As excitement builds for the first ever MEF Global Forum co-located with the 10th annual Meffys Awards on 14th and 15th November in San Francisco, we invited the Board Chairs of regional Chapters to share their mobile insights on their respective territories.
Ron Czerny is CEO of Playphone and Chair of MEF in North America – here he discusses the genesis of mobile games in one of the world’s largest mobile entertainment markets.
As a veteran entrepreneur in the games industry I have witnessed over the past 25 years the evolution of games in every platform from arcade, console, PC and Web – but no platform can be compared to the explosive growth and power of the mobile smartphones. MEF has been a leader in exposing innovation and policies in the mobile world, a value that MEF members have the privilege to have.
The upcoming MEF Global Forum event in Silicon Valley will bring together handset makers, carriers and mobile gaming leaders to further discuss, among other things, the future of mobile gaming.
I would like to welcome existing MEF members and potential new members to come and join me at the MGF 2013 to meet and debate on issues that will shape the present and future of the mobile industry.
Mobile gaming in North America
According to ComScore more than half of smartphone users (52.9 percent) and two-thirds of tablet users (66.3 percent) play games on their devices.
That makes games the seventh most popular activity on smartphones after texting, taking photos, emailing, checking the weather, social networking and searching the Web and the fourth most popular activity on tablets after searching the Web, emailing and social networking. Other forms of entertainment are also popular – nearly half of smartphone users listen to music on mobile (48 percent) and half of tablet users watch videos (50.9 percent).
But the picture is very different when you look at mobile apps – specifically to the amount of time that users spend within different types of app. According to app analytics firm Flurry when it comes to apps, users spend far more time engaged in mobile entertainment, playing games than using all other types of apps, with 43 percent of users pegging playing games as their number one activity. Flurry estimates that this 43 percent of total app time equates to app users spending 55 minutes per day playing games.
This puts mobile games apps way ahead in terms of revenue than any other type of app. According to data from app analytics firm Distimo, 33 percent of total app store revenues come from games. In the future, developers expect games to remain the highest revenue earner. A 2012 survey by Deloitte asked developers which app categories they expected to deliver the most revenues in five years time – they replied: games (20 percent); social networking (16 percent); entertainment (14 percent); navigation (10 percent); videos (10 percent).
Mobile games- seven apps take 10 percent of the revenue
Just like other games platforms, successful mobile games can make upwards of seven figures per month; however, the category is “hits driven” where a few games make most of the revenue, so successful games take a greater share of the category revenue vs. average revenue per game. Distimo estimate that the top seven applications for iPhone take 10 percent of the revenues.
Its hard to break down exactly what will make a successful mobile game — you need that magical component that makes all the pieces come together to make your game fun and engaging. In addition to a great concept and great execution, there needs to be user-testing to see how the game engages and fine-tuning to make the experience truly enjoyable.
Can this same recipe be applied to other forms of mobile entertainment? I think listening and watching how your users consume your content is always a good practice.
A large percentage of mobile entertainment in North America is focused on native apps because they are currently the tested path that delivers the most robust gaming experience. However, developers are looking into HTML5 and other platforms to move away from native dominance, as they seek out cross-platform solutions and more open ecosystems. We anticipate that HTML5 will be a very robust gaming platform in the future, and MEF member, Mozilla is certainly pushing in to this space.
The mobile marketing opportunity
Since more people connect to the Internet with mobile devices than with laptops or desktops, marketers need to look to mobile to reach their audiences. Mobile enables marketers to reach users as they go about their daily activities, providing multiple opportunities to message and promote location and make time-specific offers.
Users are wary of advergaming as the real purpose of the game is transparent to them (i.e. to promote the brand). Having said that, there are opportunities to use games to promote brands, but great care must be taken to ensure the brand inclusion makes sense and the user experience is enhanced vs. degraded.
Marketers also need to be mindful that successful mobile sites and apps have been developed with great care to optimize mobile device features, opportunities and the mobile user experience. You can’t just port over PC Web content to mobile and expect it to be successful.
MEF in North America
It is vital that North America sees the mobile entertainment market as a global opportunity as the mobile device becomes the consumer’s first screen wherever they are.
As the global community for mobile content and commerce, MEF’s value is as an essential business enabler bringing together stakeholders from across the value chain to share and learn from each other’s experiences – both mobile entrepreneurs and seasoned mobile business people.
MEF does this in developed markets like North America and growth markets like Africa, Middle East and Latin America.
MEF North America will soon host the first-ever MEF Global Forum and Meffy Awards in San Francisco – bringing together the international community to share diverse market insights and showcase mobile successes and innovation.
Ron Czerny is CEO at Playphone, Chair of MEF North America, and a speaker at MEF Global Forum 2013. The monetization of mobile games will feature in a dedicated panel at the event, with representatives from both Distimo and Flurry presenting their analysis of the global games market, as well as featuring a keynote presentation on HTML 5 from Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich.
MEFGF13 will feature speakers from over 20 countries including representatives from Facebook, Real Networks, Boku, Telefonica Digital, Evernote, Shazam, Visa, Mozilla, Deutsche Telekom, Singtel, Innov8, Verizon, vserv.mobi, Silicon Valley Bank and Berkeley’s Centre for Entrepreneurship & Technology.