17 October 2006

Ericsson's Mobile Java 3D Technology

A focus on cutting-edge Mobile Java 3D technology has made Sony Ericsson a preferred choice among game developers and a leader in mobile gaming.

In June, Sony Ericsson introduced its new Java platform, Java Platform 7 (JP-7), which supports the development of advanced games with high picture resolution and better 3D graphics, and makes it possible to run several applications simultaneously

We spoke to Peter Ahnegård, Content Acquisition Manager, Games & Graphics at Sony Ericsson who says the company has become a leader in Mobile Java 3D technology. “We were involved really early on in the mobile 3D era and we took on the challenge to educate operators and game developers on the technology. Today, the majority of our game developer partners are producing 3D games in addition to their 2D games. For example, Beach Mini Golf 3D and Extreme Air Snowboarding 3D by Digital Chocolate.”

The Preferred Choice
The benefit for game developers using Sony Ericsson’s platform is that they do not have to make changes to every game they produce to fit the various Java handsets on the market. “Our strategy is to base a number of devices on the same Java platform version. Not only does this save developers a tremendous amount of time and money, but it also means operators can spend less time on game verification later on,” says Ahnegård. “Game developers have said they are really happy with this approach, and recently Fishlabs, which is one of our game developer partners, stated that they only need a single binary code to support all our 3D handsets.”
Making games easily accessible to consumers

Sony Ericsson is not only focusing on making it easier for game developers to create games. The company is also making sure playing and accessing games becomes more attractive to consumers. “If people knew how to access mobile games in an easy way, the market would explode,” commented Ahnegård.

The Fun & Download service, which can be accessed through the company’s website and WAP service, is meant to make it easy for consumers to download all kinds of content, from video clips to games. “We now have a very good games offering on the portal and traffic has increased thanks to improved accessibility and promotions. Today, the major part of revenue from Fun & Downloads is games.

Another such service is PlayNow, (www.midlet-review.com/index?content=handset_review/sony_ericsson_w550i) which can be accessed through the menu option on phones. A service that is updated on a regular basis. “Sales have increased dramatically with new users accessing PlayNow and we’ll continue to develop the service in the year ahead by adding new functionality and improving the user interface,” commented Ahnegård.

Sony Ericsson has also been making mobile phones more attractive to gamers. The W550 and W600 Walkman phones, launched in 2005, and the K790 and K800 Cyber-shot phones, launched in 2006, are examples of this. These devices are very entertainment-focused and appropriate for games because they have two additional A and B gaming buttons on top of the screen and a screen display that can be rotated 90 degrees to support two-handed game control in landscape mode. This creates a PC or console-like game experience familiar to more-experienced gamers.

Sony Ericsson intends to continue developing new devices with gaming features, for example, the P990 smartphone, the M600 messaging device, and the W950 Walkman devices that will take mobile gaming into the future. According to Ahnegård: “Our UIQ 3 phones not only have hardware-accelerated 3D, they also provide better graphics than first-generation consoles.”

More Generic Games
In an effort to encourage people to play more games, Sony Ericsson is pre-installing games on all their devices. “Our job is to make sure operators have a solid and extensive offering for each device we introduce to the market,” comments Ahnegård.

Sony Ericsson has opted for a general selection of pre-installed games to attract a wide audience of gamers. “We are getting better at selecting pre-loaded content that suits the intended target audience, which means we are not only offering 3D action games. With our game developers, we are constantly discussing what types of games we and the operators need,” remarked Ahnegård.

The Future
Sony Ericsson is focusing on improving the gaming platform for the next generation of mobile phones. The company is looking for the best hardware and platform solutions to be able to help developers create exciting, high-quality games targeting different consumer segments.

Sony Ericsson’s efforts in establishing itself as a leader within mobile music is also having an effect on the type of mobile games the company will be offering in the future. Sounds is a lot more than just music. For Java ME and UIQ applications, it can mean everything from sound effects that make games rock to easy-listening instructions for applications such as language courses.

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