Before I get into keys to success, I think it is important to take a look at the state of today’s mobile gaming industry.
Firstly, it is no secret that our marketplace is extremely crowded- with over 775,000 apps* (as of January 2013) in the App Store and 500,000 Android apps** on just Google Play, alone. Additionally, we have seen more traditional console developers such as Ubisoft, Activision, SEGA, and EA not only penetrate the mobile market but shift towards a more mobile-centric strategy. While a growing number of mobile developers promotes healthy competition within our industry, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discover games in today’s crowded market and, in turn, directly drives up user acquisition costs, making it harder for smaller (but equally as talented) developers to get their games discovered.
So how do you cut through the clutter and get noticed among the 4.2 million*** mobile games that are being downloaded every day on just the App Store alone? There’s no better way to discover games than learning about the ones your friends are currently playing. When developers bake in social features that impact a player’s overall gameplay and performance – like enabling head-to-head competition among players, allowing fellow gamers to gift or trade prized items to each other, or encouraging gamers to create alliances or teams – it not only fosters fun social experiences for players, but ultimately will drive viral distribution and increase organic discovery of the game.
Getting a game discovered and installed is the first step, but equally important is keeping your players engaged and happy. With the sheer amount of mobile games available today, understandably, players are becoming more selective about the types of games they want and are demanding more from them. This phenomenon is especially the case in the free-to-play space where traditionally the lifespan of a game is about three months. As the industry becomes increasingly sophisticated, developers must now not only capture the needs of their audience by developing quality games, but they must also continuously innovate and improve upon existing games through “live operations,” the strategy of evaluating data and analytics to assess what is working in the game, what isn’t and how to make a game successful long term. Recently, we launched a new feature called World Domination in one of our existing titles called Modern War. The game has been out for over a year, yet we saw the highest revenue ever in the game’s history the weekend we launched the feature, proving that through strategically expanding on existing titles, developers can sustain a game’s lifespan and grow them into hits well beyond the traditional expiration date. Updating games means a lot to the player — it’s essentially saying that we are committed to keeping players happy and excited. You can look at it as good customer service and that will go a long way.
Lastly, in order to succeed in mobile gaming, developers must place quality over quantity. With the landscape being as competitive as it is today, gone are the days that developers can push out game-after-game in the hopes that one will be a hit. Additionally, when focusing on a few quality titles at a time, developers are better able to become experts in specific genres. We’ve put in significant investment towards innovating on our “RPG” (role playing games) titles by melding proven game mechanics together and taking the best elements from a variety of different genres. For example, in Knights & Dragons, we used the best elements from card battle mechanics and RPG mechanics and brought them together to create an experience a wider range of gamers can appreciate.
The beauty of mobile social gaming is that it is open to developers of all sizes and experiences. I think there are still many untapped opportunities and the competition is high, but as long as we focus on social, invest in new technologies, iterate based on our players’ needs, and prioritize a high-quality gaming experience, there will continue to be success in our industry.
GREE, Inc. is a global mobile social gaming company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan with offices in 11 cities worldwide including San Francisco and Vancouver. Three years after establishment, GREE created the world’s first mobile social game in 2007 and today our mobile social gaming ecosystem reaches 169 countries and regions. Anil Dharni joined GREE’s U.S. subsidiary GREE International, Inc. last year through the Funzio acquisition, and as SVP of Studio Operations, his charter is to support the development of great mobile social games.
*** source: http://www.newzoo.com/trend-reports/mobile-games-trend-report/