This is a list of useful resources to help you refine, define, execute and possibly reconsider your decision to enter mobile game development this year. The resources are a little more inclined to the business and game design parts of game development, except for a couple of ones linking other lists.
The executive summary version: It is a very attractive and fast growing market, but the odds are stacked against small, new and indie game developers. Successful games are usually paid, greatly innovative and highly polished casual titles -specially when working with a good publisher or a known brand- or free to play titles that operate as a service, seeing little revenue for a span of at least six months after launch, adding new content and/or further polishing, balancing and optimizing for retention and monetization. The former approach can be a logical step for studios that already have game development expertise, a team already in place and experience working with publishers. The latter is the approach that might yield the greater rewards, but requires a mid to long term vision, and also a tight and strong combination of resources and execution speed to actually pull it off.
What is mobile game development? We’ll consider it as any game focused development for smartphones or tablets running Android or iOS. What does this market look like? Let’s look at some numbers and insights:
- Mobile Gaming Market Projected to Grow at an Annual Rate of 12.3%
- Apple’s app store revenue is 4X Google Play’s … but Google Play is growing 24X faster
- Google Play revenue grew 17%, iOS revenue contracted 0.7% in Nov 2012 but Apple disputes App Annie report: the app store did NOT grow just 13% this year — it grew over 200%
- A $12-Million-A-Month iOS Game? NaturalMotion Has It With CSR Racing
Looks promising, but it’s not all good:
- Some Numbers on the Top Grossing Games in the App Store
- Investors weigh in on falling game-startup valuations
- Analyst: Just 25 Developers Grabbed 50% Of App Revenues On U.S. App Store, Google Play Last Month; Earning $60M Between Them. (also on Venturebeat).
- Sales, Profit And Market Caps: GREE vs. Zynga vs. DeNA (Overview)
- Report: User acquisition costs for iOS shot up 30% last month
So, how to make sense of the opportunity? Is it reasonable? Affordable? Worth pursuing? Let’s start with a list of general projections for gaming on 2013 and summaries for 2012:
- Japanese Gaming Market 2012
- 2012: A Year in App Store (Infographic)
- Social Media Report 2012
- Gamasutra’s Best of 2012
- 2013 Predictions for Mobile Gaming
- What’s Next For Social Mobile Games?
- 7 Predictions For The Mobile Gaming Market For 2013
- The DeanBeat: Game industry predictions for 2013
This is a list of studies, articles and slides worth studying bit by bit to get a clearer picture:
- Internet Trends by KPCB and 2012 KPCB Internet Trends Year-End Update
- How to create a profitable Freemium startup (spreadsheet model included!)
- Casual Games Sector Report: Mobile Gaming
- Acquisition, Retention, Monetization: Final Report
- The Game of Platform Power
Next, a collection of thoughts from established players in the industry:
- Chillingo: Ruthless mobile platform has “no room for anything except perfection”
- The future of mobile games, according to Gree
- Gamers rule: Only 10% of the industry’s $50 billion comes from casuals
- 2012 in review: Doug Scott, ngmoco
Assuming you have a clearer picture now, and you are eager to learn more, what would be good resources to learn about all this?
- Mobile Freemium Games: Women Thrifty, Men Binge
- Three Steps from Paid to Freemium
- Virtual Goods – An Excerpt from Social Game Design: Monetization Methods and Mechanics
- More money from your mobile game for $0, part 1 and part 2
- BII REPORT: The Mobile Advertising Ecosystem Explained
- You Need $100,000 [Game Development]
- What Do Investors Look for in a Game Developer?
- Steve Blank’s List of Tools for Entrepreneurs. (includes technical tools and software)
[Source: Business Insider]
Game Development links
- How does Rage of Bahamut monetizes? Analysing a Top Grossing Game: Rage of Bahamut and How Rage of Bahamut Monetizes.
- Clash of Clans – the Winning Formula
- Free 2 Play and the Four Currencies
- 7 Ways to Fail at Free-to-Play
- The Free-To-Play Triangle [Game Economics]
- The Principles of Game Monetization
- The Design of Free-to-Play Games, Part 2 (Part 1)
- 5 tips for boosting your virtual economy
- Which Types Of Mobile Games Are In The Engagement Sweet Spot?
- The Ultimate Indie Game Developer Resource List (includes technical tools and software)
- The Big List of Game Making Tools (includes technical tools and software)
[Source: What Games Are]
Going live links
- Analytics: Flurry, Kontagent and AppAnnie.
- The long post : metrics and business model.
- ARPU vs ARPPU / ARPMU … but really LTV and CAC / CPA
- The Biggest Problem in Mobile: Retention
- Refining my first monetisation strategy and part 2.
- Managing a Free To Play Product: A Publisher’s Perspective
- Why your free-to-play users aren’t coming back
- 6 tips for a better mobile analytics experience
- How Canada has become America’s mobile app guinea pig
- The Big List of Indie Game Marketing
Last but not least, Blogs, People and Websites worth following.
- Deconstructor of Fun: Monetization in Social Games, written by “the evil monetization guy @ Rovio”.
- Extra Creditz: Not exactly a blog, but lots of fun and thought provoking videos about gaming, game design and game development in general.
- Dr. Serkan Toto: Japan Mobile And Social Games Consulting.
- Andrew Chen’s blog: Great insights about startups in general.
- What Games Are: Great for game design and production.
- Games Brief: Special focus on monetization.
- Dave Sirlin’s blog: Great game design blog.
- Gameconfs: a directory of game industry events.
- Indiebits: Great tips for Indie Game Developers.
- Game Design Concepts and Game Balance Concepts.
- Raph Koster’s blog: The author of Theory of Fun.
People on Twitter: All of them usually share good insights and links about mobile game development
- Devs: Aki Järvinen, Tadhg Kelly, Shawn Foust, Will Luton, Michail Katkoff, Amy Jo Kim, Daniel Cook, Mike Acton, Jesse Schell, Tami Baribeau, Raph Koster.
- Executives: Shanti Bergel, Jussi Laakkonen, Lloyd Melnick, Kevin Dent, Ben Cousins, Charles Hudson, Nabeel Hyatt, Giordano Contestabile, Scott Dodson
- Press and thought leaders: Christian Nutt, Stephen Totilo, Leigh Alexander, Adrian Crook, Dr. Serkan Toto, Nicholas Lovell, Epona Schweer, Allen Varney, Nicole Lazzaro.
Sites: Good for keeping up with trends, news, good games and stuff
I hope all this serves you as a starting point to learn more about your upcoming adventure on mobile gaming this year. Enjoy!
- Time Spent In Mobile Apps Is Starting To Challenge Television, Flurry Says
- All I Want for Christmas Is My Apple TV
- Valve will release PC/console next year
- iPhone And iPad Continue To Reign Over Developer Interest, But Cross-Platform Apps Are Now On Everyone’s Mind
- Stop Trying to Make an Angry Birds. Build a Rovio. Or Supercell. Or move to Finland.
- Rethinking Mobile First.
- 2012 has been ‘the year of mobile’ but the big mobile ad acquisitions were made three years ago