On Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 8:30 in the morning, a super secret E3 panel was held on The Future of Mobile and Portable Gaming. Spearheaded by Lewis Ward, Gaming Research Manager for IDC in conjunction with Bertrand Schmidt, CEO of App Annie the panel featured representatives from several key mobile contributors. On the panel: David Zemke, Director of Mobile Business, Sega of America, Sarah Thompson, Sr. Manager of Playstation Mobile, SCEA, Bill Rehbock, GM, Mobile Games & TegraZone, NVIDIA, Chris Early, VP of Digital Publishing, Ubisoft and Kelly Malone, Business Development Director, Windows Phone.panel

For those yet to take the mobile and portable platforms seriously, these numbers indicate that you are a minority. In 2012 there are reportedly 800 million mobile/portable gaming devices and by 2014 that number will grow to 1.2 billion (Dr. Evil pinky to my mouth). On top of that, in-app purchases now account for the majority of dollars spent on gaming. This indicates that the Freemium business model has as expected become dominant in the portable gaming sector. While RPGs are currently doing well (particularly with iOS devices and gaming-optimized handhelds) in producing profits there are still opportunities for growth in emerging markets.iostop5

Much of the responses where echoed by other members of the panel so if it appears that Sarah did all the talking its because she was primarily chosen to respond first. The following is paraphrased (poorly in some cases) but accurate.googletop5

When asked what we can expect in the future, these were some the responses:

Sarah Thompson, Sr. Manager of Playstation Mobile, SCEA
More convergence, seamless experiences between devices, Remote Play between PS4 and PS Vita and cloud based gaming allowing users to transcend the usual gaming experience.

David Zemke, Director of Mobile Business, Sega of America
Same games on multiple devices, the ability to pick-up right where you left off.

Kelly Malone, Business Development Director, Windows Phone (Original Halo tester)
Kelly shared many of the same sentiments but also emphasized personalization

Chris Early, VP of Digital Publishing, Ubisoft (formerly employed by Sony and Microsoft)
Still focused on standalone games but also inter-related experiences on separate devices.

When asked what they were most excited about, these were some responses:

Sarah Thompson, Sr. Manager of Playstation Mobile, SCEA
Third-party and indie developers, quirky and innovative titles that give small developers a chance to enter the industry.

David Zemke, Director of Mobile Business, Sega of America
Most excited about putting games into the hands of people that wouldn’t usually play.

Kelly Malone, Business Development Director, Windows Phone (Original Halo tester)
Expanding markets into no-cost and low-cost devices.

Chris Early, VP of Digital Publishing, Ubisoft (formerly employed by Sony and Microsoft)
Excited about games transcending devices and integrating the cloud.

Bill Rehbock, GM, Mobile Games & TegraZone, NVIDIA
Bill pointed out that past issues with cloud gaming in relation to latency quality of service were due to bandwidth limitations. After that came monitoring power usage to satisfy the increased use of bandwidth. Today and moving forward those are issues of the past. We can now access a title powered by the Unreal engine via a browser in one click.

When asked about the threat that digital sales pose to brick and mortar establishments, these were some responses:

Sarah Thompson, Sr. Manager of Playstation Mobile, SCEA
60% of Vita software sales are digital. In the future we can expect 3D printing to play a larger role of the brick and mortar model. Skylanders is a prime example of the fact that people will always want physical goods.

Bill Rehbock, GM, Mobile Games & TegraZone, NVIDIA
The appeal of being entirely digital or cloud based for that matter is that gamers prefer not having to change a disc or cartridge. We’ve arrived at a time where this is entirely possible.

When asked what about the industry may cause them to lose sleep, theses were some responses:

Sarah Thompson, Sr. Manager of Playstation Mobile, SCEA
Fragmentation is still an issue in mobile gaming. iOS paved the way in its model of direct updates across a family of devices followed by Android but there is still work to be done. Subscriptions are also yet to be fully utilized.

Kelly Malone, Business Development Director, Windows Phone (Original Halo tester)
The physical should enhance the experience but not be a requirement.

David Zemke, Director of Mobile Business, Sega of America
Cost of user acquisition squeezing out the smaller developers is a concern.

Chris Early, VP of Digital Publishing, Ubisoft (formerly employed by Sony and Microsoft)
Cost of user acquisition.

Bill Rehbock, GM, Mobile Games & TegraZone, NVIDIA
The market of discoverability is a concern. Not too sure about the reliability of social media when you factor in user bias. Bill stressed the importance of written reviews from responsible media outlets.revenue