How great are the Great British Games and the Great British Games Industry?

As a nation we love games or sports or both. We are world class at making them. Perhaps not playing them, in fact, you could argue that one of our greatest exports was and is games. Which then other countries take to heart and outshine us at – at every conceivable occasion. However, the spirit of sport and the point of games is something which is very, very British! The spirit of fair play embodied in games like cricket helped us gain respect across continents and generations. And whether this fair play is still seen throughout sports (with countless examples of where it isn’t – Luiz Suarez biting someone for example) we can safely say if it wasn’t for the UK we wouldn’t have a truly mind bogglingly number of sports. Football, rugby, cricket, baseball, tennis, boxing, ice hockey (apparently) and I could go on (for those of you so minded – click here for a list of more than 20) But how is this relevant for the UK now?

I think we have a great opportunity, to do something amazing, to get behind the UK mobile games industry and video games industries and support the 9,000 or so highly skilled development staff that the industry employs. You see just like in days of old, where the UK invented games, UK game developers are export focused. 95 per cent of UK game businesses export at least some of their games/services to overseas markets. The industry, unlike the really rather horrid and incestuous finance and banking sector, is NOT London focused, 80 per cent of the workers are employed outside of London. And it’s not that they are not bright – it’s not the manufacturer of yesteryear in dark satanic mills. 80 per cent of the workforce in game studios such as Dojit Games, Climax, Jagex, Kuju Entertainment, Rebellion and Ubisoft Reflections are qualified to degree level or above. As an industry as well, unlike many others which are falling by the way, the UK game development sector is R&D intensive. Two fifths of UK game developers have a budget dedicated to R&D. UK game developers spend on average 20 per cent of turnover on R&D.   I wonder if the same can be said for construction. And to finish with – the eco icing on the economic educational cake, the video games sector is also low carbon in output.Most of the work in games development involves design on computers, the packaging in games is minimal (with mobile games development this is actually nothing at all) whilst boxed products are relatively light for videos games suppliers to manufacture and to transport. In the future, video games will become even more low carbon in nature as the industry moves towards digital distribution like in mobile games development right now.

So we here at dojit games think that mobile gaming is very important for the UK. Not just because it is creative and cool, but as it brings in needed revenue to the UK, has massive export potential – with 65% of our mobile games at dojit being downloaded in China! And as it follows a long traditional of games creation in this great country we call Great Britain. We make games for our world, exported with pride, and perhaps next time with a little bit of British culture too. Maybe Home Bear, our mobile game for children, should wear union jack pants? With the world now a global market place – isn’t it time Britain started exporting more?

Can you make a quintessentially British Game? If so what would it be? 

How do we make sure the uk economy doesn’t dip again?

A radical suggestion from a radical new industry job maker: Games.

Good news it would seem as The Office for National Statistics released its first estimates for GDP yesterday today with experts saying the news should deliver a “psychological boost to consumers and businesses”.

“Today’s figures are an encouraging sign the economy is healing,” said George Osborne. “We are making progress. Businesses have created over a million and a quarter new jobs, and interest rates are at record lows.”

Year on year, the economy has grown by 0.6%, above what the OECD predicted last month. Apparently the big winners or gainers here are in the service sector, which unsurprisingly for the UK is leading the way with quarter one growth of 0.6% whilst more old school tangible building things like in the construction sector shrank by 2.5% whilst production industries registered growth of just 0.2%.

So what does this say about the UK economy? Is it changing, should it change, should the government see this change and do more about it? Or can we rely on people building and buying houses forever?

Let me give you some other stats about a small and growing part of that economy, a part of a larger sector called the Creative Industry, something which has massive export potential, and helps Apple do a very important thing for America. It’s something we are part of at dojit games.

As Apple manufactures it’s products mainly in China but as this very interesting paper shows because of the app economy (i.e. people building apps and mobile games for iOS) The end result of it is that the app economy produces twice as many jobs in the US economy as there are people working to make Apple products in China.

This has BIG implications, and I think it is here that we have the answer for the UK. We start believing in advanced digital manufacturer. We start understanding the economic power of mobile games and mobile games development.

