Motorola Inc. on Friday launched its first online-game-playing mobile phone, picking China for the initiative in a bid to tap into one of the world's top game markets.
The U.S. firm, the world's second-biggest cellphone maker, rolled out its E680G, a modified version of an existing gaming handset adapted to play online titles from Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd., a top Chinese game operator.
This is our first online game on a handset, Ian Chapman-Banks, Motorola's North Asia general manager of marketing and business development for mobile devices.
Eighty-three percent of China mobile phone users play games on their mobile phones. This is why we've chosen China first, he told Reuters at ChinaJoy, where game enthusiasts and people dressed as video game characters walked the aisles of China's top video game show in Shanghai.
The agreement covers mobile versions of Shanda's World of Legend and Magical Land online role-playing adventure games.
Software for the games can be downloaded from a Web site, www.motogames.com.cn, which also offered 350 other third-party games for subscribers of China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile carrier with 270 million subscribers.
With more than 400 million subscribers and 100 million handsets sold each year, China is the world's biggest mobile phone market.
It is also a top market for online-game playing. China's online-game sector revenue is expected to nearly double this year to around $900 million, according to various industry forecasts.
Seeking to tap this market, Electronic Arts, the world's biggest video game publisher, announced its first two China-based online game initiatives earlier this month.
Apart from Shanda, other listed Chinese online game companies include NetEase.com Inc., The9 Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd..
In a nation where most people can't afford to pay hundreds of dollars for traditional gaming consoles, users like online game playing for its pay-as-you-go nature.
For as little as 30 yuan ($3.76), users could play the Shanda game using China Mobile's high-speed data service, Chapman-Banks said.
Motorola also launched a music-download site for China, www.motomusic.com.cn, about a year ago and recently opened a similar site in Taiwan.
Both the music and game sites will give fees to content providers. Motorola, which has enjoyed a recent resurgence in China and now commands about 20 percent of its cellphone market, has no plans to develop the sites as revenue centers.
We're not taking any fees, Chapman-Banks said. We're not interested in monetizing content.