Yes, it's true. We're already halfway through 2015.
Closer to Christmas than away from it etc etc
So we asked our Mavens...
What have been your standout moments, trends or games during 2015 so far?
And, what are you hoping for, or expecting in the second half of the year?
...Is the 2015 glass half full or half empty?
For me, one of the glasses is empty (in a good way!) when particular mechanics is 'exhausted'.
It feels so with rogue-likes: this year is blessed with them, played so many of nice ones recently, both on Steam and mobile, this week I played Enchanted Cave 2 and Sproggiwood both are very good.
And I think I won't be looking for more of those at this point.
But some other glasses were never filled enough or even discovered.
I'm working on filling one of those, but I can't make myself a grand strategy or proper 4X space game or better and deeper FTL or not a tiny shelter management game or new interesting co-op mechanics.
I think the curated feature lists on the Apple App Store has changed the game for app promotion, so to speak.
Moving from the download volume based lists "New," "What's Hot," and "All iPhone (Free & Paid)" to the editorially curated lists "Best New Games" and "All Time Greats," makes the typical 'burst' tactic less effective.
It's no surprise that recognized brands and titles are dominating the charts.William D. Volk
For many games, getting that feature IS the best marketing strategy, as only the most effective (at getting users to spend) free-to-play games can afford the high CPI (exceeding $2) we see today.
Given all of these changes, it's no surprise that recognized brands and titles are dominating the charts. We're also starting to see more triple-A games being moved from consoles, such as the reboot of Mortal Kombat.
On the Apple Watch, it appears Apple won't address the lack of app discovery (in the Companion App App Store) until the next OS revision with "native apps" appear in the fall.
As it stands right now, if you're not one of the dozen or so games that was featured, users are not going to find you.
Updates for Fallout Shelter
You hear me Bethesda? You drop this mobile stuff and I'm coming for you...
Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.
Personally, William I think that the shift to editorially curated lists is a great thing (potentially) although we are still seeing the 'same suspects' far too often.
As I have said many times the downloads-based lists serve only the developers already in those lists or with the deepest pockets and in my own experience reduced overall revenue for the store owner.
This must be ever more the case in this era of vast oversupply of content!
That being said I also don't want to see an end to social discovery (which is the risk with collated content), but as long as the App Store teams remain committed games aficionados this change at least means if we make a great game we have a fighting chance!
I do believe that Apple (and to an extent) Google have made some great advances in their retailing options but I still feel there is room to go. Not least making the page personal to my needs or at least showing me new stuff every time I go back to it.
To be honest though, if I was designing a retail store right now, I'd be treating it more as a personalised life-style magazine rather than a list of apps something we can all dip into when we have a spare moment and occasionally find a new gem - but then that's me.
There are other ways to be successful than with a knock-off version of Candy Crush or Clash of Clans.Oscar Clark
Any we probably still need some kind of social discovery mechanism too.
What's interesting to me trend-wise however, is how developers are reaching out to audiences through other means.
Finding YouTubers, Video Ads, external communities, use of brands, etc. Even TV campaigns!
That's interesting to me. Its a real boon for trained marketeers like me that we are at last recognising that there is a full palette of tools out there for us to deploy and that building brand recognition is important in the long run, just as precision User Acquisition is essential in the short term.
I also think that Fallout Shelter (why am I still playing it????) and Crossy Road have shown us that there are other ways to be successful than with a knock-off version of Candy Crush or Clash of Clans.
I recently did a bunch of research on IAP for a webinar and was astounded by quite how many of these clones are filling up the top 200 grossing.
I don't think that's healthy for the industry and suspect (although I can't prove it) that this is slowly depreciating the number of players willing to spend. We used to talk about 5-10% paying now we are talking 1-2% despite all the data capture and design insight available now.
These new approaches give me hope. They show that there is still a value in making better games; not just reskinning money generating tools.
p.s. Brian is right… Bethesda need to get on with a pipeline of updates… I am going to hit 200 inhabitants soon! eek!
