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.

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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?