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Mobile Game Development News

Fathammer to pound 2D games into oblivion

Timo Poropudas

Finnish mobile games publisher and developer Fathammer has been able to brake on to the world?s most advanced mobile game market. Fathammer has signed an agreement to deliver ten advanced 3D mobile games for SK Telecom?s new game phones.

The contract also includes Fathammer?s X-Forge Game Development System and Support for selected 3D game developers, who create content for SK Telecom. SK Telecom is South Korea?s leading telecommunications company with extensive plans to release 3D content to wireless devices.

The X-Forge deal is an exception to Fathammer?s policy of not sharing its development environment with the market. Fathammer stopped selling the X-Forge last October even if it had been its main product since founding of the company in 2000.

The policy reversal is a result of last year?s decision to become a mobile game publisher instead of technology developer.

?South Korea is already one of the leading countries in wireless gaming. The new game optimized mobile phones and WIPI platform offer great opportunities for new, unforeseen quality and innovation for wireless 3D content. We are proud to be one of the selected launch partners with SK Telecom. This will strengthen our understanding of Korean gaming market and our position in it,? says Matti Airas, CEO of Fathammer.

Fathammer is delivering ten 3D mobile games for SK Telecom. The first games will come from existing Fathammer portfolio. Later, a growing number of Fathammer games will be developed in Korea, specifically for WIPI platform and devices. WIPI is the mobile standard platform of Korea.

According to Airas, Korea?s mobile game market is valued at EUR 300 and growing. US mobile game market is the same size. What makes Korean market so interesting to game publishers is the fact that every phone owner buys four games a year. Globally only one Java-phone owner out of ten buys one mobile game in a year.

3D passes 2D in 2006

?In mobile games we are in the same position where pc and console games were in the early of mid 1990?s. That?s when graphic accelerators entered to market and made it possible to develop good quality 3D games. After that 2D games virtually disappeared,? Airas said.

According to Airas 3D games are set to pass 2D games already next year.

Airas sees Qualcomm?s new mobile chip with built in support for mobile graphic accelerator speeding the development. At the same time Qualcomm?s BREW environment gains a substantial edge over Java-environment.

Graphics accelerators are need in most phones since their chips do not have enough computing power to run advanced 3D graphics.

Japan?s second largest mobile operator KDDI will be introducing phones will graphic accelerator. Airas sees this a real start for 3D mobile games in Japan.

Business model supports content producers in Korea and in Japan.

?The most important difference from European or US markets is the fact that Korean operators commit themselves on mobile content services. They build up lifestyle portals seriously market mobile games. In addition the content provider gets 90 percent of the amount that consumers pay,? Airas says.

Fathammer is privately owned company and has offices in Helsinki, Finland, and in Seoul, Korea. Last December it got one million euro capital investment form Finnish Sitra. This brings the total amount of venture capital in the company to about EUR 6.5 million.

With the investment, Sitra became the third largest shareholder of Fathammer. Previous investors include 3i, funds managed by Nexit Ventures and a group of individual investors.

Fathammer?s flagship product X-Forge 2 is an industry-leading game development system for creating high quality 3D mobile games. With X-Forge, games can be converted quickly to various platforms, such as PDAs and cell phones. X-Forge is used by leading device manufacturers and publishers such as Nokia, Samsung, Dell, THQ and Sega. Over 20 commercial mobile game titles have already been developed with X-Forge.

Fathammer plans to publish 16 new games this year. The company?s portfolio includes games developed in-house as well as with external developers.

?The demand for mobile games is growing rapidly along with new mobile device launches. Mobile games are often integrated into entertainment brands marketing, and this makes the game development project size even bigger. Fathammer has achieved a good position in international mobile game distribution channels, and we need more game developers to work with in creating games for new and existing brands,? says Matti Airas.

Fathammer is not alone when it believes in the bright future of mobile games. Industry Giant Electronics Arts ER shares the view:

?The world of mobile gaming is about to explode! Better games, richer graphics and deeper communities will take cell phone gaming to entirely new depths with experiences that are as adrenaline charged as console gaming,? said John Batter, VP and General Manager of EA Mobile.

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