Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

Mobile Games: Analyzing the Needs and Values of the Consumers

Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

Mobile Games: Analyzing the Needs and Values of the Consumers

Article excerpt


Mobile games are one of the largest mobile application areas and one where users are often willing to pay for services. Furthermore, the market for mobile games is expected to grow dramatically as most phones sold now are capable of running games. Despite this, there is surprisingly little research concerning user expectations from mobile games. In this exploratory study, we examine the consumers' values, needs, and objectives related to mobile games. Based on earlier literature on mobile services, we developed a preliminary set of issues and did an exploratory survey of mobile game users to find the key needs and values of mobile gamers.

The results of the study are especially interesting for mobile game developers and mobile phone operators, as they shed light on the demographics and choices of mobile gamers. We argue that if mobile games are ever to be diffused in greater extent to the market, then a deeper understanding of the values and needs of the potential mobile game users must be obtained. This understanding can then be used to guide the development of new game offerings.

Keywords: mobile games, values, objectives, consumers, principal component analysis, cluster analysis


During the last two decades, mobile phones have diffused all over the planet, and the core services provided by the telecom operators (e.g., voice and text messaging) have become commodities. Markets for commodities are typically efficient and quickly respond to changes in supply and demand, driving down prices and making the basis of competition on price. Therefore, in order to remain competitive, many mobile operators have sought cost efficiencies through economies of scale. This has led to a high level of consolidation in the mobile phone operator market. To deviate from competition, companies usually explore ways to provide value-added services for their customers. Operators have considered mobile games1 as a good value-added service for a long time. According to several market research firms (e.g., Juniper, Gartner) the Asian mobile gaming market is growing very fast and the total number of mobile gamers is estimated at 400 million people. The value of the global mobile games market is expected to rise from $5.4 billion in 2008 to more than $10 billion in 2013 (RCR 2008). It is notable that these estimates are based only on OTA downloads through cellular networks.

The logic behind these bold estimates is the expansion in the smart phone markets. The shipments of smart phones have grown rapidly during the last few years. According to (2008), 35.5 million smart phone devices were sold in the fourth quarter of 2007, displaying growth rates of over 50 percent during the last two years. The growth of the smart phone market creates a more fruitful basis for the diffusion of mobile games as the games played on smart phones are more sophisticated and more interesting. The recent introduction of Apple AppStore, together with iPhone3G, highlights the importance of games, as almost a third of available titles are games-over 1,700 games as of January 2009 (Rybicki 2009).

Previous research on mobile games has dealt with the new possibilities of mobility, e.g., location-based games (Han et al. 2005) and support for combining dimensions of the physical world and our social surroundings into games (Peltola and Karsten 2006). Most mobile game research to date has dealt with technical aspects of the games (see, e.g., Bell et al. 2006; Fritsch et al. 2006). In addition, there is some emerging research into the business models of the software companies producing mobile games (Rajala et al. 2007).

Despite the potential of mobile games for different stakeholders, the extant literature provides little empirical research on the actual consumer values regarding mobile games (Anckar and D'Incau 2002; Barnes 2002; MGAIN 2003). Therefore, in this paper, our objective is to explore the values, needs, and objectives related to the purchasing process of mobile games. …

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