Gamers, Brands On The Move

Experts predict mobile gaming to explode

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%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%% Mobile video-gaming is going to explode in the next two years, according to experts convened at a Madison + Vine panel discussion about emerging content platforms at last week's Advertising Age AdWatch industry conference in New York.

After 2005, there will be more than 33 million hand-held game devices in the marketplace, predicted Julie Shumaker, director of sales for online and in-game advertising at Electronic Arts, after the panel. EA estimates that 23 mil. handheld units will be in the marketplace by the end of this year

This would include hand-held game systems like the PSP from Sony, coming out early next year, the GameBoy systems from Nintendo, and similar hand-held gaming devices, as well as cellphones. Currently, EA does ad sales for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube titles along with games for PCs.

Cellphones, as an advertising platform, are even further behind hand-held game systems, panelists agreed.

But for now, brands and the gaming industry are still in the infant stages of creating a robust business model for marketing of the two platforms that already have traction with marketers: PC-based and console-based games , said Dave Madden, exec VP-sales, business development and marketing at WildTangent, a leading online game publisher, based in Redmond, Wash.

%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% "The training wheels for those business models are being done online," he said, referring to the ability to measure the gaming audience online. Madden did predict that this type of accountability would "eventually roll over to console devices."

While the arrival of the mobile sector as a potent branding platform may still be a while off, marketers are increasing their efforts in product integration—Shumaker recently closed a deal to integrate Pontiac into EA's NCAA Football 2005 video game—and in branded video games.

For example, WildTangent developed a global, multiplayer online soccer game for Nike. The game, at, is available in 28 countries and 11 languages. Madden said Nike would not release numbers, but it is now in its third year. "Nike is now at the point where they have consumers looking for next year's soccer game," he said. "It's done in a very positive way for consumers where they don't feel they are being marketed to."

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