The Mobile Gold Rush

Discuss game development design and post your game ideas

Post » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:34 pm

Greetings! This is just some food for thought (warning: long post).

So I was doing some reading about the desktop and mobile markets, trying to decide if I needed to aim for supporting as much as possible (the shotgun strategy) or focus on smaller targets (the rifle strategy). Throw in mobile web, native mobile, desktop, tablets... good lord almighty, how can I possibly form a strategy?

A majority of opinions, not surprisingly, lean towards the mobile market. The ridiculous growth predicted and ease of access for mobile apps and web-games isn't going away. Is that the answer?

Do we, as HTML5 game devs, throw our lot in with the fastest growing segment? Do we hope that sheer numbers, just based on odds, will yield some success--even if it's minor? If we focus on mobile, maybe we can make something of quality and see that proverbial 'gold in the pan'.

If we target all markets, and maybe sacrifice some quality (unless we have the time, resources, and assistance) for the quantity of mobile, is that still the best strategy?

I certainly started believing this was the case, even though I'm not a fan of mobile devices or mobile gaming in general--you can't ignore the million-app gold rush going on... can you? Well one article I read (don't remember the link, sorry!) had a slightly different perspective on the situation; it got me thinking a little bit, which is always dangerous.

The desktop and laptop market for games isn't going to disappear. It may change and absorb some concepts of mobile, but it'll be around for quite awhile. But what about for gaming? Well, until the day comes when you can create games on mobile devices as or more efficiently than desktops, we're gonna have the standard PC. Maybe it'll all go touch at some point, but it'll still be there.

As games and apps join the gold rush to mobile, will that leave a vacancy for traditional desktop games? Or will it, at the very least, make room for some quality desktop browser games? When HTML5 takes center-stage, and gobbles more of Flash's dominance, will there be any kind of a renaissance in that market? Will we ever see a AAA-title (or even something close to it) emerge on the desktop market as a result of HTML5 gaming?

What are your thoughts? Do you think the desktop market is shrinking and will eventually dry up? Do you think it's only changing and may offer new possibilities for HTML5 games? Is mobile the only solution to find 'gold in the pan' going forward?

Take care, folks!
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Post » Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:31 pm

I'm not even going to bother going for the mobile market. It's so oversaturated that going big is akin to winning the lottery. And the thought of making many low-quality games is very unappealing to me.

I'd much rather focus my efforts into making a very decent game for desktop. We can support all the major desktop platforms and the market for indie games is great at the moment. Especially considering steam greenlight...
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Post » Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:55 pm

HTML5 allows for easy porting to multiple platforms, so in my mind there's no reason to not target as many platforms as possible, as long as your game's design allows for play with a mouse/touchscreen/controller.

That said, the mobile gold rush is long since over. There's too many devs and not enough gold. There's plenty of money to be made there, but getting it is a difficult challenge with so many others attempting the same. Too many devs have been making the mistake of only targeting mobile, thinking the gold rush is still in effect. In my opinion, PC should be the primary target with mobile as a bonus platform.

The new focus on android consoles might create a new smaller gold rush, with less competition at first on those storefronts, but it will have fewer customers than the smartphone market and still will have more competition than the mobile market had at first because there are already games on android that can be run on those devices.Arima2013-01-18 19:57:01
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Post » Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:53 pm

[QUOTE=sqiddster] I'm not even going to bother going for the mobile market. It's so oversaturated that going big is akin to winning the lottery. And the thought of making many low-quality games is very unappealing to me.[/quote]

Hey sqiddster. That was one of my concerns, too. It's so easy to pump out lower quality games and hope that quantity and cross-pollination (er, pollution) helps something stick. I mean, how high can we get with quality if we're a very small team (or 1 man team)?

With the node-webkit exporter now, the prospect of something like Greenlight seems very appealing.
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Post » Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:57 pm

[QUOTE=Arima] HTML5 allows for easy porting to multiple platforms, so in my mind there's no reason to not target as many platforms as possible, as long as your game's design allows for play with a mouse/touchscreen/controller.[/quote]

So far, I've had a lot of headaches being a 1-man show trying to make something cross-platform. I know it can be done, evidenced by some great projects out there; it seems daunting, though. How have you fared in this arena?

[quote]That said, the mobile gold rush is long since over. There's too many devs and not enough gold. There's plenty of money to be made there, but getting it is a difficult challenge with so many others attempting the same. Too many devs have been making the mistake of only targeting mobile, thinking the gold rush is still in effect. In my opinion, PC should be the primary target with mobile as a bonus platform.[/quote]

Excellent points, m'lady. From a lot of articles, there seems to be a feeling that there's still a 'gold rush' in mobile, but I think your perspective here might be closer to reality.