You have to remember that this industry is entirely new: before Apple et al brought out the iPhone and the smart phone revolution that following in 2007 none of it existed at all. It’s a radical new wealth creator. Just like it’s older brother video games. Which itself is advanced and creative digital manufacturing at its best.

The UK video games industry is the largest in Europe and the UK, it’s a world class location for video game development. The UK boasts a substantial and highly qualified talent pool, some of the finest video games studios globally, technical as well as creative excellence, an ongoing ability to generate products that sell well globally and to create original video games IP.

The UK is home to the studios that have developed video games such as Grand Theft Auto IV (the fastest selling entertainment product of all time), Runescape, the Fable series, Broken Sword and LittleBigPlanet.

The video game sector offers opportunities for growth and high value, high technology job creation for the UK. Estimates from PWC suggest that the global market for video games will grow from $52.5 billion in 2009 to $86.8 billion in 2014. TIGA’s, the really rather wonderful games union, has an ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to do games business and so enable the UK economy to secure a growing share of this huge market.

The UK games development sector contributes approximately £1 billion to UK Gross Domestic Product  per annum. Whilst a survey of developers conducted by Games Investor Consulting, saw the sector grew by 4% per cent in 2012, remember the service industry grew by 0.6%. So how’s that for growth George? Let’s get behind the UK mobile game industry and make sure we don’t do the triple dip!

Freedom’s / Freemium under threat. A nation divided.

Isn’t life hard enough for advanced digital manufactures’ already? For those companies making a difference, creating new pockets of innovation and making money for the country. Those “creatives” who act with decency and want to be getting a fair day’s wage for the work they have done. People working in industries like films, games and digital.

Yet, it is amazing how a few bad eggs might ruin the whole industry for us. At dojit games we make games for children, puzzle platform games like Home Bear, educational sports strategy games like Soccer Zillionare, and more arcade health knowledge based games like Totally Milkshake. These games, like most things physical in the world cost money to make. They take time. They take creative energy. They exist not in a vacuum but in a commercial reality – one with the potential to make the country millions of pounds in new revenue. Our mobile gaming expertise could be one of the UK greatest natural and exportable resources, up there with film and TV….

But now the government with the OFT has decided due to a tiny minority that the whole industry should be investigated and more importantly portrayed in a less than positive light. So the OFT in their investigation are looking into whether the full cost of mobile games is made clear when they are downloaded or accessed, as according to them this lack of information could potentially lead children and parents to make decisions they may not have made if prices were more transparently advertised at the start of the purchasing process.

This is surely not possible – isn’t it the same as warning – “this catalogue is free but if you like the fashion brand in there, so you might spend a small fortune over your lifetime?” Should the “Next catalogue” be banned? Or should we punish websites, or mobile phone games or mobile phone apps which are made well with warnings for customers about eye catching designs and engaging ideas as they would be even better at enticing people into spending their money! This is simple madness.

However, we at dojit applaud any action which highlights the dangers of rogue mobile game developers who charge huge individual payments for items – to mainly exploit the weak – and we dislike mobile phone games which you cannot complete without purchases, and we make games you can complete without payment, but we cannot abide this attack on the mobile game development industry as a whole. Apple has already introduced an app warning for parents on iTunes for apps which makes it abundantly clear whether a free app on its store does or does not contain in-app purchases. Yet this is NOT enough for the OFT surely any more regulation would be like needing a sticker on your credit card saying: “Do not give access to your finances to your children – as this card along with the pin number might mean bad things might happen”

Yet this is what might happen to our little industry – we might be regulated out of existence due to people like Cavendish Elithorn, OFT Senior Director for Goods and Consumer, who justifies this intrusion by saying:

We are concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs.“

Playing games which they thought were free? Who does he think pays for them? The most worring thing is the thinking or non thinking this idea creates – proven by how last week when, I was chatting to a friend who doesn’t work in the mobile game industry, they happily told me that “all these free apps are cons!” I kid you not. When I asked they thought free apps paid for themselves – they had no answers. Yet they happily used Google with its PPC!

