Via Gamasutra, news that a significant number of handset and mobile gaming companies have finally decided to establish an open architecture standard for cell phone games. The initiative’s participants include: Activision, Digital Chocolate, Electronic Arts, Konami, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, SK Telecom, Square Enix, Symbian, and Texas Instruments (among others).
Assuming that the aforementioned companies don’t get into a terminal squabble, this initiative represents a major milestone for the mobile game industry, which has been held back by the complexity of developing even simple games for a very wide variety of platforms, carriers, and operating systems. In today’s environment, it takes ~250 builds to publish just a single game in five languages, worldwide. (I’ve heard numbers as high as 450.) Each build may only cost ~$2,500, but that doesn’t include the costly logistical headaches associated with having so many SKUs.
There are 200M cell phones in the US — over twice the number of PCs, but still just a small fraction of the global cell phone total (China alone boasts 300M mobile subscribers). Global cell phone game revenue predictions vary widely, but many settle in at around $8.5B in 2010. A truly successful open standard could raise that number substantially.