by Andrew Schneider, co-Founder & president of Live Gamer
Mobile is shaking up the games industry. Since the last major console launch, a whole industry (and player base) has grown up around mobile gaming that has independent and established gaming studios alike clamouring for mobile success. Although the two markets drastically differ, consoles are learning from, and sometimes even incorporating, mobile methodologies that offer similar experiences. There are two key aspects of the mobile equation that consoles could learn from: – The democratisation of game developers; and a better business model.
The democratisation of game developers
Like mobile, the console world should be accessible to a wider variety of developers, to create a diverse ecosystem where small- to large-size developers are all supported.
Otherwise, consoles will continue to cater to the core and cede to mobile competitors a massive share of the games market, primarily in the casual and social segments but increasingly in the console market’s core segments.
Take a page out of Android and iOS’s style guides … They’re both providing easy to use developer tools and easy to follow guidelines that allow any developer the opportunity to submit content for publishing.
The approval process is only about ten days with Apple’s App Store and just hours for Google’s Play Store.
After onboarding and provisioning, extended developer support is crucial to success.
Mobile gives the consumer opportunities to discover independent content in the first-party app stores.
Consoles are just now recognising the importance.
Whilst Microsoft announced its initial independent developer line-up with a more robust app environment, Sony talked up its support of independent developers during its Playstation 4 announcement back in February . (See video below).
Even though these programs are progressing, they are still not nearly as streamlined as Apple or Google and they need to be.
A better business model
On console, the business model is primarily to buy a very expensive retail disk or game download (typically in the $60 range).
Consoles should be treating more games as a service—with microtransactions and more downloadable content packs, allowing gamers the flexibility of opting in at a price point that suits their needs. Even if it starts as free.
With a games-as-a-service approach, the console market needs to ensure that developers are given the appropriate set of tools to understand how game play and optimisation work together in order to optimise a conversion rate funnel from free to pay, increasing average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) and promoting retention.
Analytics, management and merchandising tools are critical to continue to drive lifetime value and exceed acquisition costs with healthy margins.
As proven by free to download games like Candy Crush Saga (King) and Clash of Clans (Supercell), more mobile developers are building games with ARPPU and long-term player retention in mind.
These are services, not ship-and-done projects. Mobile developers know there’s more value in monetizing a player relationship rather than a one-time download purchase.
However, mobile does still allow for the business model of charging for an app and still building microtransactions into the game.
Again, the new model is about allowing developers the flexibility of applying the right business model to a particular game or even to a given gamer segment within the game and giving the gamer the ability to select the model that is right for them.
It’s safe to say that very few, if any, developers have ever thought, “Do I launch on mobile or console first?”
Console has never been a viable option for mobile developers and most mobile developers have a different scale of budget and team so developing on the two platforms are almost always mutually exclusive.
However, if the console market can successfully incorporate these two key aspects of the mobile market – the democratization of game developers and a better business model – then gaming as consumers know it will improve, and both platforms will flourish.
If the console operators do the following, it can expand its developer and audience bases to include many more casual and social players: -
- Incorporate an easier onboarding process including lower-cost SDKs and streamlined approval processes
- Create discovery opportunities for independent game developers
- Offer tools including marketing, analytics, monetization and payments so freemium and microtransaction game models can work
- Provide easy interfaces to Kinect, Playstation Camera and/or Playstation DualShock Touchpad, for touch screen-native interface replacements
Andrew Schneider has been a digital entertainment industry leader and catalyst for emerging business opportunities at the crossroads of media and technology for nearly 20 years. Prior to founding Live Gamer, Schneider served as executive wp of marketing at Wind-up Records, the world’s leading independent record label. There he focused on digital innovation. Previously, during his eight year tenure at Sony Pictures Digital, Schneider developed and launched award-winning interactive marketing campaigns for major entertainment franchises, developed consumer broadband content services, and launched user-generated media tools and applications. Schneider began his career at NBC Television Network, where he inaugurated the company’s interactive marketing practice with the network’s first online presence.