2013 predictions: The PocketGamer.biz Mobile Gaming Mavens on mobile's big year
Mapping out the next 12 months
The PocketGamer.biz Mobile Mavens is our panel of experts drawn from all sectors of the mobile gaming industry.
The new year is here, and so now it's time to look ahead – something we've already done on PocketGamer.biz.
With that in mind – and with the prospect of a new Xbox likely to tap into Microsoft's mobile and tablet platforms, the likely launch of an app-equipped Apple TV and Android consoles launching aplenty – we asked the Mavens:
What predictions can you make for 2013? What will be the big trends, what companies will fall away, and how will the mobile industry look at this time next year?
Will Luton, Doctor Monolith
Overall, mobile will grow: More devices, more players, more money. But it will be less evenly distributed.
For the last couple of years, people have said to me: "It'll be a tough year for indies" and I didn't think they were right. This year, however, as Keith hints at in the question, I think lots of teams will unfortunately run out of steam.
Those that are yet to have big success or a steady base of work for hire will be lucky to see 2013 through.
That's a lot of doom and gloom, but I also think the big will get bigger and better. We'll see lots of successful AAA studios - or at least their employees - making the transition to mobile as production quality and budgets rise in F2P.
This time next year will look at lot like now, but with fewer of the smaller players, the odd bit of merger and acquisitions and a few more blockbuster F2P titles - and perhaps a couple 99¢ ones too.
I'll take a punt too: I think we could start to see Sony and Microsoft's home console market serious undermined by something unexpected or, in the case of Apple, semi-expected.
The Ouya, GameStick and Nvidia Shield are all indications that companies are ready to challenge them and there's seemingly a consumer desire. I imagine mobile tech to somehow be embroiled.
Brian Robbins, Riptide Games
I largely agree with Will on this.
I don't think 2013 will see anything groundbreaking, but I do believe it's going to be the year that we start to see Sony and Microsoft experience a very serious decline in the traditional console space, largely driven by mobile.
I also think it will be the year that Apple noticeably loses its commanding share of the marketplace. I still think Apple is going to be the dominant player in terms of revenue to developers, but Android is finally going to drive a significant amount of revenue, and all of the big players will be shipping cross platform titles.
The biggest unknown for me is going to be whether Microsoft's tablet stuff manages to take off, or languishes without making an impact.
This will be the year for it to happen, and if it does, the install base of the PC platform will become a huge driver. However, my guess is that it won't take off but will just continue to chip away at the edges of the tablet space.
Oscar Clark, Applifier
The only certainty is, of course, change...
I agree the game space will get more competitive - as Will has described - and I think the platforms who will win that will have to grapple with the conundrum of handheld (personal screen) and TV (shared screen) behaviour.
Ironically, this should have been Sony's home territory, but sadly I think it is still stuck with larger problems. SmartGlass and Nvidia Shield could be very interesting, but I'm still not sure Apple really understands games - although of course I'd never really bet against it.
The advertising/discovery problem - i.e. ever increasing difficulty to attract an audience - will continue to get harder but that's ok, because "necessity" is the mother of invention and as a result we we see new techniques in marketing, not just advertising.
I think video will play a major part in these new techniques, including user-generated video like we have with Everyplay; capturing and sharing your best moments of play. But there will need to be a wider consideration of where and how we can find and communicate with our playing audience.
I also think this will have a marked impact on quality as well. The cost of production will go up and require (slightly) larger teams to achieve and I suspect this will lead to something like a publisher revival - although perhaps with slightly different rules and players than we had seen in previous consolidations of the games industry.
So for me, 2013 will be unlucky for some, but I am sure we will see some amazing breakthrough content - especially in the realm of the "second screen".
John Ozimek, Dimoso
I don't see 2013 as a year where mobile challenges the home console business. For all the advances of mobile games, nothing offers the immersion, graphical grunt or co-operative brilliance of console (and PC) gaming.
The big franchises will continue to dominate for years to come; nobody is suddenly going to say "this mobile version of Call of Duty is much better than on PS3, I'll never buy another console game".
I also don't buy the delineation of mobile screen as personal and TV as some mythical 'shared' experience. TV is only a shared screen device when people choose to use it as such; just check the statistics on homes with multiple TVs, and you'll see that TV usage is just as 'personal' as a tablet or mobile wants to be.
Any shift in home usage will likely come from the use of tablets and mobiles as a second screen device, further eroding our puny attention spans.
I do think that mobile will disrupt the consoles' attempt at indie publishing, though. I'd love to know if the revenues from the mobile versions of games like Lost Winds and Bastion have outstripped earnings of the XBLA versions, and certainly it seems as though mobile is a simpler and cheaper platform for indies to publish for - though not necessarily to develop for.
So I can see 2013 being a year where developers choose mobile as the preferred platform, leaving console as the home of the hardcore juggernaut franchises and first party titles.
I see 2013 as a year where mobile app discovery gets harder and harder, but I don't see any quick fixes emerging. Maybe the rising cost of driving traffic to the app store, whether through incentivised downloads or CPC/CPA/CPI advertising, will prompt Apple and Google to do something about it, but that's a vague hope.
