21 trends in the mobile industry. Part I

Website Editor pocketgamer.biz Following the results of the recent conference, GDC identified 21 trends in the modern mobile industry. 

1. In the morning – pleasure, in the evening – money 

During the conference, several f2p application developers stated that they are currently testing their applications without monetization. 

Having released beta versions of their games, they polish the gameplay and closely monitor the behavior of users. Moreover, they pay special attention to the training mode.

The essence of the method is as follows: if the project starts showing good metrics, if players like it, it will not be difficult to implement a good monetization scheme.

The reasonableness of this approach is proved by the well-known projects of the companies NimbleBit (Tiny Tower game) and Imangi (Temple Run game).

2. Life-Time Value

F2P games have been on the mobile market for about two years. So it’s not surprising that many developers are starting to talk about creating games with the expectation that these projects will live for a long, very long time. And, perhaps, to bring money far from immediately.   

For example, one of the highest-grossing games of 2011 in the USA was Tap Zoo (Pocket Gems), released in September 2010, and Diner Dash (PlayFirst), released in March 2009, peaked in January 2012.

All this suggests that the most important indicator is the LTV – Life-Time Value of the player, i.e. how much money he will bring you for the entire time that he plays your game.

Moreover, when operating a project year after year, you begin to better understand how much money a regular player brings you per year; this figure directly correlates with indicators such as the cost of attracting a player and cashflow. 

3. It’s just a game

It is still unclear, but it is quite possible that mobile gambling (casinos and others like them) will blow up the market in 2012. 

Playtika, the authors of Slotomania, bought Caesars in the bud at the end of 2011, Big Fish has just acquired Self Aware Games, the developers of Card Ace Casino. Giant Zynga is also now choosing a victim in this segment.

And it’s all about money. Compare: on a gambler, you, on average, earn $ 150 versus $20 on a regular (LTV).

4. Wormy apple

iOS is still the most promising market for those who want to break the bank, but recently developers are increasingly starting to swing their fists when it comes to the App Store.

The guys from Apple are too slow and heavy on the rise, they take too long to solve problems that require surgical intervention. 

They did not immediately react to the case with bots, they are sluggish in cases of protection of rights, their Game Center still lacks functionality. The list can go on for a very long time…

5. iPad disrupts continuity

The release of the new iPad is a turning point for the industry. 

It is clear that developers like Epic (including Fishlabs, MadFinger, NaturalMotion, Revo Solutions and many others) will use the platform’s capabilities to the limit. But for everyone else, Retina will mean the following: I didn’t optimize the application – the textures will stretch four times. 

In the event that everyone rushes to optimize their applications, this will affect the increase in the size of the application. Some companies are already seriously considering increasing them to two gigabytes. On the cheapest iPad model, no more than eight such applications will fit. 

As for the original iPad, it is already too slow for some top-end applications. 

In other words, it is fragmentation. Although not the same as in the case of Android, but still fragmentation.

6. Network effect    

Another consequence of focusing the attention of developers and publishers on the cost of attracting a new user is the increase in the number of cross-advertising networks. Many developers whose games have enviable traffic want to transfer it to their less successful products using cross-advertising.      

7. Get your numbers

There is also a growing number of different market research and companies engaged in them. There are already Flurry, App Annie and Distimo. Metricmine and App Rank have recently joined them.

In general, we can say this: there can’t be a lot of information about apps and app stores. 

8. Battle of the Titans

Much of what is happening in the ocean of mobile content is easy to see. At the same time, a lot of things slip out of our sight. Nevertheless, by the way some projects are floating, we can guess the direction and strength of the undercurrents.

At the recent GDC, many spoke out about the confrontation between such large companies as Apple, Google and Facebook. Some even talked about the impact that Amazon and Microsoft have on the market. 

Personally, I think that the impact of all these companies on the market is much less than is commonly believed. 

For example, only 20% of Bejeweled Blitz players on iOS use Facebook Connect to compare their results with those of friends. And this is despite the fact that the game is social. 

To be more precise, it is still not entirely clear whether games are a priority development for any of these giants. And until that happens, the giants will remain dormant.

9. Basics

The GDC keyword was – platform. 

The problem is that its definition (a platform is actually any application network with a service integrated into it) is very general. 

There are direct competitors. For example, GREE and DeNA Mobage, but at the same time GREE uses Facebook social graphs. And this is despite the fact that this is his potential competitor. 

There are also Game Center on iOS, Scoreloop from RIM, several Chinese players like Papaya, Game Zone from The9, Skynet from iDreamSky and so on, not to mention new platforms like Habbo Hotel from Sulake, a platform called the originals from Zynga – Platform and Origin from EA.

In theory, the winner takes all the offers, but at the same time, any avid mobile player is likely to be registered on at least six platforms, depending on their age, geographical location and the type of games they like. 

But this is only the user side of the business. 

While publishers engaged in social games are trying to keep the user in their own gaming networks, companies like Tapjoy, Fiksu and GetJar work on both sides: user and trade, creating their own trading platforms.

Moreover, even such players as Nvidia and Qualcomm are becoming more active in this market. 

There is a controversial opinion that app stores are also platforms. At least in the sense that they are the key moment in the struggle for the acquisition of users with the help of tops and features. 

So, looking at the situation in general, we can say with confidence that the platform is an industry in general, which is not a pair of competing companies, but a huge number of networks dependent on each other. 

10. A simple path to success

Mobile games are becoming more and more difficult. More and more is being spent on their marketing. But games like Tiny Wings and Temple Run demonstrate that a simple idea that can fascinate the user does not require expensive advertising campaigns. 

And, judging by GDC, there are companies that understand this perfectly and are working on wonderful projects with simple game mechanics. 

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