So giving away your data for free to a global colossus on a daily basis is apparently alright (look at Facebook) but to purchase something in a game is not. My concern is that to attack industries for new business models is dangerous for innovation. This kind of thinking will stop people wanting to create great mobile phone games, it will stop young people getting jobs, and it will stop an industry growing in the UK, a country where we really need advanced digital manufacturing like this to take off.

A nation divided between the understandings that “if you don’t pay for the product – you probably are the product.”

Does the Future Of Mobile Games Lie With Publishers?

Or do publishers lie about the future of mobile games?

Do we need a new type of mobile game publisher and is the age of DIY publishing dying out as the bigger boys enter the market place.

These and many other thoughts we have been running over in our minds here at the dojit offices. As mobile games have long been a free-for-all market, where there hasn’t been a single dominant force. It’s made the bar of entry low, creating as Gamasutra puts it “both schlock and ingenious innovations.”

But what’s the future hold? In an interview with Gamasutra former PopCap franchise manager Giordano Contestabile says that he believes they have the answer. Which shouldn’t surprise us as a month ago, Contestabile joined Tilting Point Media, a company which is “…investing $40 million in the next three years to fund the development and marketing of mobile and tablet games…”, according to their announcement.

final-logo

Their goals are to empower independent developers and make it easier for them to achieve commercial success. Which is great news for mobile games developers like dojit games or is it?

Contestabile starts out by referring to the fact that on iOS, “…75% of [mobile games] are made by independent developers.” Even big publishers, says Contestabile, like EA or Activision – who made huge investments on that market, only have about a 10% share of the market each. Again great news for independent games developers like dojit games – who are an independent studio like 83% of all studios in the UK that started up in 2011 and 2012 . Whilst 37 per cent of all UK studios are now primarily focused on mobile – up from 19 per cent in 2010.  For studios founded between 2011 and 2012, this figure rises to 53 per cent.

This means we are part of something really rather amazing, as Dr Richard Wilson, from TIGA says: “The UK games development sector is young, independent and mobile. Over half of the studios in the UK started up in the last four years. The overwhelming majority of the UK’s studios are independent: there are 34 publisher studios and 414 independent studios. Increasingly studios’ preferred platform for games is mobile and tablet: almost two-fifths of the UK studio population now primarily make games for these platforms.

“The attraction of the mobile and tablet market to UK developers is clear. The mobile and tablet market is substantial and growing: sales of smartphones are expected to hit 1 billion globally in 2013. There are few barriers to entry in the mobile and tablet market, the cost of game development on these platforms is relatively low and it is comparatively straightforward for developers to update game content.”

But the problem has been being found. It is about marketing your mobile game. As Contestabile puts it “…many indie developers with great ideas and skills but it’s going to become more difficult for them to succeed in mobile, because it’s starting to become an expensive proposition.”

Unlike a company like EA, Tilting Point won’t be developing their own games either, which Contestabile sees as an advantage. As he rightly believes that many indie developers might be skeptical of the big publishers’ desire to market indie games properly when they have their own products to market.

As Gamesutra comes on, even with the dawn of digital distribution and the internet, it can still be hard to get word out about your game, especially if you’re not well-versed in marketing. Which apparently many UK mobile games developers are not?

Although the interview may read a bit like an extended statement, Tilting Point seems to have their hearts in the right place. They seem to have understood that to succeed in the long run businesses must innovate or perish.

What do you think? Do games need marketing help by publishers? Or does a great game not need mobile marketing at all?

How a small number of Parents could stop Mobile Gaming

There is some dangerous rhetoric being bandied around – with ideas which if they are allowed to take off could ruin the very start of something wonderful which will make money for England.

I am talking about how the mistakes of a small minority might make it impossible for creativity to blossom, how the irresponsible can control the minds of the many responsible, how governments can really hamper a growth sector – our sector – the mobile gaming developers of this world.

And so many reporters are jumping on the bandwagon mainly due to high PR profile cases, for example the story of one young boy who spent £1700 on his father’s iPad in less than an hour. Ok that is bad but let’s get a dose of reality here i.e. I would guess that only 1 person in a million has done this (*the exact analytical stats are not known.)

