Neil Young: Mobile is Coming of Age

30 06 2008

A few weeks ago I blogged about Neil Young leaving EA, and today Newsweek have revealed the nature of the company he’s setting up:

I repeat: what the heck is ngmoco?

Young plans to focus on developing and publishing games for iPhone class mobile devices.

That’s it?

No, there’s more. “I want ngmoco to feel like 1st party for the iPhone,” says Young. “I want customers to feel like there’s somebody out there that’s building games, that’s financing games, that’s helping games get made that take advantage of what the device does really well, and gets beyond porting a PSP game or a DS game. Young cites Nintendo as a lodestar for the way the Japanese developer-publisher has built games like Nintendogs, Brain Age and Zelda that show off what the DS is best at. “The iPhone is a unique device, right? It has a camera in it. It will be a 3G phone. It will have GPS. It has a touch screen. It has accelerometers. It’s got good graphics performance. It’s got all your media on there. My instinct is, the type of games that will make people want to buy more iPhones or more devices of that class are the types of things that really showcase the capabilities and bring what we know as game designers together with what Apple has delivered as a platform

Convergent devices are creating rapidly expanding territories for games to move into. The high degree of novelty should lead us to expect widespread experimentation and correspondingly high failure rates. As well as a few new commercial successes, convergence will probably lead to the emergence of some innovations that are driven more by culture than profit.

(CC image by HolgerE)

Phones and Motion

19 06 2008

Sony motion sensing phone

I’ve spoken before about Bruce Sterling citing mobile phones as a “technological black hole”, sucking in a long list of other devices and putting them in our pockets (You can see the talk he raised this in here, about 12m 50s in). Gaming devices are going to be no exception.

We’re a long way off having a phone that can plug into an external display and run games well, but convergence is inevitable. While each new step can easily confuse people at first, the trailing edge catches up until a given form makes sense to people, or fails altogether.

Sony Ericsson’s new motion sensing phone is yet another thing pushing this trend forward, as are the games demoed on the iPhone at Apple’s developer conference last week.

Of course, both of these companies are attempting to capitalise on the popularity of the Wii, but it shows the growing involvement of other sectors with games is spreading beyond the purchase of games companies, and into more deep rooted involvements and collaborations.

Mobile developers have had a difficult time for the past few years, with clunky interfaces, lack of standardisation and weak hardware meaning mobile gaming has been a footnote on the portals of European network operators, earning a pittance in comparison to call charges and ringtones. It’s become a chicken and egg problem, with the lack of attention attracting shovelware while at the same time damning well crafted games.

Better displays, processing power and motion sensing could prove to be the factors that tip mobile gaming into the mainstream. While these phones are nothing on the PSP and DS, they’re certainly surpassing previous generations of handhelds.


1 05 2007

Over at the Guardian, Keith Stuart blogs about a mobile title designed to mitigate culture shock:

Nipan Maniar an academic and games expert at the University of Portsmouth has developed a mobile game deisgned to help international students understand life in Britain. Including such moments of cultural awakening as ‘going to the pub’ and ‘watching people being affectionate to each other in public’, the guide is intended for those who may have spent their formative years in more reserved cultures.

The mobile phone is the perfect delivery method for this sort of edutainment project – almost all international students will have one, while only a minority may be equipped with a DS or PSP.