2020 will be a year that lives long in many people's memories, for better and for worse. Thankfully, there have been some fantastic experiences on mobile to help us all through these particularly trying times.
The games industry is thriving despite the devastating effects of COVID, and the mobile sector has also seen extraordinary growth this year. Games have undeniably been a force for good under unprecedented circumstances.
With that, we've reached out to several members of the industry for their insight, thoughts and personal experiences throughout 2020. We're on a mission to discover favourite mobile games, how has the industry coped under the pandemic, and what we could see in 2021 and beyond.
This time, we're catching up with Peggy Anne Salz, founder and chief analyst at Mobile Groove.
PocketGamer.biz: What do you think was the biggest news or event for the mobile games industry in 2020?
Peggy Anne Salz: The biggest event was the accelerated shift to baking retention mechanics and rewarded ad formats into the fabric of games from the get-go. The approach isn't new, but the urgency is. Confined to our homes, we may be playing games in record numbers, but we are also spoiled for choice.
Rising above the noise is about finding smart ways to acquire users and keep them coming back. It's here that companies, including Viker and Rovio, are shifting mindsets and building teams to design for retention, using narratives, storytelling and incentives to keep players engaged.
Rising above the noise is about finding smart ways to acquire users and keep them coming back
Which mobile game do you think had the biggest impact on the industry this year?
Fortnite and Epic Games – but not for gameplay. They are the pioneers of a new approach that wrests the power of distribution from the app stores and puts it in the hands of smart games companies with the scale and vision to follow the blueprint. In an age of disruption, the decision in December of the Epic Games store to feature the Spotify app democratises access.
It also allows gaming companies to expand their business models and change the rules. We will remember 2020 as a milestone year in the battle to allow developers to process their own payments and circumvent giving 30 per cent of all in-app revenue to the store owner. It's a cut that developers won't want to pay – and many won't be able to – in a market sure to be hit by a global recession that will rock all industries, not just gaming, to their foundation.
In terms of your company, what's the thing you're most proud of during 2020?
This year forced many to rewrite the marketing playbook and learn new ways to set themselves and their teams up for success – especially in a WFH environment. This is something you can't do alone. So, I am proud that through my interviews, articles and moderation on PGC panels, I could highlight best practices and spotlight the marketing ninjas leading the charge to a retention-first, product-led approach to making and marketing amazing games.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
I look forward to continuing to educate the market and elevate the discussion. Gaming isn't just about games anymore. The opportunities to deliver commerce, communications and more are astounding, and I want to help gaming companies understand and wield the tremendous influence and opportunities that are well within their grasp.