What I do think is certain is that it's going to be the cost of promotion and acquisition, rather than the cost of development, that is going to drive developers off the stores in increasing numbers. There simply isn't the room for anything less than a really good quality app - and that's a good thing for consumers.
I'd also like to think that 2013 will be the year of less freemium, more premium.
Before Oscar's head explodes, I don't want to see an end to freemium; done well, it is a great experience and a good revenue model (just ask Supercell).
Nonetheless, I would love to see those freemium titles that do everything except march you down to a cashpoint at gunpoint in order to get your cash disappear from the app stores - to me, they are this generation's Crazy Frog.
Instead, I'd like to see developers who are creating great apps and who prefer the premium model to be able to charge a fair price for them, and not feel they have to enter a race to 69p or lower. We must address the concept of value that seems to have become incredibly skewed.
Finally, I think we'll see consolidation between the social and mobile games industries, as more companies see better returns from mobile over Facebook.
Zynga started this, and the rising number of social companies launching mobile titles makes deals in this space logical, even if it's only as a means to acquire successful IP that helps to grow the installed base of those companies - again, something we saw in 2012 with Zynga, GREE and DeNa doing plenty of deals.
Of course, I'm probably 100 percent wrong, as if I could predict stuff like this I'd be rich and successful by now.
Jussi Laakkonen, Applifier
The biggest trends I believe will shape 2013 are couch gaming, Android and maturing markets.
Tablets will emerge as a real contender for the crown of couch gaming.
The install base growth, relentless CPU & GPU performance improvement and rapidly rising quality of games, especially with the influx of former AAA console developers, all drive very rapid growth during a year which the true next-gen consoles will be still missing in action while Wii U will only attract the Nintendo faithfuls.
By the end of year, we may have the "the Halo of iPad" as Ben Cousins heading ngmoco Sweden and Alex Seropian at Industrial Toys aim to crack the first person shooter control scheme for touch with The Drowning.
We'll see more attempts to bring console gaming genres and quality to the market, and some will succeed and truly advance the state of the art.
Android's growth continues to accelerate and games will reach revenue per unit parity with iOS, probably. We'll see several great Android tablets now that Google has shown the way with Nexus 7 and 10. Multi-platform development will be a must for all major games and this too will raise the costs.
The market is maturing, with the costs of developing and launching a new game will grow rapidly during 2013. Players will benefit from rapidly increasing game quality and over-abundance of choice, but it will be increasingly hard for developers to get their games noticed. The ecosystem will innovative and find ways to break through the noise.
We'll see new approaches emerge beyond straight-up advertising and I personally believe in the power of giving the tools of self-expression to the players to let them show their friends and fans why they love your game.
Brian Robbins, Riptide Games
Don't get me wrong, I don't expect mobile to take over the areas that the consoles currently "own" - big franchise sports games like Madden, and FPS shooters.
I think this is the year that most of the industry realises that games are much more than those two specific areas, and that tablets especially are increasingly the place to get your gaming fix.
So its not that I see the consoles dying, they aren't going to go away for a long time to come, I just don't see that as the cornerstone of the industry any more.
Further, even the traditional console players are going to start getting crowded out of that space with Ouya, Gamestick, the Valve PC thing, etc.
Scott Foe, GameFace.me
While tablet-only gaming and real money gambling are going to continue trending upward, I think it gross to ignore the greatest gaming tragedy of 2012 - the world really did end in December - for NBA Jam!
In an attempt to stay competitive with 2K Sports, Electronic Arts moved its basketball resources to focus on its main NBA title, deigning not to ship a version of the ever-awesome NBA Jam in 2012.
No video game is so ingrained in basketball culture than NBA Jam, and a real opportunity is being missed. Let us all join hands and pray that Electronic Arts brings the greatest sports title ever assembled back for 2013.
"He's on fire! BOOM shakalaka!"
Graeme Devine, GRL Games
2013 may be the year we finally kill video games.
I think we've got a perfect storm of games moving into the background of other apps (Nike Fuel, Foursquare etc.), games themselves becoming extremely derivative, and platforms that while – OMG - are ever so powerful, are also so fragmented that we find ourselves making an executable for the 3GS, iPad 1, iPad 4th Generation, and iPhone 5 all in one bundle and Android and it's multitudes in the other.
Windows is advertising Angry Birds: Star Wars as the reason you need a PC and everyone wants their highly monetising card game out asap.
It may also be the year a new platform shines. Somewhere, someone is working on AppStore 2.0, the app store that fixes some of the discovery issues we have with ALL media (not just games).
iTunes is a big monolith waiting to be re-invented and when we see that it will be shockingly obvious and easy to use.
We've made the player the product, and unhappily, we're proud of it. We need to need to reverse that trend in 2013.
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PixelP | 00:52 - 16 January 2013
I think we will see more gamer type games like Atomic 2Dplatformer for iphone. The casual games are and will steadily produce less revenue.
William Volk | 00:29 - 16 January 2013
I don't think the AAA Console business is going away. It's just going to be Activision and whom ever else survives the shakeout that is happing.
In mobile the quality bar is historically high. You have to be INCREDIBLE to succeed now. Merely competent won't matter.
The classic handhelds are going to suffer or even go away.
Android will have the numbers, iOS will have the revenue. The rest? Not likely.
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