Wireless gaming is poised to become the most lucrative and prevalent wireless data application, industry experts have predicted.
According to the latest research from IDC, gaming will overtake ring-tones in 2005 as the biggest US wireless money spinner and generate sales of nearly $1.5bn annually by 2008.
Moreover, community-oriented subscription game revenue will grow from a "distinct minority of total revenues to market dominance" by the end of 2008.
The analyst firm noted that the key trend in wireless gaming is the shift away from single-player, device-only gameplay towards virtual community-oriented gaming.
While technically difficult from the network, content provider and device perspectives, operators will need to satisfy a fast growing demand for head-to-head play among users.
Supporting these users requires enhanced features such as player-to-player text communication, player profiles, game information, player matching features and leader boards, according to IDC.
"A data point illustrating this trend is that InfoSpace Mobile and Blue Lava Wireless recently hosted what was billed as the largest domestic cross-carrier mobile phone gaming tournament ever held," said Schelley Olhava, a programme manager for consumer markets at IDC.
"Tetris Tournament Mobile Championship competitors played more than a million games in September and October for a chance to win $10,000 in prizes. The grand champion reportedly played 2,300 games."
In order for this market to take off, carriers, handset manufacturers, game developers, aggregators and others must work together more closely to maximise revenues and accelerate market penetration, according to the IDC study.
The analyst warned that, given the interdependence of the market participants, a company that refuses to collaborate is unlikely to succeed in this environment.
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