Problem 1: Mobile games have poor player retention rates
Though recent stats show mobile app abandonment is on the decline, there’s still a long way to go before we can claim victory. There are few other industries where a 70% – 80% loss of customers is accepted as business-as-usual. A few years ago app makers focused on acquisition numbers as the gold-standard KPI (key performance indicator). However if after 90 days you only have 20% of those users still engaging your app, the wrong metric is being given scrutiny.
The recent decline in mobile app attrition rates (however small) shows that some mobile app makers are starting to pay attention and make adjustments. Companies who will succeed with capturing and holding a customer base in mobile games are those who focus on experience in tandem with profit (not just profit).Companies who will succeed with capturing and holding a customer base in mobile games are those who focus on experience in tandem with profit (not just profit). Click To Tweet
A majority of mobile game makers embrace the Casual model—cheaply made and fast to market products. The focus with this development and distribution pipeline is capturing the buyer then profiting off of them via in-game-ads and push notifications. While these modes of advertisement are an important source of revenue, aggressively adding them on top of a flimsy game that offers no deep engagement is a recipe for high abandonment rates.
So is the answer to make Hardcore level games for mobile? Improving the customer experience via bigger and more beautiful games has its challenges too. While mobile devices continue to make advances in leaps and bounds, they still aren’t capable of handling the massive storage and memory requirements of PC or console-level Hardcore games. There’s also something to be said for gamers who prefer a greater challenge, but still want more of an instant gratification experience like what’s offered by Casual games.
Don’t abandon push notifications and in-game ads entirely, but ease off of making them your primary revenue stream. Also, for the love of all that is good, work on making your ads and pushed messages relevant to the customer. Few things are as disruptive as an ad; fewer things are as obnoxious as an ad or pushed notification that has nothing to do with you or your interest.
While mobile game developers are still struggling with porting Hardcore games to mobile devices, they can borrow from Hardcore’s “quality over quantity” approach and blend it with some of Casual’s lightweight and instant gratification aspects to create a Midcore experience.
Last bit of advice—embrace omni-channel marketing. This style of marketing is less of an option and more of a requirement if the customer experience is at all important to you.
Problem 2: eSports remains heavily biased toward PC and Console games
Why does eSports matter? Let’s look at some numbers: In 2018 three of the biggest sporting events in the world drew the following levels viewership:
- FIFA World Cup – 900 million viewers
- UEFA Championship League Final – 300 Million viewers
- American Football Super Bowl – 110 Million viewers
In this same year, PC-based arena battle game “League of Legends” held its first World Championship and attracted a viewership count of over 200 million – nearly twice as many viewers as the Super Bowl. While many a hardcore fan of traditional sports may still roll their eyes at the mere mention of eSports, others are clicking and button mashing right to the bank.
With a year-on-year 40% growth rate, recent statistics predict that eSports will be a $1.65 billion industry by 2021. The bulk of this revenue (80%) comes from sponsorship and advertising, with the remainder being made up from prize pools, in-game microtransactions, eSports betting, merch and ticket sales.
In an ironic turn, the same dismissive bias eSports have faced from traditional sports has been passed down to mobile gaming by eSports enthusiasts. In gamer land, here’s how the hierarchy goes: the elite pinnacle of gaming is the PC crowd, console players are the plebeians, and mobile gamers are regarded as casual peasants. However, with the pending release of 5G wireless, mobile gaming may get the last laugh.In gamer land, here’s how the hierarchy goes: the elite pinnacle of gaming is the PC crowd, console players are the plebeians, and mobile gamers are regarded as casual peasants. Click To Tweet
If mobile gaming’s largest hurdle to introducing more complex, ‘eyegasm’ worthy games has been high latency and device memory limits, 5G may very well be the answer to that problem. This paired with the reality that mobile now accounts for 50% of the gaming market at an annual growth rate of 25% should make any smart person drop trivial biases and pay attention.
Take a real look at the stats when it comes to mobile games. If you are an advertiser, sponsor or pro-gamer ignoring this space, you’re leaving money on the table. Sponsors and advertisers—expand prize pools and offer cryptocurrency payouts. Gamers—delve into mobile and take advantage of mobile-first emerging tech like actual ownership of in-game assets.
Problem 3: There is under representation in Mobile Gaming
In a previous article I discussed the problem of underrepresentation in gaming and the prospect of mobile gaming and blockchain as democratizing forces. While the mobile’s built-in accessibility undoubtedly makes it a potent tool for diversity, as we’ve seen in the aforementioned PC vs mobile example, human biases tend to linger and drift into new markets and technologies.
Women and girls have traditionally been almost wholly ignored by the gaming industry and this trend unfortunately persists to an extent in mobile games. While female mobile gamers represent 65% of the mobile gaming market in the U.S., the vast majority are made to feel unwelcome or under represented.
When it comes to racial and geographic diversity the picture is equally disconcerting; non-white non-Western game developers make up just 13% of gaming industry employees despite more than six times that amount being avid gamers.
There are however, signs of enlightenment in the form of CEO’s like Paul Murphy of Dots.co who make hiring diversely a top priority. We also see tides of change like the focus on emerging markets outside the U.S. and Pacific Rim which was prioritized at last year’s Game Developers Conference.
Continue to embrace diversity and emerging markets. Buck the trend of exclusively catering to an outdated male, white Western avatar.