F2P Summit: Super communities will fix the app discovery problem, reckons Playfuel's Ian Baverstock
#f2psummit The power of crowds
In that context, industry veteran, now of consultancy Playfuel (amongst others), Ian Baverstock's talk about Alternative Discovery Approaches at the F2P Summit in London was highly relevant.
Highlighting the closeness between developers and their players, he argued that developers need to make the most of this opportunity, always using analytics and metrics to inform their choices.
"The Apple App Store is like the biggest shop in the world but you have to buy everything through a letterbox," he said, of the issue of discovery via iTunes.
Look at me
Over time, some sort of lock on distribution has historically developed for games, especially in terms of retail, Baverstock said.
It's harder to see this happening in digital distribution, however; something that's also impacted by a lack of good search options or press coverage.
"The definitive problem is getting your game found on the App Store," Baverstock said.
"It's the Catch 22 of the chart position. Companies spend a lot of money marketing to get chart position to get discovery. It's not that good for Apple, or for consumers, and definitely not for indie developers. I don't think it's sustainable."
In this context, he thought Android provided a more flexible ecosystem.
"It's unfortunate - and disingenuous - that Apple won't allow incentivised downloads for iOS [as on Android]," Baverstock said.
Yet, he hoped that the innovation arising from incentivised downloads on Android would result in things that will become available on iOS.
He also thought that, in time, search would become more important.
"There is a latent demand from consumers to find more interesting stuff on the App Store," Baverstock stated.
"I think developers need to think more closely about SEO and keywords."
Baverstock was positive about performance advertising too, whether on mobile, Facebook or Twitter: as long as developers focus on ROI.
Pull your levers
But coming back to the control developers have over their games and the closeness to their audience, viral marketing - and creating wider communications about your games and your company - was something Baverstock said developers weren't using enough.
Indeed, in the long term, he argued developers have a big opportunity to take control of their content and their audience, and work out ways of talking to them, engaging with them, recommending content for them, and ultimately monetise them.
"We need to get out of the console mindset," Baverstock said.
"Indies need to work together, cross promoting their games, otherwise the winners will be the big publishers with the marketing money."
However, Baverstock predicted that distribution locks are likely to appear.
This will range from the rise of production values to what Baverstock calls 'super-communities' such as GREE and DeNA's Mobage.
He also expected discovery to be fixed (to some degree) and the entire industry to then pivot very quickly around these changes.