Interview

2012 in review: Bart Decrem, Disney Mobile

2012 in review: Bart Decrem, Disney Mobile
As we consider the trends of the past 12 months and look forward to the next 12 months, we've asked the great and the good in the mobile gaming industry for their opinions.

Bart Decrem is SVP and GM of Disney Mobile Games.

Pocket Gamer: What do you think was the most significant event for the mobile games industry in 2012?

Bart Decrem: 2012 has been a big year for mobile gaming.

Freemium and in-app commerce have taken over the top grossing charts. Android has become an important part of the business. App revenues now exceed $30 billion - nearly double year-over-year.

We're now seeing markets, like India, where mobile internet usage has overtaken desktop internet usage. In the US, smartphone users now spend as much time in apps as on the web. Tablet adoption has exploded.

So smartphones and tablets are taking over, and gaming is a huge part of what people do on these devices.

The business models and dominant categories are always evolving, but one thing I love, especially on the App Store, is that the best apps still rise to the top. Featuring by Apple and others is of course a big deal, but people love their iDevices and show their friends what they're doing - virality at its best!

What was the most significant event for your company?

It's been a good year for Disney on the app stores! We had five number one hits and in mid-year occupied the top three paid slots on the App Store.

Where's My Water? is now well established as one of the biggest smartphone and tablet games. Our network engagement grew six-fold. In addition to building awesome games in-house, I'm really proud of our collaborations with independent game-makers like Imangi and Get Set Games.

In sum, we are one of the leaders in smartphone and tablet gaming, certainly among media companies.

What was your favorite mobile game of the year?

Temple Run. The game took over the App Store a year ago with its clean, fresh, addictive gameplay.

I've stayed hooked on it, and predict that the game is a 'new classic' that will be a big part of smartphone gaming for years to come.

What do you predict will be the most important trends in 2013?

Last year we predicted that free-to-play would become the dominant model on the App Store, across all gaming genres. That's pretty much what happened - and it won't change in 2013.

Here's what we see for the year ahead.

First, tablet adoption will continue to rise. 29 percent of US adults now own tablets, iPad adoption is happening at three times the rate of iPhone adoption, and Android tablets are taking off as well. Tablet gaming will become a much bigger deal.

Second, Android will continue to its phenomenal growth and is fully a tier-one platform - increasingly it will be the dominant platform especially in markets beyond the US.

Third, the nuances around SKUing, devices (smartphones vs tablets), demographics, gameplay categories, business models, etc. will becoming increasingly critical to publishers' success. You can't think of this as a monolithic 'smart platform' to win, you will need to understand the nuances of the different geographies, stores and device platforms and adapt your strategies and offerings accordingly.

What's your New Year's resolution and what resolution would you suggest for the industry?

The true gems still rise to the top of the smartphone and tablet charts. And on platforms where most apps are 'consumable' (in the YouTube sense: you watch a video, then you watch the next one...), I firmly believe that, when you've got a big hit that has evergreen potential, you really have to make the most of that and develop a franchise plan.

What I don't like is the grind of the charts - where so many of the top performing games are uninspired entries into winning categories, knock-offs and me-too products.

These devices are amazing new canvases, and we're still in the early days of figuring out how to paint on them - how to bring characters and worlds and entertainment experiences to life...

And for the first time, everyone's a gamer. What an amazing opportunity! Let's not let this moment pass - let's invent the future and build awesome fun experiences!

Thanks to Bart for his time.

editor-at-large

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at PG.biz which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.

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