As it becomes easier to access all kinds of games via mobile apps, the popularity of mobile gaming seems set to go through the roof. According to the report issued by App Annie Index: Market Q3 2014, games generate the most money out of all mobile apps, with Apple reporting that 9 out of 10 grossing apps in 2014 were games, and this figure is set to grow throughout 2015.
However, despite the popularity and money spent on gaming apps, it seems that users are increasingly expecting to get their games for free. Current research from Newzo, shows that despite the enormous sums of money generated by the sales of mobile games, and despite the fact that 90% of revenue was generated from free-to-play titles, only 2.2% of users ever part with money in free-to-play games.
Moreover, it appears that the most popular games are published by just a couple of big players in the market (King and Supercell) who, between them, own nearly 50% of the top ten grossing mobile apps in the United States. And just to give you an idea of their dominance, over 80% of the 1.2 million apps available in the App Store weren’t downloaded even once.
So how do small players even get into the market?
It seems that there has to be a new approach to marketing games if independent gamers have a chance of getting a foot into the market and getting their apps in front of the users. Some gamers are now returning to technology such as HTML5, and offering their games via various distribution networks. By using this medium they can offer games with a few free levels without the users having to actually download the app at all. If the players decide that they like the game, they can install the full version via an app store. This is made possible via a link which is given to them at the ‘game over’ stage. The game developer is only charged by the distribution network when the app is downloaded.
Other ways to get new games into the public eye is via social video services, such as YouTube and Twitch, where ‘Let’s Players’, stream their game play online. It’s becoming increasingly important for game developers to establish relationships with popular Let’s Players, especially as some of these broadcast to millions of subscribers. Getting an established Let’s Player to promote a game is a sure fire way to lift its profile.
Finding alternative mobile platforms
While Americans and Europeans prefer traditional mobile app stores, the success of Kakao Talk in South Korea has shown that alternative mobile app platforms offer an increasingly popular way to promote new games. With the launch of Viber Games, a marketplace for mobile games, in late 2014 / early 2015, two new free-to-play games became available with revenue coming from in-app purchases inside those games.
For those people who prefer to play casino and bingo games, the number of mobile bingo sites is also increasing, with some of the best brands in the UK joining in the party. Over the past few years there’s been some interesting developments to accommodate the demand for such games, with most brands optimising their sites for mobile use. They’ve also found ways to encourage new and existing players, with bonuses such as free spins, vouchers and guaranteed prizes – a technique which is proving to be extremely popular with the players.