EA, Gameloft say mobile gaming market doing well

BARCELONA/PARIS Wed Dec 3, 2008 1:47pm EST

The G1 phone running Google's Android software is displayed in New York September 23, 2008. REUTERS/Jacob Silberberg

The G1 phone running Google's Android software is displayed in New York September 23, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Jacob Silberberg

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BARCELONA/PARIS (Reuters) - Electronic Arts and Gameloft, the world's two largest mobile gaming firms, said on Wednesday the market was doing well, a day after their next biggest rival, Glu Mobile, warned of soft demand.

Glu Mobile chief executive Greg Ballard said on Tuesday he was cutting both staff and his own salary in response to "increasing economic headwinds facing our industry."

But its rivals said on Wednesday the mobile gaming sector was doing fine.

"Concerning the iPhone, mobiles etc, we are not worried, it's all going well," a Gameloft spokeswoman said, when asked about fourth-quarter demand, but added it was too early to comment on sales of console games.

Barry Cottle, head of EA's mobile business, said increasing adoption of smartphones was a key booster for the market, adding that a fall in handset markets had not hurt the industry.

"Mobile games are actually thriving right now," Cottle said at the 'Nokia World' mobile industry conference in Barcelona.

He told Reuters it was still too early to estimate the possible impact of weakening economies but the company has continued to grow in all regions despite a fall in handset sales in Europe.

HOPE FROM N-GAGE, IPHONE, ANDROID

The mobile games industry expects wider adoption of new platforms like Nokia's N-Gage, Google's Android and Apple's iPhone to boost the market next year as they make it easier for consumers to find and buy games.

Glu Mobile said in its statement it would continue its efforts to develop games for the three platforms despite cost cuts elsewhere.

Nokia launched its N-Gage platform earlier this year, but it is only now starting to gain traction as the company has started to ship new smartphone models with a pre-installed gaming service.

"We like N-Gage. We're bullish on it," Cottle said. "As it gets incorporated the addressable market continues to grow."

"We really believe the N-Gage experience is the right one -- we are going to see mass market adoption," he said.

EA said it has built several games for Google's Android, but so far sells them through third parties.

"As soon as they have a billing system in place we'll launch even more games," Cottle said.

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