While 38% of Spain’s 44 million residents have access to the internet via fixed line, Spain also has one of Europe’s largest mobile communications markets in Europe, with current statistics showing 109% penetration.
Couple that with Spain’s love of skill games and their propensity to gamble (again one of the largest gambling markets in Europe, with some 30 billion euros spent on gambling in 2006 according to national statistics) you can see the potential for the games market and in particular the future growth potential in the mobile gaming market.
The majority of Spain’s broadband users could only access around 1mb/s in 2006 and for many the average speed was much less. This is due to the lack of investment and renewal of fixed line technology. Telefonica who own most of the fixed lines and who lease them to service providers like Ya.com or Spantel, have failed to invest in fixed line technology, and the nature of their telephone lines has been the common reason why many have only been able to receive low bandwidth.
Many of Spain’s residents who live outside main towns or cities also fail to receive high speeds (indeed many even fail to obtain adsl at all) as the distance from the central exchange point causes attenuation on lines. Without investment in repeaters or exchange points, residents are now turning to internet access via mobile phones or USB modems as a faster and more reliable way of connecting to search the internet or play games.
Together with Vodafone (one of the three main operators of mobile communications in Spain) and Nortel, recently investing heavily in 3.6 megabit 3G communications technology for Spain, users are now able to access speeds averaging around 2mb/s, faster than the average fixed line bandwidth speeds in other major European countries.
The higher speeds allow greater variation in services, and one of the major services provided to mobile users is online gaming.
Nokia NGage, who recently undertook a survey of mobile gamers in Europe, state that 77% of Spanish subscribes play games on their mobile at least once per week, with some 14% at least once every day.
64% of mobile users in Spain play games on the move, more so than at home which is only 50%. Multiplayer gaming is becoming more popular with 17% currently accessing multi-player games each week and averaging 28 minutes sessions.
Silicon Seeds (an online mobile games site) also claim that Spain is the second biggest market in Europe for downloading mobile games.
Movilenio’s Ludo was the best-selling mobile game for Vodafone Spain in December 2005, and was featured on the Vodafone Live portal for weeks.
Bingo is another multi-player game which is proving popular in Spain, though while growth in registrations in particularly fast, actual cash play is proving much more difficult to accomplish as it seems the Spanish much prefer free-play games. Perhaps this is also due to Spain’s lack of confidence in providing credit card details over the internet or over the air. However, it is not thought to be too long before bingo will be offered over the air to mobile subscribers as e-gaming magazine report recent further development of mobile bingo and casino games from some of the big mobile gaming development companies.
So while countries like the UK and Sweden continue the fastest growth of bandwidth capabilities together with online bingo gaming offerings, the future for online bingo in Spain is certainly more mobile.