Once a free distraction included on the handset, mobile gaming has ballooned into a multibillion-dollar industry. One report has the market hitting $4.5 billion this year, but Nokia said it expects the economic problems to hurt the market this year, and for those woes to continue into 2009.
"We expect challenging times to continue. The overall gaming market is likely not growing," said Jaakko Kaidesoja, Nokia's head of gaming operations, in an interview with Reuters.
But Kaidesoja did say he expects certain segments of the mobile gaming market to grow. He singled out preloaded games, emerging markets, and his company's N-Gage gaming platform.
For Nokia, mobile games represent one branch of the larger strategy to branch out beyond just making cell phones. Nokia wants to be able to offer additional services and applications like multimedia, navigation, and games in order to attract new customers as well as create new revenue streams.
N-Gage was originally a standalone gaming device, but Nokia relaunched it as a mobile gaming platform for its smartphones. The platform has been growing steadily, and Kaidesoja said there are more than 20 million N-Gage capable phones.
Kaidesoja also said he expects the iPhone to be a successful gaming platform. Apple's handset is an attractive device for game developers because it packs a robust processor, motion controls, touch screen, and graphics capabilities. Video games are routinely at the top of the download lists for Apple's App Store.