GlobalMedia-Gaming giants differ on mobile, social games

December 1, 2010

kotickMuch of the buzz in gaming these days revolves around two small but fast-growing areas: social games and mobile ones played on smartphones. But two titans of the video game industry have decidedly different takes on those markets.

There are already tens of thousands of game apps available for the iPhone and competing Android smartphones, and tens of millions of people playing free games on Facebook.

Still, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick (pictured) sounded less than enthusiastic about those markets when he spoke to the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York on Tuesday. And that represented a stark contrast from what Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said just a day earlier

Kotick on apps: “We don’t view the App Store as a really big opportunity for dedicated games.”

On tablets: “I think it is a different device than a mobile device, but from a gaming perspective it is probably not a big opportunity for us just yet.”

On social:  “I don’t think there is any question that people are playing Facebook games. The hours speak for themselves. But monetizing those hours is very different than just serving up free games… I think you will see a lot of investment there, continued investment there. But that is different. There is a different question, assessing it as a business opportunity. I think right now we don’t see an opportunity for us to participate in that market.”

Contrast that with the words of Riccitiello, who spent plenty of time in his summit appearance making the case that the future of gaming — the expansion of the customer base — would be fueled in part by mobile and social.

Riccitiello:  “EA is sort of a leader here. Whether it is your iPad, your iPhone, Android, Facebook, mobile … we are either a
dominant number one in this space, or a number one by a reasonable margin, or in some cases just number two …  so it is
a big important growth story for us.”

Only time will tell who is right…

(Reuters photo)

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