A fledgling games technology company is planning to turn the mobile phone into a handheld console - and games will be ready to play next spring.
Infusio will next week make its ExEn games code available to software houses and mobile phone companies, for them to build new phones capable of downloading 256-colour video games.
The company operates from France and Asia, and is currently finalising its second round of venture capital funding with two European institutional investors. The firm has an established Wap gaming business in France through France Telecom and recently claimed its 500,000th game played.
However, the limitations of Wap mean that its offerings to date have largely been trivia-style text-based games rather than the arcade-style blockbusters played on handheld consoles such as Nintendo's Gameboy.
Giles Corbett, managing director at InFusio, told vnunet.com: "Wap is good at accessing databases and retrieving information, which makes it good for adventure games but poor for animated action games. With our ExEn games engine you can turn your mobile phone into a handheld games console by downloading games onto your mobile phone."
The games are downloaded from the company's server into the flash memory of the phone and are typically between 10Kb to 40Kb in size - enough to store 5 to 100 games depending on the model of phone used. Games will be priced at between two euros and 10 euros (£1.50 to £7.50).
"People who say users will have to wait for third generation mobile phone systems to play action games on their mobiles, are missing the point. All our games can be played on bog standard phones," he said.
The company generates revenue through downloads, by receiving a cut of the phone call charges from the network operators, and from in-game product placement. Co-marketing plans are being lined up for next year with network operators. Corbett said an IPO on either the Easdaq or Nasdaq US exchanges was in the firm's plans for 2002 depending on market conditions.
Corbett says the company has three European mobile phone networks and four phone manufacturers signed up to offer phones and services suitable for its games. As well as the firm's own developers, SCi (UK) Kaolink (France), Masa (France) and Toysoft (Korea) have acquired developer kits to produce games for the ExEn engine.
Some 20 games are scheduled to be ready by the time ExEn-enabled phones go on sale next spring, with another 80 touted to be available by the end of the year.
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