Mobile Games remains the biggest single sector in our ecosystem when it comes to consumption and monetization. 2015 was another growth year from Nintendo’s dramatic entry into the market to Activision’s purchase of King.
Looking forward, the arrival of new technology such as smartwatches and VR, has begun to reshape the mobile games landscape along with free to play business models continuing to evolve and support new market entrants.
Ahead of the 13th annual Mobile Games Forum in London on 20th and 21st January, we hear from some of the industry’s leading professionals who are shaping strategy and revolutionising the landscape of mobile gaming. These responses are gathered from The Future of Mobile Gaming e-book from MGF and are reproduced here with permission.
What was the biggest story of 2015 and why?
Without a doubt it is Activision Blizzard buying King. Not just because it is the biggest acquisition in games industry history. It is illustrative of many things that have shaken up our industry in the past years.
Mobile gaming has grown to a size justifying a $6Bn investment to acquire a leader in this field. It also relates to the fact that the majority of big spenders on console and PC games turn out to be big spenders on mobile games as well, ensuring Activision Blizzard can extend its grip on its gamers’ wallets.
Indirectly, the acquisition links to the rise of Asian game companies, Tencent and Gungho in particular. It seemed that all big acquisitions involved an Asian giant on the buying side. The acquisition of King by Activision Blizzard has created a (temporary) end to this belief.
With Activision, Nintendo and Konami making bigger plays in mobile, will the traditional console giants supplant the big mobile players, or struggle to make an impact?
The play patterns, rewards and business models are alien to most console developers. Therefore any company moving into mobile will need to buy in expertise or invest in learning the lessons.
EA started early and have already done well. Nintendo have been smart and partnered with DeNA who already understand the space. The days of porting an existing IP to mobile have long gone for most publishers. Anyone moving to mobile will need to take it seriously as it is a very competitive market with many big players who will be keen to maintain their market position.
How much of an impact will VR have on the mobile games scene in 2016?
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR all aim for a major push into our living rooms in 2016. Those and similar projects are at the centre of media attention and the prospect of playing Minecraft on Microsoft’s Hololens is getting the community excited. Owing to the high cost of the full experience gamers with deep pockets will of course indulge in Rift and similar devices but for most of the players the payment wall is quite high.
Tying VR to mobile allows millions to enter the market using a device they are already familiar with. Oculus itself created a smartphone compatible Gear VR headset to capitalize on the development.
The use of VR on the mobile lowers the entrance barrier for many and allows consumers to start experiencing the endless possibilities of VR. That is where HTC Vive, Playstation VR and others will try and acquire these users.
Will eSports make a splash on mobile in 2016, if so or not, why?
I think my answer would be a bit biased. I’ve always viewed mobile gaming as a mass entertainment platform and I know there has been a lot of talk, traction and investment in eSports.
But my view is that not all consumers will a) understand eSports and b) won’t necessarily turn into mass market. So I’d categorise eSports as a hardcore segment and I’m not sure it’ll turn into mass market overnight.
Saying that, I think the context of eSports could roll over into the mainstream in the right context. Maybe eSports A vs eSports B could be interesting, but I think when it’s eSports Oxford vs eSports Cambridge is when it gets interesting. The moment that you set that up is when it could explode.
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What changes are we likely to see within the mobile marketing space in the coming years?
As F2P evolves and matures, I expect to see bigger and better approaches to monetisation. Seeing the first mobile game grow to 10bn USD in revenue will be the next huge milestone for the industry, and from a foundational level there’s no reason why that could not happen even quite soon.
In the current shape of performance marketing in the industry, mobile user acquisition, I would also expect to see some changes. What exactly the next waves are in performance marketing remains to be seen, but the level of CPI’s for targeted mobile users has reached really high levels now.