Orange See spent a great part of his career trying to find out just what it was that attracted people to playing games on their mobile phone. And all along the answer was right there in front of his face.
"People like to talk about the games they are playing with their friends - and they like to laugh," explained See, who is a producer at the Hong Kong-based game makers M-Inverse Holdings.
See was part of the team that put together the Pimple Popper game that in three years has been downloaded more than 10 million times. "What it has taught us is that people want to have a hot topic to talk to other people about and they want to have fun," he said.
The game allows players to do exactly what the name suggests - complete with graphic visuals and sound effects on screen - and See revealed that although those who gave the game one star in his company's feedback ratings said it was "repulsive," those who gave it a maximum of five stars said they thought it was "funny."
"As someone who designs games, it's not the kind of thing I thought I would be involved in inventing but its success has taught us a lot about what people want. Word of mouth is a major factor in determining the success of mobile games," he said.
See was speaking Wednesday at the New Generation Digital Entertainment Summit (Mobile and Social Games) -- held as part of Hong Kong's annual Film and TV Market (Filmart). The panel discussion looked at how mobile games had developed -- and what it is, exactly, that consumers aree interested in playing on their phones.
Advances in smartphone technology have created a massive global market for games and it is one the panel agreed would be continuing to grow, with industry estimates pointed towards a value of more than US$4 billion (three billion euros) in 2012.
"China, as one example, has one billion active mobile phone users and we are expecting the smartphone market to grow by 40 percent this year. That would mean it would reach 250 million by the end of the year," explained Jeff Lyndon, co-founder of iDreamsky Technology, which has the licensing rights in China to the wildly popular Angry Birds game.
"Our research has shown that people all over the world have the same tastes when it comes to mobile games. So in China the most popular games are Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, just like they are everywhere else."
Stanly Fung, CEO of EpicForce Entertainment, said the popularity of mobile games was a direct result of the creation of Apple's AppStore in 2008. He claimed more than 70 percent of the games downloaded were priced at US$0.99 (€0.75) making them affordable -- but that people were also quick to delete the games if they were not given updates.
"It totally changed the rules of the game," said Fung, whose company has developed the popular iFighter 1945 game. "Everything can be distributed in the one place. Since then we have been able to distributed 300 million apps. People respond to fun, original concepts that are updated regularly."