Mobile Madness at the Fall Tokyo Game Show
Mobile Madness at the Fall Tokyo Game Show

Mobile Madness at the Fall Tokyo Game Show

Mobile Madness at the Fall Tokyo Game Show

By platform, mobile games (mostly Java, as far as we could see) represented 9.2 percent of the 393 new titles announced at the TGS, a significant if yet modest chunk of the overall game market. This was up steeply from 4.1 percent of 339 titles at the fall 2001 show, but still not equal to the 11.0, 14.7, and 17.1 percent shares seen at the spring 2001 (309 new titles), fall 2000 (334 new titles), and spring 2000 (380 new titles) shows, respectively. We have lots of Java screen savers,” said Taito Corporation at the DoCoMo booth; Seoul-based game maker GameVIL comes ashore to leverage made-in-Korea BREW expertise (KTF’s BREW allows 200KB downloads — the standard for KDDI to beat?); and advice on creating successful Java services from PCCW: “Prepare a good environment for the developers.” Daniel had a splitting headache, but this program rocks!

Comments from Wireless Watch Japan Editor-in-Chief Daniel Scuka:

Are we seeing a recovery in mobile gaming? And is Java playing a role in this? The answer to both questions is most likely “yes.” PCCW for example, was keen to show new games originally rolled out in 1995 but now ported to Java for mobile. They are also talking about exporting their game portfolio overseas, and this is a comment we’ve also heard from G-Mode and others (Cybird is already doing so). Java itself is probably responsible for the resurgence in mobile titles, not in the least because makers can create co-branded Java versions that they co-promote with the console, PC, and arcade versions — in effect allowing the mobile version to serve as an experiential marketing promotion for the other platforms (which are the real money-makers).

Makers can create co-branded Java versions co-promoted with the console, PC, and arcade versions, which in effect allows the mobile version to serve as an experiential marketing promotion for the other platforms — which are the real money-makers.

What really surprised us, though, was the enthusiastic presence of game makers from Korea, who said they are planing to set up shop in Japan as KDDI rolls out BREW-based services (announced for March 2003). The Koreans have a lot of experience with BREW development, and furthermore this has been refined in a highly competitive mobile data environment.

The three Korean carriers — KTF, LG Telecom, and SK Telecom — are much more evenly balanced than in Japan, where 900-lb gorilla DoCoMo rarely gets so much as even annoyed by J-Phone or KDDI. Also, there are five different application download and execution environments in Korea (SK Java, GVM Java, KVM Java, BREW on KTF, and MAP on KTF), making Japan’s three systems look kind of simple by comparison (and in reality the non-DoCoMo Javas are highly similar so there are really only two environments here).

Since few application developers in Japan have any BREW experience, we wonder if KDDI will have a common-sense attack and actually invite a few Korean houses to come out and play in the Japan BREW sandbox when it comes close to roll-out time? Note in last week’s program (“Wireless Java Wins IPO Riches” ) Java developer Net Village, a Qualcomm investee, stated that they are thinking about BREW. Have they — or any other Japanese mobile developers — actually met with anyone from the land of Choson?

We were also surprised to hear game maker GameVIL state that “BREW games play faster than Java games.” While there are probably a lot of factors that affect the user experience, these guys are speaking from practical experience.

Notes on Korea Java downloads:

– BREW games play faster than Java games (says GameVIL) – SKT offers 30 Java games – SK VM: 100-KB downloads (on SK Telecom) – BREW: 200-KB downloads (on KTF) – LG Telecom KVM: 70-KB downloads, about equal to J-Phone