Nokia has joined Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens' Mobile Group in an effort to develop a wireless gaming standard. The companies have announced the establishment of the Mobile Games Interoperability (MGI) Forum, which is an extension of a similar effort, the Universal Mobile Games Platform (UMGP) initiative, unveiled by Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens in March.
Wireless gaming is going to be an important source of future revenue for operators of 3G (third-generation) mobile networks, according to Bertrand Bidaud, director of research at Gartner in Singapore. Many mobile operators are wary of the high infrastructure costs associated with offering 3G services, and equipment manufacturers have been looking for ways to spur carriers to move forward with their 3G plans. Mobile gaming is one application that can help move operators towards deploying 3G networks, he said.
"Gaming is going to be one of the main revenue generators (for 3G operators) in the short term," Bidaud said.
"This first wave is made up of early adopters who are people with a very specific profile," he said. "For them, technology is about having fun."
Like the UMGP initiative, the MGI Forum is working with software tools developer Metrowerks, a subsidiary of Motorola, to create a set of common APIs (application programming interfaces) and a software development kit (SDK) that will allow developers to produce games that are compatible with wireless networks and handsets from all four companies. The MGI Forum is also looking at ways to provide certification for games based on its standards, the companies said in a statement.
One mobile operator that has been pushing the development of mobile gaming is Tokyo-based NTT DoCoMo, which has partnered with Sony and six other mobile operators to develop mobile gaming services using technology derived from SCEI's PlayStation 2 game console.
DoCoMo, which currently offers several Java-based games to users of its I-mode mobile Internet service, has also entered into an agreement with Sega to look at ways to link I-mode phones with Sega's video arcade game machines.
Microsoft has developed a smart phone platform code-named Stinger, based on its Windows CE 3.0 operating system. Windows CE incorporates many of the same APIs used in desktop versions of the Windows operating system as well as Microsoft's soon-to-be-released Xbox game console. These would likely compete with APIs under development by the MGI Forum.