Whatever you call them, cell-phone games are big

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Whatever you call them, cell-phone games are big

Paris Hilton turned up last Thursday at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles to promote her namesake game, “Paris Hilton’s Jewel Jam.” No, it’s not a 3D role-playing game or a simulation in which you try to become a fashion queen. The game isn’t even for a computer or console ― it’s an arcade game for handsets. in which the player must delete colored “jewels.”
Sure, the heiress mistakenly introduced her new game as “Diamond Quest,” and sure, reporters were more interested in her cleavage than in the game itself, but the important thing here is that the video game maker Gameloft decided to create a game for a mobile platform, and as this year’s E3 expo showed, the mobile game industry is heating up.
According to the Korea Game Development Institute, the global mobile game market amounts to $2.2 billion. The agency gives a very rosy forecast of $4.2 billion for next year.
The fact that the mobile game market is growing is certainly not surprising in Korea, where cell phone games long ago went past the arcade phase and moved on to massively multiplayer online games, thanks to handsets that support high-definition graphics and upgraded phone services. At E3 this year, several mobile game developers presented around 50 games solely for mobile platforms.
Unlike the United States or Japan, Korea has a tiny console game market and most of its developers only create online or mobile games. Until now, Korean mobile game developers mostly catered to the domestic market, but now they have a bigger clientele, as the rest of the world discovers the joy of playing with your cell phone.
We’re not just talking about Tetris or Pac-Man (although those arcade games are extremely popular). Gamevil, which launched a branch in Los Angeles last March, presented four new games. In Korea, Gamevil is developing Tom Clancy’s “Splinter Cell ― Pandora Tomorrow.” which will be available for SK Telecom users in June. As one can probably deduce from the title, the first-person shooting game is not a simple clay pigeon-shooting tournament.
In a sense, game makers are “reliving” their early years on a mobile platform. Sega Mobile, for instance, offers its old Sonic the Hedgehog game through selective service operators.
Meanwhile, as mobile games become more advanced, companies are coming up with all sorts of accessories to cater to serious game-players. The XEG is one example: The device is a game pad that can be attached to a mobile phone.
These devices, however, are for more players playing more complicated games that require 3D graphics chips and ample memory. If you’re playing Paris Hilton’s latest game, forget doo-dands and just play by rule of thumb.

by Wohn Dong-hee
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