GDC Online 11: PopCap's Contestabile says Android ARPU could rise from 20% of iOS to 50% by end of 2012

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GDC Online 11: PopCap's Contestabile says Android ARPU could rise from 20% of iOS to 50% by end of 2012
Combining PopCap, an evaluation of iOS vs Android, and the man with the coolest name in mobile gaming - Giordano Bruno Contestabile - and you have all the ingredients for a successful GDC Online talk.

And so it was with PopCap's senior director of mobile speaking at the Smartphone & Tablet Gaming Summit.

"There are four mega-trends shaping gaming," Contestabile argued.

"Games are becoming mobile, social, connected and cross-platform, and mobile is the key enabler of the other three trends."

More importantly, he said, "Mobile gaming is probably the fastest growing part of the gaming industry at the moment".

Two to rule them all

One major reason for this is growth of smartphone; what Contestabile called, 'the iOS-Android duolopy. (He's not yet sold on the comparative future growth of Windows Phone.)

At the moment, there are roughly 250 million devices of each platform, but Android is growing faster.

"Android could be a 600 - 700 million subscriber market by the end of the 2012. You can't ignore it," he argued.

Of course, there are problems, such as fragmentation, but Contestabile said while you need to be careful, realistically there are only three screen resolutions you have to deal with to cover the majority of Android devices.

"Android is not a new version of Java," he stated, with respect to the porting process.

It's different, however, when it comes to monetisation.

"ARPU on Android is currently about 20 percent of iOS, but that could be 50 percent by the end of 2012," Contestabile said.

"My personal view is Android will remain an open market but it become a bit more restrictive, which will make it easier for us to sell games."

Don't have to be free

He also argued that amidst the hype for freemium games, there was still a strong case for premium titles i.e. games that require an upfront payment.

"Premium games need a strong brand, a clear audience or - like Tiny Wings - rely on luck, but who wants to build a business on a one in a million chance?" he said.

But either freemium, paid, paidium... being successful in the smartphone era, you need for focus on your game, Contestabile said.

"At PopCap, we are not process or data-driven, we are game-driven," he said.

And this relates to what developers focus on.

"The first minute is crucial. If you can provide a moment of pure joy, you've won 90 percent of the battle," he said.

Instead, Contestabile said too often, small developers talk more about their plans for iOS, Android and Windows Phone than the actual game experience.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.