Small-Game Developers Poised to Score
The advent of handheld gaming devices like Sony's PlayStation Portable and gamephones from Nokia and Vodafone is good news for so-called "garage game" developers. Giants like Electronic Arts will continue to focus on titles such as Madden 2004 that feature pixel-rich imagery and cost millions to launch. But many portable devices will have limited power and slower Web connections. As a result, the games played on them "need to be streamlined to play smoothly," says Tim Walsh, of game giant THQ's wireless division. Since simpler games are easier for indie developers to produce, the opportunity for them could be huge. Games now generate more revenue than movie ticket sales, and Forrester Research reports that North Americans play games on wireless devices almost as often as they send text messages. And there's a precedent for a garage game going mainstream: Tetris was developed by one lone programmer back in 1985.