Eric Seufert of Mobile Dev Memo has highlighted three trends that he believes will shape the mobile game landscape in 2015, and outlined how developers can capitalise on these shifts with regards to UA and brand building.
Christening them "megatrends," Seufert told PocketGamer.biz how this trend triumverate could present new opportunities for small developers who can use their size to their advantage - paying attention to key shifts in the industry and quickly taking advantage of new opportunities.
"Large developers are slower to react to new channels, for a variety of reasons," he says.
"Small developers don't have the baggage of legacy marketing infrastructure, territory-defending VPs, long-term contracts for thirdparty tools, etc.
"They can use their size as an advantage, so they should avoid taking advice about paid UA from big developers at conferences and instead look for opportunities to avoid directly competing against them."
So what are these opportunities, or megatrends, that smaller developers can capitalise on?
1. UA goes alternative
First, he says, "I believe we'll see some 'company-building' alternative, community-driven UA channels emerge in 2015.
I believe we'll see some 'company-building' alternative, community-driven UA channels emerge in 2015.Eric Seufert
"I think this will disproportionately benefit smaller developers and could potentially be the 'sine qua non' of a new developer (as in, had never been there before) reaching the Top 10 grossing chart."
He points to Twitter as an example where smaller studios have benefitted from this approach in the past.
Here, "the small developers that were quick to integrate Twitter into their media mix when its App Install Card product was still in beta were rewarded with large volumes of very, very cheap installs.
Obviously average CPMs have risen on that product now and those prices weren't sustainable, but those users were acquired and possibly used to cross-promote later launches by the lucky few who acted quickly."
2. Big UA goes defensive
The second trend could be more of a threat to indie devs, as "big developers may start weaponizing their balance sheets."
In other words, "they could buy up inventory ahead of big releases to keep marketing costs high for other companies and deter competition. This also plays into the increased importance in cross promotion for big releases."
Seufert has written of these cross-promotional tactics before, highlighting how companies like King use the clout of titles like Candy Crush Soda Saga to boost the user bases of its lesser-known titles.
However, he encourages smaller developers to not try and compete directly with these big budgets and titles and instead exploit new UA channels.
"If you sit down at a poker table with $1,000 in chips and play against someone with $1 million in chips, are you genuinely competing, or are you just hoping that something very lucky happens?"
3. Brand advertising comes to mobile
The final megatrend relates to an increase in mobile advertising by big brands and non-gaming apps.
Seufert believes that in the latter half of 2015 this will precipitate a "transformative change in mobile ad formats," and attributes a "chicken-and-egg-impasse" as the reason big brands and non-gaming apps have so far been hesitant to invest in mobile.
"Since mobile ad formats were mostly architected for use by gaming companies, no appropriate ad format existed to justify investment by non-gaming companies, and thus ad networks had no incentive to invest in developing new formats," he explains.
You can see Eric's full presentation from Pocket Gamer Connects London 2015 below.