Mobile Games in Spain

While 38% of Spain’s 44 million residents have access to the internet via fixed line, Spain also has one of Europe’s largest mobile communications markets in Europe, with current statistics showing 109% penetration.

Couple that with Spain’s love of skill games and their propensity to gamble (again one of the largest gambling markets in Europe, with some 30 billion euros spent on gambling in 2006 according to national statistics) you can see the potential for the games market and in particular the future growth potential in the mobile gaming market.

The majority of Spain’s broadband users could only access around 1mb/s in 2006 and for many the average speed was much less. This is due to the lack of investment and renewal of fixed line technology. Telefonica who own most of the fixed lines and who lease them to service providers like Ya.com or Spantel, have failed to invest in fixed line technology, and the nature of their telephone lines has been the common reason why many have only been able to receive low bandwidth.

Many of Spain’s residents who live outside main towns or cities also fail to receive high speeds (indeed many even fail to obtain adsl at all) as the distance from the central exchange point causes attenuation on lines. Without investment in repeaters or exchange points, residents are now turning to internet access via mobile phones or USB modems as a faster and more reliable way of connecting to search the internet or play games.

Together with Vodafone (one of the three main operators of mobile communications in Spain) and Nortel, recently investing heavily in 3.6 megabit 3G communications technology for Spain, users are now able to access speeds averaging around 2mb/s, faster than the average fixed line bandwidth speeds in other major European countries.

The higher speeds allow greater variation in services, and one of the major services provided to mobile users is online gaming.

Nokia NGage, who recently undertook a survey of mobile gamers in Europe, state that 77% of Spanish subscribes play games on their mobile at least once per week, with some 14% at least once every day.

64% of mobile users in Spain play games on the move, more so than at home which is only 50%. Multiplayer gaming is becoming more popular with 17% currently accessing multi-player games each week and averaging 28 minutes sessions.

Silicon Seeds (an online mobile games site) also claim that Spain is the second biggest market in Europe for downloading mobile games.

Movilenio’s Ludo was the best-selling mobile game for Vodafone Spain in December 2005, and was featured on the Vodafone Live portal for weeks.

Bingo is another multi-player game which is proving popular in Spain, though while growth in registrations in particularly fast, actual cash play is proving much more difficult to accomplish as it seems the Spanish much prefer free-play games. Perhaps this is also due to Spain’s lack of confidence in providing credit card details over the internet or over the air. However, it is not thought to be too long before bingo will be offered over the air to mobile subscribers as e-gaming magazine report recent further development of mobile bingo and casino games from some of the big mobile gaming development companies.

So while countries like the UK and Sweden continue the fastest growth of bandwidth capabilities together with online bingo gaming offerings, the future for online bingo in Spain is certainly more mobile.

Mobile Games – The 10 Most Innovative Titles of 2008

The most innovative mobile games are rarely the best-selling, and technical innovation often comes at the expense of great gameplay. Yet innovation is what drives gaming forward. So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most innovative mobile games that were released in 2008, including iPhone, N-Gage, Java and iPod titles.

1. Reset Generation (Nokia)

Platform: N-Gage

Reset Generation scored a perfect 10 when reviewed on Pocket Gamer. The spin-off Facebook version was one aspect, but it was the wider Web 2.0 aspects around that which truly impressed, with players able to embed their profile in blogs and social networking profiles and view replays of any game played online via a widget.

2. Spore Origins (EA Mobile)

Platform: Java / iPhone

Sensibly opting against trying to cram the entire Spore PC game into mobile form, EA Mobile focused on the relatively simple cell stage of the game. The innovation came with the connectivity in the Java version, allowing players to customise their spore throughout the game, then upload it to EA’s server and fight asynchronous battles against those of other players – complete with a website tracking their stats.

3. Super Boom Boom 2: Space Adventure (Gamevil)

Platform: Java

Super Boom Boom 2 let players purchase virtual ‘G-Points’ which could then be spent on extra levels, items and mini-games. It’s not the only Gamevil game to use this feature in Korea, but in the west it’s a marker of what may be to come in 2009.

