Many people think that virality does not exist in mobile gaming, at least not in the manner in which it exists in the online space.
While Papaya agrees virality in mobile is still in its early stages, we do believe there are already examples of successful mobile gaming networks that effectively distribute games through tools such as friend recommendations. These mobile gaming networks can and do provide opportunities for games to go viral.
Unlock the gates
For virality to take place in a mobile social network however, users must have access to clear channels of communication. In other words, there should be minimal barriers to transmission.
Additionally, it is important that mobile game developers understand user behaviour. The more features that users have to share their gaming experiences, the more likely the game will go viral.
Effective social channels currently available on mobile gaming platforms include
- an effective friending system that fully utilizes cell phone features (SMS and offline notification)
- an internal mailing and notification system
- a gifting system
- chat systems
- social forums (with ability to post pictures and videos)
With these channels in place, the gaming social network should manage the frequency with which users keep coming back, for instance by incentivising users to add/make friends in the network and continuously communicate with them. Social games in particular (in contrast to casual games) very effectively serve this purpose.
There are also other innovative tools that can bolster a game's virality, such as group features to encourage group activity or personalisation features to make users better express themselves. Taken together, the stickiness of the social network itself is the core of virality.
Ultimately though, a social network is only as strong as its social graph (the map of every user's relationships) and virality is a strong indicator of the strength of that social graph.
Over time, networks with weak social graphs will fail and those with strong social graphs will thrive.