Chart stasis, the rise of Asia and extreme UA discussed at Apps World SF 2015

Kabam, SGN and Microsoft talk trends

Chart stasis, the rise of Asia and extreme UA discussed at Apps World SF 2015

According to Kabam's COO Kent Wakeford, talking at the Apps World San Francisco 2015 conference, there are two key trends in the mobile games space.

"One is the consolidation of the market at the top," he explained.

"The top five games in 2012, first quarter, did $41 million in revenue and had about 10% market share.

"Today, those five games have 22% market share and over $2 billion in revenue. I think that's going to reshape the entire industry over the next 2 to 3 years."

Joining Wakeford on the panel was Steve Guggenheimer, corporate VP, Microsoft, and SGN CEO Chris DeWolfe.

He pointed out this stasis was now a significant barrier of entry.

"If you look at the top 20, the majority of games have been there for at least 12 months. Once you get there, you kind of stay there," DeWolfe said

Asia - a 'tremendous opportunity'

The second trend, according to the panel, was Asia, which Wakeford described as both a huge market and huge opportunity, although he emphasised that Asia is a set of discrete markets, not one big monolith.

If you look at the top 20, the majority of games have been there for at least 12 months.
Chris DeWolfe

Similarly, DeWolfe described China as being "amazingly fragmented," thanks to its proliferation of Android app stores.

"I don't think anyone's gotten into China yet in a big way," he said.

Wakeford spent some time detailing all the different considerations developers must make when trying to
enter the Asian market, including culturalization and localization for both the game itself and a company's
approach to marketing.

Despite all the factors though, panelists agreed that it's worth it.

"China is now surpassing the US in terms of installs," said Wakeford.

"Next year, China - on the mobile game side - will surpass the US in terms of revenue, but the year after it'll do a billion dollar bigger market than the US.

"You have to think differently, you have to invest differently, you have to enter the market differently, but it's
a tremendous opportunity."

Market for sustainability

Even outside of Asia, marketing is important.

Of course, there will always be those breakout successes, like Trivia Crack or Monument Valley, panelists agree.

Monument Valley - a hit without marketing

But when it comes to sustainability, Wakeford said, "marketing is a dominant trend."

In particular, the rise in television commercials, especially during events like the Super Bowl, have been a "radical shift."

It goes outside TV too, though. There are takeover ads and subway ads, all integral moves for building a
brand and making sure that brand lasts through the years.

Steven Guggenheimer likened this to the way triple-A games have always worked to build up brands for years, and that a similar trend is making its way into the casual gaming business.

Rise of the robot

Another trend panelists agreed on was Android.

Wakeford points out that according to a report from Digi-Capital, Android now represents a larger revenue share of the market than iOS.

"The other interesting stat was that an iOS user, the revenue generated is twice that of an Android user," said Wakeford. "So you have to think about that: how do you market, build, prioritize?"

Near the end of the panel, the speakers touched briefly on virtual reality and augmented reality.

Wakeford believed it's a bit too early to say anything conclusive about what the business model for VR or AR will look like, but agreed that from a consumer perspective, it's exciting.

In contrast, Guggenheimer didn't think games would be the first place where VR and AR would excel, stating that the AR-powered business tools shown off at Microsoft Build 2015 "make more sense" at first.

Staff Writer

Chloi games, and Chloi writes, and at some point she made the dangerous decision of merging the two. Now she spends her time formulating words about weird games she finds, playing Dark Souls, and also playing Dark Souls.