What does the mobile gaming industry look like after IDFA is gone? Are sales a sustainable way to boost IP revenue? How important is community to the success of a mobile game? Is there space in the industry for indie game developers?
Earlier this month, our CEO, Levi Matkins, moderated MGS Games’ Mobile Game Masters AMA session and was joined by mobile game experts from Glu Mobile, Pixelberry Studios and PopReach. These expert panelists answered questions ranging from emerging industry trends to tips for mobile game success.
Here are a few top takeaways from the session:
Losing IDFA is an opportunity for growth.
With the loss of IDFA, comes the opportunity for industry-wide innovation. “This is just one of many disruptions our industry has gone through in the past ten years,” Chris Akhavan, SVP Business Development, Corporate Development, Advertising at Glu Mobile said. This change will force developers to be more creative in how they retain audiences. Instead of focusing early on monetization, developers can start designing games toward retaining a broad audience and focus less on locking in high-value spenders. “It’s making people think a lot about the user experience and analyze it a lot more,” added Carissa Gonzalez, Head of Marketing at Pixelberry Studios. “It’s going to be exciting to see what happens – what comes out of the creativity from our industry.”
Don’t use sales as a long-term IP revenue solution.
While sales can provide a dramatic boost to IP revenue, they’re better utilized for specific occasions. “You got to make sure those sales aren’t on a regular cadence that your consumers can predict, because then they’re just going to wait for those sales to happen and always buy it at the sale price,” Gregan Dunn, Head of Product at PopReach said. As an alternative to sales, Dunn suggests implementing creative bundles that offer unique content to drive monetization. In his experience, the exclusive content helps stabilize revenue fluctuations throughout the week. “We’re seeing our spikes stay relatively high on the weekends with compelling content, rather than having big discounts on the weekend,” he said. At the end of the day, sometimes sales do serve a purpose for hitting specific goals or capitalizing on holidays. In those cases, Dunn advises, “don’t train your customers, don’t let them know it’s coming – surprise them with it. Don’t rely on that to save the day on a regular basis, otherwise it’ll end up shooting you in the foot long-term.”
Community in games connects you to your customers.
Garnering a community around a game is often an untapped resource, and one that is helpful for connecting with your audience. Whether it’s excitement over new levels or new characters, the content provides an emotional thread between game developers and their consumers. According to Carissa Gonzalez, Head of Marketing at Pixelberry Studios, “there’s incredible value there, to build those emotional connections. Anybody who isn’t thinking about their community as part of their strategy is probably missing out on building that connection with the fans.” With the ubiquity of social media, companies have the tools to connect with their audience right in front of them. Companies can even learn by collaborating with their customers. “We have monthly calls with key members where we talk to them about upcoming features and work with the community to figure out what’s best for the game,” Gregan Dunn, Head of Product at PopReach shared. “They know the game better than a lot of the people on the team do at times, because they’re constantly playing it. We would not be able to keep the game service going as healthfully as we are, had we not been engaging in the community on a regular basis and listening to what they’re saying.”
The mobile gaming industry needs indie game developers.
In an industry that is dominated by bigger companies, it can be hard for a smaller game developer to break through – but their fresh perspective is exactly what the industry needs. “When you’ve got heart, you’ve got passion and you’ve got drive, you want to get out to people. It’s tougher and tougher to get users and it’s getting more expensive, but there will always be those magical games that capture that lightning in a bottle,” observed Gregan Dunn, Head of Product at PopReach. It’s the smaller developers that take the bigger risks necessary for innovation. “Someone at some point was willing to take a big risk on an idea they were passionate about and indie studios are always going to be a huge driver of that type of innovation,” Chris Akhavan, SVP Business Development, Corporate Development, Advertising at Glu Mobile said. If there ever comes a time where indie voices aren’t being heard, space in the industry needs to be made. “There’s always that core passion they have for what narrative storytelling is – stories with heart, and bringing that human element to give a deepened experience for your audiences,” concluded Carissa Gonzalez, Head of Marketing at Pixelberry Studios. “The industry needs small developers. The industry needs indies. It brings the passion.”