It must have been years since I last downloaded a game from the portal of a mobile operator. It's not that I don't like it, but I find it highly addictive and it's difficult to keep myself from spending too much time on it once I am hooked 🙂 Recently, however, I dared to do so again and wanted to find out if the portal has any games that could be played with others over the Internet or even locally with others over Bluetooth.
After all, most mobile phones have Bluetooth built in today and as far as I know, there is a standardised Java API to access it. So it shouldn't be too difficult to use it for games. Even 15 years back, my Nintendo gameboy could do local multiplayer gaming (over a cable) so I kind of expect that from my mobile phone "gaming console", too!
But to my surprise I couldn't find a single game that could be played with others. I am really puzzled!? Is it too difficult or are there other reasons why game companies and / or operators are reluctant to offer them? What do you think?
At a recent games developer conference, Brazil based Tectoy presented their new video gaming console called Zeebo for the next billion. Looking at the specs it's clear that it doesn't want to compete with other current gaming consoles, which have much more processing power. Instead, this gaming console is targeted at emerging markets where people can not afford other consoles and much less to buy high priced games. The interesting twist in this case is that Zeebo has a built in 2G/3G modem to download games so there is no need for establishing physical distribution channels of any kind. I guess that this will help to save a lot of cost.
I can imagine that at some point, the wireless connection might also be opened for other uses such as multiplayer gaming, e-mail, the web, etc. First to be sold in Brazil, Tectoy has brought Claro on board as a network partner and the Wiki article linked above mentions a lot of game companies who will supply games.
The chipset of the box will be supplied by Qualcom, who, according to this article, has invested $5.5 million into Tectoy and BREW will be used as a software platform (only mentioned once in the article, no great details on this, so this has to be investigated a bit further). BREW of course is already known from CDMA based mobile phones in the US so I there are already a lot of developers out there that could easily port their games to the console.
There we go, this is one of the first wireless but non mobile devices with built in 3G connectivity beyond todays mobile and notebook / 3G dongle centric devices for the mass market that I know of. And who knows, maybe a role model for a future wireless game distribution model for high-end game consoles.