The mobile gaming boom continues unabated. A recent survey for PopCap found that 125 million people were playing games on handheld devices across the UK and US. SuperData Research says the mobile gaming market will be worth £4.8 billion by 2015 – almost three times today’s value.
There is no shortage of good news. There are more players, more revenues at stake, widening demographics, and more opportunities for play than ever before. The explosion of mobile and tablet devices means gaming has gone from being a living room pursuit to something people do everywhere.
The 2012 PopCap Games Mobile Games Research report finds that gamers are still most likely to play on the sofa – 69 per cent of those surveyed said so. But 63 per cent are now also playing in cars, or on the bus or train. More than half play lying in bed or waiting for an appointment; 41 per cent play while watching TV.
With expansion, however, comes greater complexity. In the old days, developing games was mainly a matter of making something good in the hope that people would be prepared to pay for it. Today, monetisation is more sophisticated, and competition much fiercer.
The big studios and publishers that once focused on consoles are no longer happy to leave the mobile field open to small indies, flexing marketing muscle and introducing new business models. In the process, they are opening up the market even further, but complicating things for smaller rivals.
As Oli Christie, CEO of UK indie Neon Play, puts it: “In less than five years, your iPhone or your iPad will be console-quality in terms of the graphics and processing power – you won’t need a console any more. Everyone will have a smartphone and a tablet, and there will be a multi-billion dollar mobile gaming market.”
The challenge, then, will be to make the most of this new, more disparate environment. Is the future in free-to-play, in-game advertising, subscriptions, paid apps, or some hybrid combination of them all? Which platforms are going to remain dominant, and what new technologies might appear, changing everything yet again?
These strategic questions are on the agenda at Mobile Gaming Europe inLondonnext month, which seeks to help delegates understand how to better engage and monetise players. Speakers include Gareth Edmonson, the former MD of Ubisoft Reflections now heading up Thumbstar Games; Kyoko Matsushita of Japanese social gaming company Gree; Teemu Huuhtanen from Angry Birds developer Rovio; and Andrew Smith of Spilt Milk. Also scheduled to appear are the likes of Flurry, Big Fish, Ubisoft and Blitz Games Studios.
Some of the biggest studios and publishers in the industry will be in attendance at the event, which runs on December 6 and 7 at the Regents Park Marriott Hotel in London. For more, visit the Mobile Gaming Europe website.