How social is mobile gaming? How mobile is social?

Sitting on the train going to the next station you see lots of people of all ages on their mobile phones, on their smart phones, probably on mobile apps, most probably playing games. But how many of them are still playing free mobile games which are social in nature? How many more invites to FarmVille or CandyCrush can the world take?

Social for many developers has apparently started to lose its shine. Talking to, many of the UK game developers, as part of the TIGA event in the House of Common’s last month, I realised that apart from the BIG players in the market place the success that Facebook seemed to instantly give creative game developers seems to be on the wane.

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Part of this I believe is that Facebook didn’t move quickly enough into creating a satisfying mobile experience. They and other social networks have for nearly a decade dominated the web. However, it is the combination of the smart phone and tablet mobile device, the technology and the app stores that have created new opportunities for global social experiences that were not possible in the web. But many of the main players realised this too late. As such, this created new business opportunities those developers who are utilizing the camera, real-time sharing, location-based technology and virtual items to reshape social experiences on mobile. Apps like WeChat, LINE, Kakao, Zoosk, Badoo, and Find My Friends are at the forefront of this newfound growth. And some of those publishers are starting to figure out ways to monetize this distribution. But they are doing so often without gaming.

Over the past year, social Networking apps as a category was the third-largest in iOS revenue, up from twelfth one year ago. While revenue growth was seen across all major countries, Japan stood out with a tenfold increase in monthly revenue year-over-year, led by the runaway success of LINE. Whilst In the last year, global revenue growth for social networking apps has outpaced growth of its own downloads as well as revenue for other app categories.

As of January 2013, the Social Networking category ranked third in monthly revenues, behind only Mobile Games and Productivity Apps in the iOS App Store. And that’s up 87% compared to January 2012 monthly revenues, representing 3% of total iOS App Store revenue. Its growth is impressive and nowhere near its ceiling.

But are mobile and social gaming truly mixing and mixing well? iPad Games like Supercell’s “Clash of the Clans” are intrinsically social and make money from in-app purchases after social platforms have given them the launch they need to be viral. Their advertising done by social, they are free to be free, monetising en masse swapping your now invested time for money invested in skipping time – in doing the impossible – becoming god of time – if only in the game and only for one moment. But again how social is this really? How much FarmVille is really played on a truly in your pocket mobile device? Does this increase if the mobile gaming environment this is transferred over to on an iPad? Does it decrease or increase with the time of day you give your “social reward” for actions taken by the user.

Will it make a difference with Facebook’s new move, with Home, trying to take over the home screen of all android mobile phones? Will this finally work out for some mobile game developers the problems of discovery for their game / app? Will Facebook created a PPC version of this to help their monetisation strategy?

Should dojit only be producing mobile phone games, purely for Android, knowing that the changes are coming, or is it just hype as our wise old CTO believes?

From a marketing POV, the stats on where people play casual games for free would be a great thing to have. Especially for marketing our new releases like Home Bear and Soccer Zillionaire, as I know that people spend longer on apps in iPads and click on more adverts and buy more stuff when they do. But games wise, right now, we are rather unsociably in the dark.

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