Gaming industry booming despite economy

October 28, 2008 9:59:14 AM PDT
In today's tough economic times, the key to turning things around will be getting people back to work. More than 100,000 working around the country in the financial sector have lost their jobs and almost as many people in the auto industry have been laid off.

Even though the government, transportation, retail and even technology sectors have all been hit, one area is expanding.

Thanks to a new generation of devices, such as the iPhone and iPod touch, the video game industry is expanding to meet demand for mobile games.

"So that instant gratification is a huge part and what we see as really the future of gaming, the ability to get access to the games immediately," said Apple's iPod marketing director Stan Ng.

1549 mobile games are available to download immediately from Apple. Two hundred million downloads have been logged in less than four months.

This has had a big impact on video game companies, such as San Francisco-based Sega of America.

"Everybody's got a phone in their pocket, everybody in the household. They might have one game console, but every single one of them has their own mobile phones. So, getting our classic Sega games onto those phones is very important to us," said Sega Mobile Production Director Paxton LaZar.

A new report released Monday says more than 44,000 people work in the video game industry, an increase of 12 percent in the past year.

Much of that has been fueled by the growth in mobile games, which is doing a billion dollars in business.

San Francisco gamer David Louie told ABC7, "One of the advantages of mobile games is that you can play on the go, and if you're pressed for time or have only a few minutes to play, you can always pause the game and pick it up later."

This capability is turning mobile games into a mass market.

"For somebody that has not grown up playing these game systems, it can kind of be like learning how to type. But the iPhone, the way in which you interact with the device is just very intuitive. Touching, tilting? it makes sense to people even if they've never played a game before," said Sega Mobile Game Producer Ethan Einhorn.

Game producers are rushing to get new titles released before Christmas.

Sega said it put four months of work into creating a new version of Super Monkeyball to take advantage of the touch-and-motion capabilities of Apple's devices, and mobile devices have made it easier and faster to provide new characters, new mazes and new features to games by downloading them.


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