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? 

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