6 Predictions on Mobile Gaming in 2013
The information to follow is a summation of an article that was published earier this week by Eric Savitz over at Forbes.
With that being said, please enjoy these insights as they could save you A LOT of time, money, and effort as you contemplate your next or first release into the Apple App Store or Google Play Market.
Ever since the hit sensation Angry Birds made its debut on the App Store just a few short years ago the world has been comparing the likes of mobile vs console gaming. The majority of people are quick to conlcude that mobile gaming is not as immersive as console and PC games. While that may be true, 2013 could be the year that proves otherwise. Needless to say, in 2012 there was tremendous progress, mainly due to mobile hardware advances, but also to the growth of smartphone adoption (with most now carrying the equivalent of a gaming console around in their pockets).
So what does 2013 really have in store for us?
We’re looking at greater maturation of the mobile gaming industry as it continues to make more money and draw more attention from companies like EA and Disney, Zynga, Rovio, and others to name a few.
- More Closures and Consolidations
With mobile gaming becoming the digital equivalent to a gold rush, driven by the successes like Imangi’s three-person team & Temple Run; developers continue to flood the market hoping to strike it rich with their own mobile hit. As a result, the market is becoming saturated at an incredible rate with cut throat competition and it won’t be long before you see investor $ not come in so easily.
Start-up funding for game companies will reach lows even worse in 2013 than 2012. Indie studios are likely to begin taking on additional contract work (whereas formerly the were just publishing their own). With the rising cost of user acquisition, indie studios will either need to learn how to improve their marketing (which the can do HERE) or choose to publish apps other than games. The acquisitions of 2013 will likely come older more mature companies acquiring underperforming new gaming companies that have fallen on hard times.
- More Sequels and Licensed Games
With the rising cost of development and increased competition we’ll also see the amount of sequels and licensed work jump up significantly. Noting the successes from publishers of: Angry Birds, Ashphalt, Need for Speed, etc.. mobile game developers will begin churning out more sequels.
The risk aversion to game developers will cause the majority of top developers to double down on their existing franchises, causing a sizable ramp up in sequels to existing hits.
Unestablished developers will continue to turn to licensing opportunities to improve their success rates. Large gaming companies like Capcom,Rovio, and EA have seen success by leveraging existing popular brands. We’ll see growth in 2013 in the number of game developers that turn to partnerships with popular existing popular brands for new game launches
- Less Farming Games, More Hardcore and Gambling Games
As seen by Zynga’s post-IPO short comings, casual gaming on both PC and mobile is experiencing serious growing pains. There are 2 main alternatives to consider that Zynga is already looking into: real-money gambling (on mobile) and more hardcore titles.
Because real-money gambling isn’t likely to be legal in the U.S. any time soon, hardcore mobile gaming is a viable and profitable option. It is already estimated at $2 billion in the U.S. and Europe alone. As developers come to understand that hardcore gamers are more dedicated and willing to spend, we’ll see that genre increase significantly.
- Windows 8 is Confusing
No kidding right? After having made the biggest chages to the desktop PC operating system in decades with their release of Windows 8 it wasn’t expected.
We’ll likely see Microsoft shorten their release cycle time (as Apple has recently decided to do) and ship either a large update to Windows 8 or Windows 9 by the end of 2013. We can expect future Windows’ updates to provide stronger billing functionality for game developers and especially around in-app purchasing on Xbox Live tie ins. These enhancements and others will lead to more revenue for game developers.
- Tablets Kill Consoles
In 2012 we saw a lot of companies pop up that were part of the “post-console gaming movement.” More and more it’s looking like the real console-killer is going to be tablets. There are already some very visually stunning games with deep storylines on tablets like Infinity Blade.
Year over year revenues in the console market are shrinking. According to a recent NPD Group report, U.S. video game sales dropped 25% in the month of October, falling from $1 billion to $755.5 million. Conversely, digital sales of games and general spending on mobile and social games rose 7% to $7.24 billion in 2011. The numbers clearly indicate a market shift towards mobile.
- Consoles Fight to Hold Their Ground
Both Sony and Microsoft realize it’s time to put out a new console. With neither company having launched a new system for almost a decade now, they risk losing more market share if nothing is done.
To conclude, I believe that developers who focus on building utilitarian apps that provide true utilitarian value are doing themselves a favor even though it may take longer to get off the ground. Instead of working to create games that will come and come, identifying consumer/user behaviors and how to enhance it through apps is what I think will come back around full circle after the hyper of the industry in its infancy has died down.
If you’re an indie developer, perhaps you should ask yourself if you’re committed to being in this for the long term or not?