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Why mobile game devs should be thinking about streaming

Why mobile game devs should be thinking about streaming

Pepe Agell is the VP of business at Chartboost.

This article is part of an ongoing partnership with Chartboost. You can read more of its advice in terms finding new players and monetising audience via its Playbook blog.

If people love a game, they'll play it. But if they really love a game, they'll watch it, too.

While the growing live streaming phenomenon has traditionally been associated with console and PC gaming, people increasingly want to watch the mobile games they love.

Embracing the potential of live streaming is a great way for mobile devs to help build a community around their title, acquire new users and perhaps even nudge that stubborn retention stat in the right direction.

With more than 100 million users, Amazon-owned Twitch is leading the live streaming charge. According to Brooke Van Dusen, the director of game developer success at Twitch, over a third of Twitch views are made on mobile devices.

And its user base continues to grow since it launched in 2011 - with users able to watch their favorite mobile games and discover new titles.

Factor in the availability of other dedicated mobile solutions like Mobcrush and Kamcord - and Apple including the streaming-friendly ReplayKit in iOS 10 - and it's a great time to think about the potential of mobile live streaming.

Tuning in to mobile

Since 2015, the popularity of mobile-only games on Twitch has increased five times, says Van Dusen. And that's not counting popular cross-platform titles like Hearthstone.

Much of this increase has been driven by Vainglory, the mobile MOBA which heralded the rise of mobile live streaming in 2015.

Fast-forward to 2016 and Supercell's Clash Royale is proving to be super popular on Twitch, as well. But influencers are also streaming games that don't scream “broadcast me".

Titles like Pokemon GO, which people are sharing using unwieldy but inventive two-phone set-ups (one for the game and one for an on-the-go selfie), have been watched with more fervor.

If a mobile game is interesting enough, someone will be streaming it - and others will be watching.

Twitch streamer Deadpooly plays Pokemon GO

Live streaming as marketing

Live streaming is a powerful, often untapped, marketing tool. The data scientists at Twitch looked at gamers with connected Steam accounts and found that around 30% of sales for certain PC titles - like Punch Club and The Culling - could be directly attributed to Twitch views (people seeing the game and then buying it).

Van Dusen says it's safe to assume that Twitch can also drive mobile installs in the same way.

What's more, users who watch their favorite games on Twitch are more likely to keep playing them. On average, watching on Twitch makes a user three percent more likely to play that game again the next week.

For certain multiplayer titles (like Team Fortress 2) that figure's even higher (as much as 30%). Still, three percent compounded week-on-week and can add up.

A screenshot of Vainglory in action

Building a community

What live streaming does so well is cut through the noise of the app stores and allow the community to drive discoverability and long-term engagement.

According to Mobcrush Co-Founder and CEO Royce Disini, the latest generation of mobile gamers don't want to rely on Apple or Google to tell them what to play: "They want to hear what to play from their friends and from people they respect," he says.

Live streaming platform Mobcrush

For devs, investing time in the streaming community can bring powerful returns.

Supercell has been extremely active on Twitch, promoting and supporting independent Clash Royale streamers and running their own community-focused streams, and it's paid off handsomely with a small army of hobbyist and full-time streamers acting as Clash Royale evangelists.

And it's not just the broadcasters with big subscriber numbers that can help boost a mobile title like Clash Royale. Mid-tier Twitch broadcasters - getting between 33 and 3,333 concurrent views - actually drive almost half of all game sales attributed to Twitch watching.

Despite smaller subscriber numbers, viewers often feel closer to mid-tier broadcasters, remaining more engaged and trusting their judgement.

And there are many ways that mobile devs can support these guys and get them on board - like giving them in-game promotions, Twitter call-outs, sharing in-game content or just dropping by their channel to chat.

“This is something that can't be bought," said Van Dusen. “You can buy views. You can pay streamers to play your game, and as a result of that you can get UA. But turning players into fans is something you can only do through community investment.”

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