Check out our industry insights in to the mobile gaming market where we look at growing trends for gamers, discoverability for developers and how to manage payment methods in 2018 and beyond.
If you’re involved in the gaming industry, the popularity of mobile gaming is impossible to ignore. Interestingly, people who exclusively play casual mobile games like the (still) popular Candy Crush style match 3 games, infinite runners, and physics style puzzlers don’t generally consider themselves “gamers”. They have one or two favorite games on their phone and they use them to take up a little bit of downtime in their day. Yet, these “non-gamers” are an excellent market.
But, to tap into the casual mobile gaming market you’re going to need an understanding of what these players are looking for, and the current trends of the entire mobile gaming scene.
Casual is Key
Though plenty of people are playing casual mobile games, statistics show that they’re playing them for less time overall. This is most likely due to several factors, but the sheer number of apps out there certainly plays a role. If one app becomes to boring or too challenging, there is always a similar app waiting to replace it.
It’s not just playing time overall that has dropped, but playing time per session. To counteract this, successful developers are revamping the mobile game model.
Newer games and newer versions of old favorites are adding multiple avenues for players to progress, whether it’s leveling up or unlocking character options, appealing to a wider range of players, and providing a single player with layers of engaging gameplay. Milestones need the perfect balance of challenge and reward.
Augmented Reality is the Future
When Pokémon Go took the mobile gaming world by storm, it ushered in a new era in mobile gaming: Augmented Reality. Unfortunately, the game was plagued with issues like server problems and battery drain, and only a small percentage of those first players are still playing today. Yet, it still has a small but loyal following and is considered a success.
Pokémon Go may be one of very few apps taking advantage of AR technology, but that’s about to change. Nintendo is promising an AR game set in the wildly popular Harry Potter universe and Apple plans to integrate AR into more and more apps.
Mobile game developers should keep AR technology on their radar.
A Change In Microtransactions and Ads
Less than 2% of casual mobile gamers ever buy microtransactions like in game currency, mystery loot boxes, and character upgrades. Yet, those few people provide about 90% of mobile gaming revenue, so they can’t be ignored. Recently, some shady practices by developers, especially involving loot boxes, led to a microtransaction backlash.
So, it’s time for developers to step up and gain back the confidence of the people that are actually spending money on games. Apple now requires developers who sell loot boxes and other random in game items to disclose the odds of the likelihood of players getting different types of items.
Treat these consumers with respect and reward them with quality in game content, and they’ll continue to pay for it.
So what about all of those players NOT purchasing upgrades with microtransactions — how to they bring in profit? Ads, of course.
While regular ads and banners are a staple in “free to play” games, interactive ads are a great way to boost revenue. Most users tend to ignore ads, that is, unless interacting with them provides a reward.
Give players something in exchange for watching an ad, and they’re much more likely to click.
Get Out of the App Store
From a developer’s point-of-view, it’s difficult to ignore the growing trend of smaller, third-party app stores. Even with all of the new games coming to the App store and Google Play, the top money making games have remained stagnant.
With an oversaturation of the market and the sheer cost to produce and market a game for these huge stores, developing a successful mobile game can be a daunting task.
Indie app stores that offer a more accessible platform may better serve smaller developers.
Mobile gamers provide a specific market, one that can be tapped into by creative indie developers with the right knowledge and tools.
Here at GameFeatured, we’re dedicated to helping developers find their audience and learn to market their games successfully.