Shouldn’t it be, ultimately, the parent’s responsibility to check what their children are doing. Or to know about opt in and opt out choices work as according to Charlie Osborne of ZDnet, “not every parent understands how an application works, the fact you can turn off in-app purchases in settings, or even that in-app purchases exist.” Isn’t this like saying people don’t know that you can call people on mobile phones, that your child, unless you chat to them about it, could call a premium number on a landline? And that you can block children from access to things?

app_purchase_password_restrictions

This is the nanny state gone mad. As of now, the OFT has launched an investigation into whether children are being unfairly pressured or encouraged to pay for additional content in ‘free’ web and app-based games, including upgraded membership or virtual currency such as coins, gems or fruit. So mobile games developers and the industry is to be pressured into NOT creating engaging games and getting them paid for with upgrades? This IS Dangerous!

We understand that as part of the investigation, the OFT is looking into whether these mobile phone games include ‘direct exhortations’ to children – a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them. Again isn’t this an attack on basic freedoms. I don’t hear anyone picking on the toy industry for advertising on Nickelodeon.

People use Google for free as other people’s advertising pays for it, you use Facebook for free and give them your personal details, you use apps for free and you can upgrade your experiences, you watch ITV for free and advertising again pays for it. You can get a free piece of a cake at a shop – and the shopkeeper hopes you buy some more later on. Surely everyone knows this by now – and trying to stop this is counterproductive to productive people – people working hard to make a new way of living. People who are making great mobile games and doing great things.

With this weak thinking, the OFT should look into whether parents who give their children their credit card details and pin numbers should be reimbursed? Madness! Or should the government investigate whether shopkeepers are allowed to entice people in with sampling their wares? Should all “so called” freebies be stopped – whenever you can “try before you buy” we should monitor the effects on people, of course not.

Sampling, freemiums, try before you buy, test drives, upgrades, the ability of the customer to make a decision are all things we should praise and triumph. STOP this madness! Didn’t we go through this before with credit cards and the internet? And before then with landlines and naughty numbers!

It is simple. If it is connected to your finances, if it can take money out of your wallet, if you give access to it to your children, in ANYWAY, the responsibility for your child’s action have to lie with you, as the responsible adult.

One simple solution rather than smashing the whole mobile phone games industry, throwing the baby out with the bather water, might be as reported in ICT Innovate, to “Make sure you’re logged out and don’t give your password to your children in the first place.“ I find this works every time.

Zynga Mobile – is this the next level of publisher?

As Jeffrey Grubb reports and recognises… “It’s hard to break through to gamers on mobile platforms. Thousands of games crowd the market, and it can cost a lot for an independent studio to acquire players.” Gee thanks for that… 😉

Not surprisingly, we have found this to be true, especially in new markets, like nonviolent educational mobile games for children like our Home Bear, which we have re-released in a free format to celebrate spring in the UK.

Perhaps some of the big boys have the answer. A couple of HUGE players are becoming publishers with very deep pockets (Tilt has apparently $40 million) to help the economy / game development community. Facebook is moving into helping push apps, and therefore games, onto android handsets with their Home screen ideas, and last year, Zynga introduced a third-party publishing platform in an attempt to directly address these issues.

Basically, smaller game development companies like Dojit, can build games and work with Zynga on monetization and marketing. Now, the company is looking to double-down on mobile publishing with new partners and better games.

On the mobile publishing side, we’ve really been taking a curated approach to working with the best developers to bring into our network,” Zynga vice president of mobile publishing told GamesBeat. Over the last 12 months, Zynga has worked with third-parties to launch games like Horn, Clay Jam, and Respawnables on iOS and Android.

Those games all had very successful launches and were very well received critically,” said Jones. Clay Jam, a casual physics game from developer Fat Pebble, has over one million downloads on Android alone. However, the BIG one is coming as Zynga is currently working with Inis, the studio that developed Elite Beat Agents for the Nintendo DS in 2006. The developer is working on a tower-offense title called Eden To Green that features detailed 3D visuals and turn-based gameplay.

