

Wandering back from a keynote speech I saw a man playing a 3D racing game on his Nokia N95 and he was controlling the action just by tilting the phone left or right, up or down.

I'd never seen this before - certainly not on a mobile. Mitri Wiberg, from Swedish firm Polarbit, told me that Nokia had included an accelerometer in the N95 but had not given developers access to the feature until very recently.

The accelerometer means that the phone can be used just liked Sony's PlayStation 3 controller, and potentially like the Wiimote for the Nintendo, if used in conjunction with Bluetooth.

Mitri's simple demonstration shows that mobile phones can find a way to bypass the problems inherent with playing games on a handset, namely the small buttons and form factor.

It's also indicative of a wider trend - finding more natural human machine interfaces that make gaming more accessible.

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