Over the past few years, the mobile game industry has started from virtually nothing to become one of the most dynamic segments of the market. The big companies speculated the need for mobile entertainment and came up with plenty of options for the regular users, but are now facing a great threat : the download of pirated content.
Even if there are more and more people playing mobile games, only few of them are downloading new games. A survey released by a well-known magazine issued that even if the number of those that play these games in the subway, in class or at home has quadrupled over the past twelve months, the number of downloads remained constant. An alarming 3.6 percent of the mobile users from the United States paid for a game over the last month. The same survey revealed that approximately 40 percent of the games played are the ones preloaded by the phone producers.
What was thought of being a major step forward for the mobile games producers, smartphones, turned out to be an easy way for the common user to download content without paying. On the other hand, smartphones are technically capable of taking mobile games to another level in graphics, sound or gameplay and generating more profit for the game designers.
At the recent Mobile World Congress held this month in Barcelona, one of the biggest producer on the market came up with a couple of solutions inspired probably by the video game industry. The first one would be implementing a subscription system similar to MMO PC games. Its main disadvantage is that mobile games should evolve to a much more captivating experience, meaning more programmers and more time spent in development with greater costs. The second option would be physical distribution, in stores, along with video games. This isn't yet feasible because of the various card slots available on mobile phones at the moment, even if the infrastructure is already there.
The mobile games producers, along with the whole digital entertainemt industry, seem to be at a turning point, searching ways to put a stop to the spread of illegal downloads and make people pay for their products, even if this would ultimately mean more investments.