We’re excited about Eden to Green,” said Jones. “It’s the first partner that encapsulates every step that we’re trying to do in mobile publishing, which is to make high-quality free-to-play social games. Inis is hitting every pillar that we look for in a company.”

Inis worked hand-in-hand with Zynga on every aspect of the project. The mobile game developer had a basic design concept, but Zynga was always providing feedback to help maximize its free-to-play model. In return, Zynga is rewarding Inis with a major cross-game promotional campaign to drive players to the title, which is out now in Canada. The companies are preparing to launch globally soon.

Beyond Eden to Green, Zynga also has a handful of other “high end” partners in its pocket that it is waiting to announce.

We want to marry our expertise with the best game developers in the world,” said Jones. “It could be simple 2D or complex 3D games, but if they’re free-to-play and social, I want to see them. I want to work with those mobile game developers and bring them into our network. We don’t want to put ourselves in a box.”

What we are interested at here at dojit, as we make clever, fun, free mobile games, is how are they bringing this knowledge across?

Is it an analytical system? And then how is the IP all sorted out? Who really owns the brand and the rights? And how much do independents with good ideas really need them to publish their ideas? It seems a little like a Warner Brothers working with writers even before they right the novel – and I only shudder to think what happens creatively and to the industry when this happens.

But maybe that’s just me. What do you think? Would Zynga’s guiding hand help your mobile games develop? 

What game do we make next? The 64 million $ question.

What kind of game should a game developer make to give them a bigger chance of success? This is something we have been discussing in the dojit mobile game development offices. With a stable of games releases, a couple in the pipeline, and a lot of statistical analysis – is it possible to predict the future when it comes to mobile game development success?

If we look at information from App Annie then this month’s iOS platforms biggest mover was Imangi Studios, best known for producing the hit game Temple Run. On January 17, 2013, they launched the sequel, Temple Run 2, whose massive success helped the husband-and-wife team jump 34 spots to the #5 ranking in this month’s Index. Not bad for a running game – so perhaps running games are where it is at? Which is great news for our Dragon Dancer release.

However, on the other side of things, a company which has created no running games has had it’s sales continue to accelerate remarkably in January 2013. GungHo Online Entertainment  Janurary’s sales represented close to 30% of sales for all of 2012 and represented an increase of 1022% over the same month one year ago. And not bad if you only have 14 games released!

While GungHo might well also sell PC games and console games (e.g. PlayStation Vita, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS), its financial report – pegged its leading growth driver to be mobile apps sold on the iOS App Store and Google Play. Their January 2013 report called out the success of their hit game Puzzle & Dragons in particular. Remarkably, GungHo led the Top Publishers by Monthly Revenue rankings not only for the iOS App Store, but also for Google Play. So perhaps it is puzzles and platforms where we should align our creative efforts. Platform games with a puzzle element for a younger audience like our Home Bear Spring edition are doing very well in China – with more than 65% of our downloads coming from that region.

Yet should we really follower the lead of the leading game houses, isn’t doing so simply trying to play catch-up? Who would have guessed that the biggest selling and fastest growing games would be categories like “make you think” and “make you move”?

If we had been looking just at numbers then a few years ago, the top charts on Facebook, iOS, mixi and Tencent were largely resource management games. From managing farms to running cafes, a whole host of these games from hundreds of top publishers dominated casual gaming East and West. Now in the “make you think” category, the mobile games topping the charts include strategy games like Clash of Clans (Supercell) and Kingdoms of Camelot (Kabam), brain / puzzle / word games like Candy Crush Saga (King.com), Puzzle & Dragons (GungHo Online) and LINE POP (NHN). In the “make you move” category, we have many more twitch-based games such as Temple Run 2 (Imangi Studios), Subway Surfers (Kiloo) and Angry Birds (Rovio).