Tony’s career has covered the whole spectrum from AAA console to handheld, mobile and flash titles, working on huge franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Call of Duty.
In 2015 he founded Ant Workshop to develop his own titles and to offer his experience as a design consultant.
What I'm hoping for is an increase in personalised discoverability, as Oscar says.
Having been skeptical of the "point" of Apple Music, I've got to say that I find its radio stations and recommendations of stuff I should listen to pretty much bang on.
What I'm hoping for is an increase in personalised discoverability.Tony Gowland
Imagine if Apple did something similar for games where they took basic analytics from your device to tell what games you spent the most time playing, and recommended you stuff that you haven't already got but that was popular with people who like what you like?
I'm also expecting to see a few more big publishers, having seen Fallout Shelter (and previously things like Hitman Go), try making actual mobile games for mobile platforms using their IP.
(Though just as likely, we'll see them bring out a larger number of "me too" simple base-builders that use the exact same monetisation, but tank as they're nowhere nearly as well suited to the IP)
And speaking of "me too" - how many very minor variations on the Clash of Clans formula are we going to keep seeing every week?
Fallout Shelter - a strong market validation of the presence and the hunger of hardcore gamers on mobile.Scott Foe
Without a doubt, the standout mobile moment of 2015 so far has been the shock and awe Fallout Shelter announcement, followed by Fallout Shelter's climb of the charts, which served as justification for all of the relatively recent investment capital flowing into hardcore gaming on mobile and strong market validation of the presence and the hunger of hardcore gamers on mobile, estimated at being an audience of roughly 200 million, which eclipses the install base of the PlayStation 2, which was the most successful dedicated games console in interactive entertainment history.
I'm also shocked and awed by the above run-on sentence...
I fit 89 words into one sentence.
Also being a master of numerology, I can tell you that those 89 words portend that, on August 9th, Pocket Gamer Mobile Mavens will become the most-read gaming media weekly on the planet Earth and that Jon Jordan will apotheosize.
Definitely 'glass half full'!
The production quality of games is now reaching very high levels. That may mean smaller teams cannot now compete (depending on one's definition!) but this is the real world and mobile gaming is a very significant market now.
The global market has a long way to grow still. Look at China and India. That means new customers for existing games but also new creative and commercial opportunities.
Changes to App Store ranking methodologies and curation policies mean games need to be good to get visibility (no more blowing most of your marketing budget on gaining initial chart position and hoping to stay there). If you can afford to make a really polished game you should find it easier (note: not 'easy') to gain organic UA since crap games cannot now easily mount a burst campaign to inflate their chart position. Naturally though, if other games monetise better than you they can still outspend you.
Tech and tools keep improving. We can do more, quicker and (sometimes) cheaper.
More revenue opportunities – Crossy Road and other games have shown us that advertising does not have to be a shameful meal consumed only be paupers and shady types. Enjoyable games and viable businesses can be forged with gentle/alternative monetisation.
Hopefully the industry is now better-placed to effectively match IP to really engaging, mobile-relevant game concepts.Kevin Corti
In fact, I really rather like the synergy of Supercell, King, Machine Zone and Big Fish etc re-distributing their revenues to small studios in this way. It has a certain karma to it.
IP is becoming ever more important to success. IP doesn't have to be old as such but we're now seeing real impact from games developed around comic, TV, film and console/PC gaming. I suspect that Bethesda just got a thousand marketing directors scrambling for their contact databases to seek out IP-licensing deals.
Hopefully the industry as a whole is now better-placed to effectively match IP to really engaging, mobile-relevant game concepts.
Wearables…I am not sure anyone really knows where or when this market will become 'real' but my gut tells me that it will develop into something significant before long.
And seeing as we're reducing the year down into 2 time unit – last 6 months, next 6 months – by that measure it is nearly Christmas and I predict (completely uncleverly) that the App Store bonanza of Christmas 2015 will be huuuuuuge….although I dread to think what that will do to CPIs in the festive period. Eek!