4. Rally Master Pro (Fishlabs)

Platform: Java

Rally Master Pro is probably the best looking mobile racing game yet. But its innovation was as much about connectivity and some of the distribution models behind it. For example, publisher Fishlabs seeded the game on various pirate websites, allowing people to download and install it for free in an effort to rapidly build a community of players. That went hand-in-hand with the way players paid to download extra tracks for the game, through a system of credits on the myFishlabs community.

5. Chess with Friends (Newtoy)

Platform: iPhone

Chess with Friends is an important game in showing what’s possible with iPhone (and, indeed, connected mobile games on any platform). Gameplay is entirely asynchronous, so you make your move and then wait for your opponent to make theirs at their leisure – which could take seconds, hours or days. But you can have several games going at once, ensuring there’s likely a move to play whenever you fire up the game.

6. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (THQ Wireless)

Platform: Java / N-Gage

The Force Unleashed makes it into this list for Universomo’s imaginative approach to the controls, based on tracing symbols on the keypad to perform attacks. Not all gamers warmed to the idea, but it’s praiseworthy for seeking a control mechanic that’s not a poor relation to console controls and which fits well with the game’s subject material. In case you’re wondering, yes, the game itself was really good, too.

7. TV Show King Online (Gameloft)

Platform: iPhone

The concept behind TV Show King Online isn’t innovative – it’s essentially PlayStation quiz franchise Buzz!. It’s the connected features that make this so interesting, with the ability to play real-time quizzes over the network, as well as uploading scores.

8. Scene It? (Namco Bandai)

Platform: Java

Here the innovation came in the weekly question packs that players could download to keep their interest up. By September, more than 26 million questions had been downloaded in this way – and since this is the US, the publisher is reaping the rewards of that in longer subscriptions. Namco Bandai launched four new puzzle categories for the game in September, to further freshen up the experience for players.

9. Tap Tap Revenge (Tapulous)

Platform: iPhone

What started as a free music game for jailbroken iPhones has now become the premier iPhone music game brand. The ability to ‘download’ songs from within the game – a clever technical workaround, since Apple doesn’t officially allow it – was one feature. Persuading major labels like EMI to make songs available for the game was another. Plus there’s multiplayer and community features being built around the core game.

10. UEFA Euro 2008 (EA Mobile)

Platform: Java

You could see EA’s licence to make a football game based on the Euro 2008 tournament as an obvious cash-in. Instead, they took the opportunity to enhance the gameplay, introducing skill bars used when players want to shoot, cross, tackle or perform skill moves. The idea was to test a control mechanic that would be more accessible than traditional fiddly button-pressing. It worked well, with some elements making it into the next FIFA game.

Things You Need to Consider When Your Children Play Mobile Games

With the increase in entertainment facilities on mobile devices, including music, video and gaming, it is becoming more common for children to be given mobile devices, either permanently or for a short while to keep them occupied, and usage of these devices can often be unrestricted, unsupervised and unmonitored. With games in particular there are risks you need to consider in order that you can make a more informed decision regarding the online safety of your child.

When you go to the cinema or buy a movie from a shop there is often parental guidance ratings to help you make an informed choice however, whilst it is beginning to emerge, there is still very little found on computer based games and even less so on casual mobile games. With little parental guidance on offer for games you need to thoroughly check the content of an intended application so you can make your own assessment of its suitability, for your child, prior to allowing children to play.

Free casual games in particular, such as those available from mobile vendor application stores, which are often advertising supported should be treated cautiously as the included advertising is often either quite subtle or designed to attract the players attention which means a child could access services that were unexpected and potentially unsafe. Activating a click through service could be a simple action of clicking an icon or, on more recent mobile devices, just touching a specified area of the touch screen.

An increasing number of games, including those found on mobile phones, are being supported by phone dialling advertisements which, when activated, dial a destination number which, again, potentially puts your child into unexpected situations such as direct contact with unknown people.

In-game advertising is big business and helps support the developers and publishers of games – but the developers often have little say, or control, in the advertising materials which appear as a result of including the hooks for the advertisers code – this advertising material can include text phrases, images, sounds and videos and lead to web based links, hidden features, or other actions.The advertising doesn’t just appear at the start of the game either. Interstitial ads can appear between levels of a game whilst leader-boards and ranking tables at the end of a game may also include advertising potential.

To be safe you should check games carefully and seek any developer documentation in order that you can make an informed choice as to the suitability of an application for your child.