Meanwhile,to confound everything, Cha Cha Cha made its debut in this list as the #2 grossing game – a car crashing ‘make you move’ game. Which has been successful for a whole host of other (almost non game reasons) as CJ E&M explains “There are two main reasons Cha Cha Cha has become a top 10 gaming app on Google Play, both in terms of monthly revenue (#2) and monthly downloads (#9). First, it’s a really exciting game to play. There are many racing games, but we distinguished our game with a car-crashing feature that really resonated with our audience. Second, we focused monetization efforts on users in their 30s-50s. These users are less sensitive to trends than younger users, so they retain better. This demographic is also willing to spend money on games that suit them.” So perhaps our question shouldn’t be what type of game should we make – it’s more what type of person do we want to play it?

 

But do mobile game developers really choose their demographic based on life time value of the potential customer or more what is easier to get with social media marketing and what’s on trend right now? How did you pick your demographic? 

Freemium or Premium? That is the question… Or is it? Part Two

It is interesting that new research reported by Shane Schick shows offering virtual merchandise is a key monetization strategy for iPhone and iPad apps. Not the freemium model as previously thought. For a while now in the mobile / hand held gaming world (which for a very quickly changing world is not very long) we have seen iOS leading the way for in app purchases. The thinking from massive games like Clash of the Clans being keep apps free but offer some opportunities for consumers to open their wallets once they’re engaged – a lot of opportunities. Distimo’s recent research report: “How The Most Successful Apps Monetize Their User Base” backs this up with some really lovely numbers. The Netherlands-based company, which provides an app store analytics tool, looked at the highest-grossing 250 apps in Apple’s App Store in February that have been released in the last year.

 The Stats:

arpd-ipad-us arpd-iphone-us

More than three-quarters of all revenue was generated via in-app purchases (IAPs), with 90 percent coming from Asian markets. Which is something I found very interesting – as this is the area we wish to enter with titles like Dragon Dancer. Countries like Japan also tend to spend more on apps, but the overall average price was $0.99. Freemium doesn’t work–at least based on this data. Many of the freemium apps generated less than $0.99 on average per user and the overall average revenue was $0.93. Freemium trailed far behind other monetization models such as in-app purchases or even paid downloads. IAPs and paid downloads go together almost as well as chocolate and peanut butter: Distimo said this combination generated even more revenue for the developers that have tried it. Screen size may matter: iPads with IAPs generated more money than IAPs on iPhone apps, and the average price point was higher, with more than $4 for the tablet apps vs. just over $2 for smartphone versions.

Fantasy games can turn into real cash. On Distimo’s top 10, the app with the highest all-time average revenue per download was Rage of Bahamut, which gets more than $7.00. “Even though the (IAP) model is successful in all countries, it doesn’t mean that success is guaranteed in all of them,” the report says. An example of this is one of the top revenue generating countries for the Apple App Store for iPhone–Germany–where only 61 percent of revenue was generated from in-app purchases in February 2013. Although the overall approach to data analysis looks quite sound in this report, there is one fairly large gap. Distimo limited its research to revenue generated within the app store, probably because that’s what its tool, AppIQ, focuses on as well. This leaves out ad revenue that could be substantial for a number of apps, depending on whether the developer markets their app or game through an ad network. The study is a good endorsement of IAPs, but the study offers no real guidance on approach–how to offer IAPs as part of the app experience, how to price merchandise and how to nurture a paying customer relationship over the long term.

That’s still something that us mobile game developers will have to figure out on our own.

Freemium or premium? That is the question…or is it?

Mobile games for many years have been simply pastimes which came free on your mobile phone. Back in the day of WAP and Nokia, games like snake etc, where very basic graphically poor (rich in their environment) games came free with your phone. And so they were amazingly successful. The same is said for the most successful computer games every (by game play) which was and is solitaire. A game played by bored office workers the world over.

Smart phones have changed all this and created a multi-billion dollar industry from practically nothing from 5 years ago. Many developers didn’t notice the change, but others made games that were social from their very beginning. Games that went viral, games people shared, games people had to share in order for them to enjoy them fully. This social factor, was built into the very DNA of the companies.

