2012 in review: David Kim, Animoca
The year when the industry headed east
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.
David Kim is CEO of Android-focused developer Animoca – the studio behind Star Girl and Aqua City, amongst other games.
Pocket Gamer: What do you think was the most significant event for the mobile games industry in 2012?
David Kim: Smartphone penetration in developed western markets is high - over 50 percent in the UK and US - and we think a slowdown in adoption in the west is likely.
Major growth is now coming from markets in Asia, which are newer and less saturated. There are notable high-tech exceptions like South Korea or Hong Kong, where growth is beginning to flatten out, but most of Asia is comprised of emerging markets where the growth potential is extremely attractive.
Japan, although not a developing market, will see astronomical growth in mobile as it is leaves behind the DoCoMo era and joins the rest of the world in smartphone and tablet use. And China… 'nuff said!
What was the most significant event for your company?
We projected to reach 100 million total app downloads in Q1 2013, but by December this year we had already surpassed 115 million downloads and now serve 100 million monthly game sessions.
Our 'Android-first' strategy has been a success so far, establishing Animoca as a major force on Google's platform.
Both iOS and Android platforms have their advantages, but as a publisher it can be more convenient to get stuff done on Android: publishing new apps, issuing content updates and making bug fixes are easier on Android and do not require lengthy waiting periods.
On Android we also have the option of working with resellers like Amazon, who have developed great sub-ecosystems and are highly proficient at marketing to their users.
What was your favourite mobile game of the year?
I'm a fan of all of our own apps - of course - but visually speaking my favorite is Star Girl. it has bling, it has awesome art and style, it has humour.
In terms of innovative gameplay, I really like Avoider, which is a puzzle game where you must move a block through various obstacles to reach your goal, but with a mind-bending catch: your block has a twin that mirrors the movement of the first block so that if you move the first block one inch to the left, the second block will move one inch to the right.
It's not the easiest game to explain, except to say that after playing Avoider your brain feels like it just left the gym. Finally, our Alphabet Car 1 and 2 remain the enduring favorites of the young ones in my life, who enjoy the combination of spelling challenge and trucking around in a customisable vehicle.
What do you predict will be the most important trends in 2013?
Mobile growth in Asia will trounce everything else, of course.
We expect to see maturation of the platform-within-platform in 2013; services like Kakao in Korea or LINE in Japan are already dominant in their markets, but we will see the rise of similar quasi-platforms and social mechanisms in the West.
What's your New Year's resolution and what resolution would you suggest for the industry?
Animoca's New Year resolutions include commitments to become the leaders on Android, double our userbase and continue to make great games.
A possible resolution for the entire industry would be to treat tablet gaming as a legitimate game platform in its own right, and not as a poor cousin of console gaming.
Thanks to David for his time.
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