Gaming is still one of the biggest sectors in mobile, home to pioneering monetisation strategies and countless innovations. MEFTV visited last month’s Pocket Gamer Connects London to meet the community and get a taste of the mobile gaming industry in 2018 – what are some of the current themes being talked about, how is gaming evolving and what’s next for the industry? Watch out for more in-depth features on Blockchain, esports and member interviews in the coming weeks, but for now here’s what we heard on the show floor.

Mobile gaming is going all in on multiplayer…

E-sports and multiplayer focused games are coming to mobile in a big way.

“Its not going to happen overnight” says Josh Naylor, Senior Tech evangelist for Unity “As it comes over a lot more from Asia, we’re going to see a big rise in PC and mobile, and its up to them for both platforms to work together..

With mobile you can have really short sessions – 5/10 minutes.. and that really drives a lot more audience, with bite size moments to watch and to play.”

…but casual gaming is still crucial for developers

While the hardcore mutiplayer market is booming the casual audience is not being left behind. Natalie Porter COO of Appodeal sees continued growth in the casual games sector, suggesting its is a useful gateway for developers to get into mobile: “Developers try to get a quick start by developing a casual game and then go from there into developing more serious games – I see growth in kids apps as well, and monetisation of ads grows in those verticals.”

Real time analytics data is adding new depth to games…

Developers are using real time data to make their games increasingly dynamic, tracking players across devices and platforms so that they can better understand their behaviours and provide new content according to their tastes.

Mark Val, GM for Europe at Playfab describes how such live ops allow devs to “improve, iterate and make [games] better for their users, but also make sure to take consideration of what their community talking about.”

…while real time multiplayer is becoming easier to implement

Christoff Wegmann, CTO of photon, sees a lot of innovation in bringing realtime gaming to mobile, formerly a difficult task but becoming increasingly within reach of independent developers.

“There is a lot of innovation going on with specialist companies working on ad-tech, on analytics and on real time multiplayer – we have developed a new tech based on determinism… this is changing how you build multiplayer and what type of games you can build.”

VR is still a big deal for mobile gaming…

There were several Virtual reality demo setups on the showfloor showing off new games, and while the VR promise has yet to be fulfilled, the movement is still forging ahead – Josh Naylor suggests mobile is the natural bridge between the high end, unaffordable full fat VR experiences and the cheap throwaway Google cardboard at the other end of the spectrum.

“We’ve seen some amazing content, but we still need to reach the mass audience and thats where people have been coming to the mobile side of things.. the middle ground where a lot of the companies are targeting, the standalone device you don’t have to plug into a super high end PC..”

…but maybe not as big a deal as AR

While there were several VR demos, there were perhaps more for augmented reality games. Mobile devices of course lend themselves to AR more readily than VR as with the high spec cameras and screens smartphones are now providing vivid windows into some amazing digital worlds well beyond the likes of early efforts like Pokemon Go. Josh Naylor thinks AR is the future:

“It doesnt have to be entertainment and games, its going to be incorporated in to our everyday lives – mobile AR are like the beta devices.. but its all about the wearables, in the next 5-10 years we’ll all be wearing devices and mobile AR is just the start of that.”

The new game design mantra is “the meta”

PocketGamer‘s James Gilmour, who spent the days interviewing games industry insiders, noticed a new focus on the “meta” of a game, that is, focusing on providing free to play gamers in-depth options for character customisation to secure longterm monetisation.

“It becomes less about the core loop.. and more about the meta of watching the numbers gradually climb over weeks and months, and seeing characters develop and getting your customisation options just so, so that your one in a million character really is one in a million.”

Mobile is still a place for unique gaming experiences

One might think that as the capabilities of mobile devices become more aligned with their bigger console cousins, and with the runaway success of Nintendo’s tablet-esque Switch, mobile might be becoming less relevant in the world of gaming.

Not so says Gilmour, who uses the example of Fireproof’s Room series, wth their heavy reliance on intuitive touchscreen controls, that work best on mobile “the ability to tailor your content to the platform you’re working on is the most important thing – there are games that work best on each platform.. its a unique experience you cant get anywhere else.”

Sam Hill

Global Comms Manager, MEF

  

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