The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) plans to team up with SAR universities to develop a mobile games software engine. The council would apply for funding from the Innovation Technology Fund in two months after further discussion with the institutes, HKPC principal consultant for mobile business solutions Lawrence Cheung said. 'There are not many game engines available on the market, and there are even fewer phone-based ones, especially for developing mobile games,' he said. 'Even the existing ones are not suitable for the Hong Kong market - for example, local users favour role-play games [RPGs] but there are not many RPG-based game engines. 'A good engine enables the developers to have a faster response in terms of time to market.' Sze Yan-ngai, media president of Gameone Systems, a Hong Kong online game developer, said game engines, besides being expensive, often used outdated technology. 'We are using a United States game engine, bought for about HK$1.2 million,' he said. 'But we were a bit regretful after purchasing it as it is technology of at least three years ago.' Mr Sze said developers were generally unwilling to license their gaming engines until demand for their games had subsided. 'We are not able to get the latest technology as [developers] will not export it until they have tested the mainland market,' he said. Mobile-game specialist M Bounce built its J2ME games over a self-developed engine. Business development director Anthony Chung Pok-man said: 'We built the engine based on the specs given by Sun Microsystems. If there is a commonly shared engine, games will be more standardised.' The HKPC also wants the six mobile-phone operators to open a wireless-enabling facility. Mr Cheung said the operators were using different back-end standards that resulted in inconvenience for game developers. 'Companies are afraid a shared environment would lead to keen competition. But a developer has to go through the six operators one by one in order to test whether his game can be run on all networks. We hope a facility can be set up where developers can do that at one time and one place.' Game developers yesterday expressed interest in bringing mobile standards to the games industry. Mr Sze said Gameone was looking into the possibility of adapting its flagship title - Gulongonline - for a mobile environment. Gamers might purchase 'point cards' at convenience stores to allow them to continue playing when they were offline. 'Developing an online game requires about HK$2 million of R&D [research and development] costs while it only requires HK$80,000 to HK$100,000 to transform it for a mobile platform,' he said. 'It may not be a money-making business but it can attract more people to play the game.'