EA co-founder Trip Hawkins discusses the 'echo' between two merging game spaces

Social and mobile gaming ‘not integrated enough’

Digital Chocolate boss Trip Hawkins says mobile is still lacking when it comes to social gaming, due to the lack of what he calls ‘an echo’.

A what? Hawkins describes this as the phenomenon found on Facebook where people visit the site daily to see what their friends are up to, and then notice updates on the games that they are playing.

"Today, discovering and having a free trial of an app is far too independent of the social features of mobile phones," writes Hawkins in a blog post.

"The public may be trained on a variety of mobile social services but none of them are integrated with games. And the public may be trained to go to a mobile app store but it has no meaningful social graph when they get there."

Digital Chocolate was one of the earliest Western firms to try to launch a social mobile games service with its Cafe series. However, Hawkins claims it – along with more recent platforms like OpenFeint and Plus+ – have "not become genuine social destinations".

"Mobile gamers are not in the habit of going to such a mobile social Café, they are instead going to a game that they remember and want to enjoy playing alone," he writes.

"Thus there is very little echo in mobile because we don’t have a massive audience checking in to a social service that is reminding them to try new games and return to existing games they have."

However, Hawkins says that Japan is the exception to this rule with services like Gree and MobageTown. He also thinks Facebook has the advantage over Apple and its rivals for the future.

"The battle between Facebook and mobile devices will now be a race to see how fast Facebook can become a capable promoter and merchandiser of games, compared to what it will take for Apple and Google Android devices to develop legitimate social destinations that link seamlessly to games and have echo," he writes.

"I have no doubt that Facebook wins this battle because their task is far simpler. However, over time, we will indeed hear the echo on all these platforms and devices. This makes mobile social games an even more exciting longer term bet because, after all, there are billions of these devices."

Story originally appeared on Develop sister site Mobile Entertainment. Click here to view the story.

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