RealTime IT News

Sega Makes a Wireless Gaming Play

Hoping that American early adopters will be as nuts about mobile gaming as they are in Japan, Sega.com Inc. is launching a new mobile division aimed at bringing Sega gaming to cellular phone and PDA users in North America.

Sega said that in Japan, the company already has more than 2.5 million subscribers to wireless games and other entertainment related content. The new San Francisco-based unit will be called simply Sega Mobile.

"It's no surprise that Sega is bringing their wireless expertise to the U.S. market," Gartner G2 analyst P.J. McNealy told InternetNews.com."They have been successful in Japan, and the U.S. market is getting more sophisticated for wireless communications and entertainment. This announcement is also the second one we've seen from a service provider in the past two months as RealNetworks has also launched its wireless services initiative."

RealNetworks recently launched its new RealSystem Mobile platform.

Whether playing games using the little screens on mobile phones and PDAs will catch on in America is anyone's guess. So far, Americans seem to have an immunity to the SMS - Short Message Service - that has much of the rest of the world crazy about sending out obscure text messages.

But there are plenty of teens out there who might be interested in games, and that's a gamble that Ryoichi Shiratsuchi, CEO of Sega.com and general manager of Sega Mobile Japan, is willing to take.

"Bringing great Sega content to wireless platforms is another step toward Sega.com's goal of bringing networked gaming to all devices and thereby extending the pastime to mainstream audiences across the world," he said.

Sega cited stats from analysis and consulting company Ovum estimating that the global revenue for wireless gaming will reach $4.4 billion by 2006, up from $124 million in 2001.

Sega Mobile said it plans to launch classic titles such as Pengo, Flicky, Puyo Puyo, and Monaco GP. Beginning this summer, Sega Mobile will bring the established game console title Monkey Ball to wireless devices nationwide.

Wireless gaming apparently has some other companies seeing revenue possibilities, too. Last July, four of the biggest wireless technology players joined forces to define a mobile games interoperability specification for network-based servers.

And just this month AT&T Wireless began touting a networked gaming feature in its new ad campaign for the mMode service for wireless phone users.

Sega already has deals to develop games and game platforms for personal digital assistants on the Palm and PocketPC systems. It also has a deal to develop games for cell phones with Qualcomm.