Mobile: The future of the gaming industry

Mobile games are quickly becoming the most significant part of the gaming industry, where traditionally gaming has been thought of in terms of PCs and consoles like Playstation, Xbox or Wii. In fact, mobile games are set to overtake console gaming in revenue for the first time this year. While mobile games used to be defined by their limitations: small screens, less controls and limited graphics, they have evolved into the next frontier of gaming. Mobile games are now played on smartphones and tablets, and they can look and feel as beautiful and engaging as PC and console games.

With the rise of mobile games, the number of gamers has skyrocketed to almost 1 billion. Free-to-play mobile games, also known as “freemium” games, bring in 46% of all mobile gaming revenue according to Swrve. Freemium is free to download and install, so revenue comes from in-app purchases during game play. What’s more incredible is that only 2.2% of mobile gamers actually make in-app purchases, so just a small segment of gamers brings in almost half of mobile games’ total revenue. This poses an interesting business model for game developers. Although freemium developers do not make money on game downloads, they can capitalize on in-app purchases to generate maximum ROI. So, developers must make games that quickly and easily engage viewers so they feel invested in and trust the game. First-time purchases within the game should be easy, so users will be more willing to make a small purchase with little commitment. This will make a bigger purchase down the road much more likely. Freemium games are expected to generate almost $14 billion in revenue this year.

While freemium is an extremely successful business model, pay-to-play mobile games are valued among “hardcore” gamers. There is an interesting dichotomy between free-to-play and pay-to-play for mobile games: freemium are games for everyone, while pay-to-play are more for game connoisseurs. Hardcore gamers sometimes feel that freemium games are cheap “moneygrabs” and prefer to pay for more artfully crafted mobile games. VentureBeat, Cnet, IGN and Polygon named their favorite mobile games, and most of them were not freemium games. Some of these games didn’t even start out as mobile games –some are PC or console games modified for the mobile. For example, Hitman Go is named a top ten mobile game by the above four companies, but it has been adapted from the popular Hitman console game series. Monument Valley is one of the most popular pay-to-play mobile games ($3.99 at the App Store and Google Play), and was a winner of the Apple Design Award in 2014. Monument Valley is an interactive puzzle game, where you guide a white-robed character around beautifully designed M.C. Escher-like structures set in mystical and artfully colored dream worlds. While the freemium business model heavily influences the mobile games industry, it is nuanced with games played across several channels as well as artfully crafted inherently mobile games.

This article was written by Nikki Dance, PR & Marketing Executive on March 4, 2015.

Nikki DanceComment