Pushing Location Based Games Further — How To Gain End User Suitability
In recent years, mobile gaming has been believed to be the next hype after the great success of the short messaging service in Europe. Especially location based games (LBGs) were said to be the next breakthrough for mobile gaming, as those games exploit the location of the players during the game flow. Although those kinds of mobile games are able to offer a new and exciting experience, not many LBGs have yet entered the market. According to this fact, the authors believe that revenues created from this type of mobile applications only make up a minor part of the whole mobile games market, which is assumed to hit 7 billion € or 10 billion USD in 2009. The reason for the small market share of LBGs is that several additional aspects that have to be considered, adding to the large amount of restrictions already present for conventional mobile games. This makes it even more challenging to successfully market LBGs.
Conventional mobile games suffer from diverse constraints that cushion their success, comprising high device fragmentation, compatibility issues, difficulties of targeted advertising as well as distribution over the network operators’ portals and channels. LBGs have the additional requirements for location-sensing or other context-acquisition technology. This might either be provided as a feature by the mobile device itself and/or by the infrastructure, which has to be set up and operated by a service provider. The end user, on the other hand, is often required to use special hardware in order to play those kinds of games, e. g. GPS-equipped mobile phones. Since wireless handsets that are equipped in this manner, are currently not even close to be widespread, their impact on the entertainment business is negligible compared to the conventional mobile game market. As a result, LBGs have yet failed to reach the expectations of market analysts generating high revenues. Recent research in this area has been mainly focused on the development of prototypes.
We think that location based gaming can go much further than its current state. In light of these points, this paper therefore seeks to identify positioning technologies, evaluate LBGs including our approaches SpaceRace and The Journey with respect to the previously identified positioning technologies and highlight those interesting features and design elements that have to be taken into account when designing LBGs for the mass market.
Summarized, the goal of the paper is to determine the best practice of how to utilize location context on mobile phones targeted for the mass market. LBGs do indeed have a very high potential, but this has not yet been either fully realized or utilized by today’s game creators. By lowering the technical-, design- and social barriers for playing LBGs using the identified design elements, they have the potential to be more successful in the future.
KeywordsShort Messaging Service Mass Market Mobile Game Game Concept Phone Device
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