GDC Online 11: Our focus on metrics and monetisation is killing mobile games, rants Graeme Devine

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GDC Online 11: Our focus on metrics and monetisation is killing mobile games, rants Graeme Devine
What makes mobile game developers so angry they can't sleep at night?

That was the concept behind the final session of the Smartphone & Tablet Gaming Summit at GDC Online.

Kicking off the rant (and moderating) was Caryl Shaw of ngmoco.

Her key complaints include Apple's opaque app approvals process, the lack of a live App Store updating system (something ngmoco is working on for its Android games), and the difficulty of acquiring new players.

"I also wish I could talk directly to my customers," Shaw said.

Although pointing out that no one was yet making money on the Android, she was bullish on its longterm opportunities.

"We want Google to succeed," he said.

Only scraping the surface

Arash Keshmirian from Limbic Software spoke about the deep experiences he enjoyed playing games such as Final Fantasy 7, Fallout and Deux Ex 3.

With the exception of games such as Sword and Sworcery, "We're not seeing that from mobile games," he argued.

Indeed, in Limbic's game Zombie Gunship originally had a plot about a pilot trying to save his daughter from zombies, although this was dropped as being too risky.

"It was successful, but we feel like we sold ourselves a little short," Keshmirian said.

"I don't feel like I satisfied my creative juice. I think we can do a lot more in terms of investigating human experiences. I want to play the first mobile game to make me cry."

Unrealised expectations

Fresh from his rant yesterday about Android development, Appy's Steven Sargent took issue with the quality of mobile advertising or promotional middleware he has to implement in games.

"They always say it will take 10 lines of codes, you can do it in an hour, and it will increase our revenue 300 percent," he explained.

Issues include problems with device rotation, memory leaks and multi-tasking. "Sometimes we end up fixing the SDK for them," Sargent said.

Too many numbers

Last up from the professionals was Graeme Devine of GRL Games.

"I love metrics, but we have gone over the line when it comes to metrics," he ranted.

"The word monetisation is a bad, bad word, and it shouldn't be in a game designer's vocabulary."

Taking an old school view on what a game should be, he argued that metrics have become the over-riding concern for all mobile games, and this, in turn, was limiting the type of games made.

"We're killing mobile games," he stated.

"We have to have the gall to make games that could fail and be happy about it. We've failed our gaming audience."
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.