Reggie Bush tackles mobile gaming

New Orleans Saints star running back Reggie Bush has his own football game for cell phones. French mobile game publisher Gameloft announced Tuesday that it has signed the Heisman Trophy winner as its cover athlete for Reggie Bush Pro Football 2007, which will be available in January 2007 across multiple wireless carriers and cell phones. This marks the second cover endorsement for Bush, who currently is on the box of Electronic Arts' NCAA Football 07, which is out now for Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PSP.

"This is my first mobile game, so that's quite an honor," said Bush. "It's always flattering when someone thinks highly enough of you and your achievements to feature you in a game."

"Reggie is a new generation of football player," said Gonzague de Vallois, vice president of publishing, Gameloft. "Technically, he's a running back, but he is multi-dimensional. He can run, catch, return punts…he's doing it all and is good at it. He brings a freshness and new appeal to football that hasn't been seen in a long time."

Bush is also a videogame fan, which is one reason he's receptive to gaming deals. Publishers like Gameloft like working with Bush because of the gaming knowledge he brings to the table.

"It makes a huge difference that Reggie is a gamer," said de Vallois. "He not only appreciates the development aspect of it, but he can also identify what makes a good solid football game."

De Vallois said that in addition to bringing his vast knowledge of the sport to the new game, he provided the development team with feedback on plays that would or would not realistically work on the field.

"His input is valued and taken into consideration," said de Vallois. "Often times when you work with a cover athlete who doesn't play video games, they have a difficult time understanding how much impact a game can have on their overall appeal to video game players and fans alike."

"It's crazy how realistic some of these games are on cell phones," said Bush. "My first introduction to cell phone games was through Gameloft. Since then, I've downloaded a couple to play when I'm on the road. I was really amazed by the quality of both 2D and 3D games. Some of them almost feel like you're playing on a console."

Gameloft did not secure the NFL license for this mobile game, which means that actual team names, logos and NFLPA players (aside from Bush) will not be incorporated into the gameplay. De Vallois said the small size of the cell phone screen prevents gamers from reading names and number of real NFL pros in mobile games.

He also said that Gameloft's development team has listened to the complaints of gamers regarding current NFL games and these will be addressed in the new title. In addition, Reggie Bush Pro Football 2007 will incorporate an online leaderboard that rates the best mobile gamers.

"Players will be able to track passing, running, receiving and defensive stats," said de Vallois. "Gamers will have their stats and scores uploaded and the leaderboard will show all of the top players across the country for each carrier."

Because of the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones, videogames are a driving force today as wireless carriers and handset makers are enticing customers to upgrade to better phones that feature 3D graphics.

"Everyone's got a cell phone, so the hardware is there," said Bush. "I think it's matter of getting people to realize that graphics are super advanced and you can have a pretty good experience playing a game on your phone. Or maybe the other players just need to get their own line of cell phone games to help encourage them to try it out."

Bush joins a growing line-up of athletes that have joined Gameloft. Rather than signing deals with the major sports, the mobile publisher has signed pacts with top athletes like Derek Jeter, Vijay Singh and Lleyton Hewitt to create baseball, golf and tennis games for mobile phones. Gameloft also has a street basketball game with the AND1 license.