The mobile games market is a treasure chest, and with 49.9 percent growth in 2007 alone and revenue expected to rise to $6.3 billion in 2011 from $3.9 billion that year, everyone is looking for the map. Like the road to any treasure, however, there are potential pitfalls along the way. And in those pitfalls, Israeli startup Mo’Minis sees an opportunity.
It takes very advanced programming skills to develop even a simple mobile game. Moreover, enabling an application to run on the hundreds of available handset models is an endeavor fraught with technological barriers. The investment of time and resources needed to overcome these pitfalls keeps many individual mobile game developers from ever entering the market.
Help is on the way. Mo’Minis, which was launched back in January 2008 and has raised $400,000 in funding from a private group of investors, plans to offer a free end-to-end solution for both skilled and amateur game developers. The Mo’Minis Studio will include a graphical user interface for programming, allowing even non-programmers to create games from scratch. Once a game is ready, the Mo’Minis Studio will then port it to fit a wide range of handsets in real time — it will even have the option of being “packaged” with relevant characteristics (such as ads or language of the user interface) particular to the distribution channel and/or advertiser. The Mo’Minis Studio is still in stealth mode but according to co-founder Aviv Revach, is due to be available in the first quarter of 2009, together with an online community for game developers where they can co-develop games and receive support from Mo’Minis.
Mo’Minis is not the only company that’s recognized the opportunity to support mobile game developers. Playyoo and Frengo offer tools for customizing mobile games, changing levels or adding custom pictures, and Giant Steps and Base77 are among the companies offering outsourced porting services.
But the services that Mo’Minis plans to provide game developers range from development, through porting, all the way to distribution (which may be both on-portal and off-portal), a significantly more ambitious undertaking. And the Mo’Minis Studio will be offered for free to encourage the creation of a substantial amount of new mobile games; Mo’Minis plans to make its profits out of a percentage from the games’ distribution, whether if the game will be sold or will be supported by advertising.
Will this business model prove to be profitable? That remains to be seen, but successfully delivering such end-to-end solution would be a meaningful contribution to the entire mobile games ecosystem, one that could both make it easier for game developers to get their work to the mass market and result in a wider offering of mobile games overall.