[quote]The new focus on android consoles might create a new smaller gold rush, with less competition at first on those storefronts, but it will have fewer customers than the smartphone market and still will have more competition than the mobile market had at first because there are already games on android that can be run on those devices.[/QUOTE]

I was wondering about how big an impact something like OUYA or Gamestick is going to make on HTML5 projects. One of my concerns there is close to what you mentioned: what happens when all those android games get ported over by their developers? It can't be too much of a stretch to tweak it for OUYA, for example. Is it going to be another case of a super-saturated market like mobile now?

What about mobile web gaming? Where does that fit into the picture with all this?
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Post » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:57 pm

[QUOTE=Space Ape]So far, I've had a lot of headaches being a 1-man show trying to make something cross-platform. I know it can be done, evidenced by some great projects out there; it seems daunting, though. How have you fared in this arena?[/quote]

It depends how complex your project is and what level of devices you're targeting. If you're doing something with simple graphics and interactions, it's generally no problem at all. However, if you're doing something more complex, it can get a bit tricky.

So far, getting my game to work on both desktop and touch devices hasn't been all that difficult. While it was somewhat more difficult than I expected (partially because I want to do some relatively complex touch interactions), it wasn't all that hard. It mainly required learning how to use the touch for ID expression and learning about things like overdraw and how to optimize for the weaker GPU hardware in mobile devices.

[QUOTE=Space Ape]Excellent points, m'lady. From a lot of articles, there seems to be a feeling that there's still a 'gold rush' in mobile, but I think your perspective here might be closer to reality.[/quote]

Actually, I'm male, my avatar is just of one of my game's main characters, sorry for the confusion. Basically what I get from articles and other developers is there is money but it's hard to get and most devs don't succeed at doing so because of insane competition of hundreds of new apps every day. One of the most important lessons I've read is to not to depend on simply being on the app store as a form of advertising. That only works if you get featured by apple or get on the top seller lists, which will most likely only happen if you advertise elsewhere.

[QUOTE=Space Ape]I was wondering about how big an impact something like OUYA or Gamestick is going to make on HTML5 projects. One of my concerns there is close to what you mentioned: what happens when all those android games get ported over by their developers? It can't be too much of a stretch to tweak it for OUYA, for example. Is it going to be another case of a super-saturated market like mobile now?[/quote]

That depends how successful and lucrative those markets turn out to be. Where there is gold, you'll find people, lots of people, trying to get it.

I read somewhere that iOS has something like 270 million devices out there. My guess is there will be way more competition at the start than iOS had at first because of the ease of porting games that are already on android to them, but way less than if you released for android phones/tablets because most of the games on android won't be coded to work with the controllers of these new platforms, meaning less competition than if you released on Google play.

Also, piracy as I hear is completely rampant on android, and even those who don't pirate are less prone to pay for things, and it doesn't help matters that users can buy something, return it and get a refund yet still keep the app. I don't know if the new android consoles will help to mitigate those factors or not.

[QUOTE=Space Ape]What about mobile web gaming? Where does that fit into the picture with all this?[/QUOTE]

The problem with mobile web gaming is monetization. With an app store, the company already has your credit card information, so it's a very easy process to buy something and people feel safe about it. On the web, people have to give credit card information to a company they're generally not familiar with, and as such people are far more reluctant to do so. There's in game ads, but those generally pay a pittance. There's also marketjs, but I'm not sure exactly how lucrative that can be.Arima2013-01-18 22:19:14
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Post » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:21 pm

Thanks for the valuable input, Arima. Oh, and sorry about the gender confusion... that was just laziness on my part; I could have taken a quick gander at your profile.

You brought up a lot of good points, M'LORD :), and I think it's a valuable read for anyone interested in getting a perspective on the markets.

Thanks a bunch!
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Post » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:33 pm

Lol, no worries. XD
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Post » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:56 am

Thanks Arima, those are very solid points about the whole matter. While I don't argue what you have said. I want to make the additional comment.

While the gold rush has peaked and on it's way down. We shouldn't forget that it's still a different market with over saturation of lower quality products. Even so this does not mean that by default the PC is still the go to platform. By far the PC is still the most dominant and over saturated of quality products. It is by far going to be harder to get noticed on PC to make money than on a still growing sector of the market.

just because the gold rush is over doesn't make it an inferior market :)
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Post » Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:26 am

That's a good point, there isn't one specific strategy that will work for all games. I was letting too much of my own strategy color that comment about targeting PC first.

Part of what drove it though is the impression that I got from everything that I've read is that it is in fact harder to get noticed on mobile than it is on PC. However, I don't know that for sure because getting a game noticed is not an exact science, so I could be wrong. It just seems the PC has more of an indie culture that websites are more willing to report on.
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