Everywhere you look, you see people engulfed in their smartphones, shouts of joy and frustration coming from playing mobile games like Angry Birds, Draw Something and Cut the Rope. In just a few years, mobile gaming has literally exploded into a multi-million dollar industry (the industry is predicted to break 18 billion in total revenue by 2016).
Instead of just being the applications that game developers made because they couldn’t produce something for a console or the computer, mobile gaming now comprises a huge chunk of the gaming sector.
Hardcore gamers are all about the massively expensive computer rigs with eye-popping graphics and console gamers load up their massive TVs, but casual and hardcore gamers alike can be found with their heads buried in the latest mobile game. Even people who don’t really play games are into flinging stylized birds at discolored pigs. Smartphones have successfully turned nearly everyone into a gamer.
Handheld Market Share
Back in the day, the handheld gaming market was cornered by the console makers. While the Nintendo DS and Play Station Portable still have a presence in the market, mobile gaming on smartphones is chipping away at it more and more. Far more people have a smartphone than a DS, after all, and they are always going to have it on them for every-day use.
As the technology in smartphones advances, the complexity and appeal of mobile games continues to grow, utilizing touch screens, hi-definition, and motion sensitive controls. It is more practical for an individual to simply open an application on a phone to play a game for a few minutes than to dive into a highly specialized and complicated one on a separate device.
Branding and Captive Market
Businesses have a variety of options to take advantage of the focus that mobile gaming gives them. First, it doesn’t take as long to develop a mobile game as it does to create an AAA computer game and is much more inexpensive. Where months and years of preparation go into console and computer games, mobile games are intended for short term usage thus can be more simplified and quick to produce.
Branding and product integration is always front and center, and since the game requires interaction their focus will remain on the task at hand. By creating such a simple and identifiable interface, logos, and characters, it is easier for the user to relate and retain the information they have just engaged in. As a result, other doors are opened for further game updates, individual products about the game, and connections to other organizations.
Mobile gaming can turn a profit in a few different ways, by offering the application for an upfront price or through micro transactions. With micro transactions, you offer the game for free or a low cost, then provide the user with ways to purchase in-game items and other content to upgrade gameplay.
Another popular route is to offer up a “lite” version of a game to give users a small taste of the game, but not the entirety. Showcasing the graphics and the game options pulls in the user, but the game ends before too much can be accomplished. Then, to play more, they are redirected to purchasing the full version of the game for a designated price.
When it comes down to generating the bulk of its profit, the mobile gaming and application industry as a whole is centered around the nominal fee idea. Individuals will pay a small price, 0.99 cents or 1.99, for a game or application, and since the cost is so low users almost don’t care to spend it. But, with thousands and millions of users buying the application, alongside micro transactions, the amount adds up to be very lucrative.
Angry Birds: a mobile gaming empire
Rovio, the developers of Angry Birds, went through a lot of flops before they hit upon the mobile gaming success that was Angry Birds. Fifty-one games before they struck gold, in fact. They based Angry Birds off of concept art that had a special appeal and focused their efforts on the iOS application market.
It took some time to gain traction, but the game took off when they created a YouTube trailer, a lite version of the game and got featured on the front page of the app store. From there, Angry Birds captured the hearts and minds of everyone in the mobile gaming world, expanding its branding to clothing, plush toys, books and various other spin off games.
How have they done so well? By providing free updates for the game’s audience, adding hundreds of free levels, and by creating spinoffs such as Seasonal Angry Birds and Angry Bird Space, Rovio has maintained the devotion of a short attention span audience. Remaining in the spotlight of the industry and pushing the boundaries of the game and the system it runs on, Angry Birds has become a massive success, being downloaded over 600 million times and with 30 million active players daily. It’s not hard to see why mobile game development has taken off since the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007.
This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.