January 10, 2006, 12:00 AM

Mobile online game sales keep growing

The market for mobile online games, which consumers can purchase and download to their web-enabled cell phone or handheld device, generated U.S. sales of $345 million in 2005, says a new report from eMarketer.

The market for mobile online games, which include puzzles and other interactive games consumers can purchase and download to their web-enabled cell phone or handheld device, generated estimated U.S. sales of $345 million in 2005 and could reach sales of $1.5 billion by 2007, says a new report from eMarketer. “Online gaming is moving beyond the personal computer and the console to reach the screen of the handheld cell phone,” says eMarketer senior analyst James Belcher.

Puzzle games such as Tetris account for nearly half of all free mobile game downloads and over a quarter of all mobile gaming revenues. But U.S. growth has been slowed by various issues, eMarketer says. "Multiple wireless protocols and handset technologies make it difficult to create games which work reliably on all phones," says Belcher. "This is one reason why simple puzzle games are the most popular type in the U.S. so far. These games have low technical requirements and run on a wide variety of phones."

The global market for mobile online games, which generated estimated sales of $2.5 billion in 2005, could reach sales of $11.1 billion by 2010, eMarketer says. The prime audience for mobile games in the U.S. is women and teens. “Women download more puzzle games than men and over one-half of all mobile gamers are teenagers,” Belcher says.

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