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Western devs need to think more about chance and less about skill says Marvelous' Harry Holmwood

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Western devs need to think more about chance and less about skill says Marvelous' Harry Holmwood
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According to Harry Holmwood, the CEO of Marvelous Europe, there are only four mobile markets in the world.

"There's Japan, China, Korea and Everywhere Else," he says.

Talking at Develop:Brighton 2015, Holmwood was taking about what western developers can learn from from the success of Asian-developed games, notably Japan.

"Yes, the audience is different - for example no publisher doesn't more than one of those markets well - but there are a lot of similarities," Holmwood said.

Rethinking development

The opportunity for western developers is that Japanese games, in particular, monetise at a much high level.

For example, the global top 2 grossing games on Google Play are from Japan.

Similarly, Marvelous' Logres of Swords and Sorcery generates over $200 per month in terms of revenue per paying player.

In order to do this, however, western developers need to make games in a different way.

Gameplay needs to be very simple, but also offer a longterm sophistication, both in terms of gameplay but more importantly in terms of the metagame.

"I see gameplay as being the marketing hook, not the core element, which is why Asian developers often include auto-play options for longterm players, something that's an anathema to western developers," Holmwood said.

Catch'em all

Live events are the main driver of revenue for Japanese mobile games companies.

Instead, for most successful Japanese games, collection is at the heart of the longterm gaming experience.

This fulfills a basic human need, and also enabling key psychological hooks such as chance; something that is key in board and card games, and something that is also key in many Asian F2P games, notably using gatcha mechanics.

But you have to support collection mechanics with content. Typically, a Japanese card collection game will launch with 300 cards, but quickly increase this to over 1,000, maybe even 2,000.

These techniques provide the foundation for monetisation, but live events are the main driver of revenue for mobile games companies.

These can be linked to real-world events, events at regular times during the week, or even have VIP events locked only for their most lucrative players.