Operator data charges and distribution have been something of an obstacle to the mobile games industry, and some players are now eying sideloading as a way around it, says Mobile Entertainment. EA Mobile CEO John Riccitello said in November that sideloading would provide the next growth spurt for mobile games, while Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) (continually delayed) N-Gage service will make heavy use of it as well. Sideloading does offer some benefits to consumers, such as having a backup of installation files on PC, and allowing them to avoid operator data charges, but support for it isn’t unanimous.
Critics contend that transferring games from a PC to a handset remains difficult for many users, and cuts mobile operators out of the value chain. But this shouldn’t be an either/or proposition: a diversity of distribution models should be beneficial to the industry, rather than forcing customers to choose one method or the other. The ability to buy games and have them delivered over the air is an important one for mobile gaming, but it shouldn’t be the only model. If a user wants to browse and buy via PC, then sideload, they should be given that option as well.