Now the understanding that social is all is also being questioned with many giants of this space, Zygna etc, starting to find that Facebook has a saturation point. And not only that but that the freemium model which many modern mobile games developers take almost as THE given route to market may not be the only way to move the industry forward. That being said , for iOS, freemium provides 65% of top 100 most profitable applications and research shows that approximately half of total mobile gamers download only free games (Mintel, 2012). So the past thinking was simple, create social games, make them free, playable through Facebook and on mobile devices, on which people can buy in app purchases to either save time or become more (status wise.)

However, the issue was / is prolonging freemium customer playtimes. As this is not a simple task to achieve as freemium users tend to switch the games fairly often given that any new games are relatively easy to acquire. Unlike those dedicated premium mobile games produced by console – based developers where the gamers have to pay the price in order to download, freemium gamers do not need to give in any tangible value in return for their everyday freemium games hence will switch the game instantly right when they experience boredom.

Yet, for some social games, the hook is in the social nature of the game, the emotional connection, the very first premise, the ease of understanding and then the platform itself. But it is NOT the same for all platforms as the mobile – game spending pattern between Apple and Android users are completely different. Apple users are more likely to purchase premium games, while Android users are more likely to purchase virtual goods inside the freemium games, for example in-game currency and items that alter character competency or appearance (Guo & Barnes, 2007).

So perhaps it is the combination of Android handsets mass penetration (up some 20% year on year from 2011) along with the fact that Android user is more likely to undergo micro-transaction to enhance their mobile gaming experience, means that developing freemium games on the Android platform might be the optimal pathway for all mobile game developers.

The popularity of ‘Android – Freemium’ combination has attracted game developer to shift focus toward free-to-play business model as evident by the recent decision from ‘FishLabs Entertainment’, a high profile Germany-based developer, to import its masterpiece – premium Galaxy on Fire from iOS to Android as a freemium game.

Interestingly, even in the none game world, like WhatsApp Messenger, which has traditionally always monetized through a $0.99 paid download, adopted a freemium subscription model with its newer Google Play version launched a year ago, where a $0.99 per year subscription kicks in after the first free year has passed.

Could the same be done for our iOS games like Home Bear and SoccerZillionaire – which we have converted into a free mobile download game for a while to celebrate spring in April in the UK. Could bringing these mobile titles into “freemium” for a month with an upgrade afterwards make sense and make us money?

What do you think? What kind of changes are you making to your games?

 

One game or many? The dangers of backing one horse…

With the Grand National just gone, here at dojit we have been thinking about betting and risk. Not betting and gambling, both huge growth areas for mobile phone games, but about how launching a mobile games development house is a bit of a risk. And how perhaps we could all think about this risk.

Is it more risking to launch one game i.e. back one winner based on lots of research in an ever changing market place or launch many, many mini games and learn from the mobile analytical data from each of them to create more success. The difference between one core concept, one narrative, which evolves with know-how and many different creative projects which teach us difference parts of the psychology of our demographic (or perhaps even our core demographic in the first place.)

There seems to be no solid answer to this and if you study the top publishers from Januaray 2013 you see that both tactics have brought success in iOS mobile game development. Companies like Supercell, creating masterful social games full of psychology and high end graphics, in app purchases and upgrades. Whilst companies like NHN and Gree going for the multi development strategy, however, you might be able to argue that the latter could be a symptom of them simply being around for longer and so having a bigger back catalogue.

Personally, I feel that the days of big development are gone. The problem is that the numbers do not back this feeling up presently. In fact, on iOS larger games seem to be doing very well with many of the top ten publishers producing less than 20 games in their entire history – something dojit games wanted to do in a year!


Top Publishers by Monthly Revenue iOS January 2013

Publisher Rank Change
vs. Dec 2012

Category

Headquarters

# of Apps

1

GungHo Online 4

Games

Japan

14

2

Supercell

Games

Finland

2

3

Electronic Arts 2

Games

USA

966

4

Gameloft 1

Games

France

261

5

GREE 1

Games

Japan

114

6

King.com 8

Games

UK

3

7

NHN 1

Various

South Korea

180

8

Kabam 1

Games

USA

8

9

Zynga 3

Games

USA

60

10

Apple 1

Various

USA

19