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Ingredients for a Successful Mobile Game

Angry Birds by Rovio

Angry Birds by Rovio

Do you want to get in on the mobile game craze and produce the next Angry Birds? My organization is thinking of building a mobile game to market our business. I’ve written about Facebook games for IGN.com, games.com and insidesocialgames.com, so I was able to score a free press pass to attend the Casual Connect conference in Seattle last week. Here’s a quick summary of the current market.

 

    Mobile Games Market, July 2011

  • 34% of smartphone users have downloaded games, according to Quyen Quach, AT&T’s director of consumer apps.


  • Who plays them: More than half of the mobile gamers are women. The demographics mirror the demographics of Facebook gamers.


  • However, most women who play games don’t think of themselves as gamers.


  • Average smartphone gamer downloaded 10 games in 2010. Over 70% of the games were free, according to Chris Williams, Playfirst’s VP and General Manager of Mobile.


  • 13% of smartphone gamers bought virtual goods on the phone. The average spend was $67 last year, according to Williams. (Williams works for Playfirst, which publishes hits like Diner Dash and Hotel Dash. $67 per gamer is specific to his company. A study recently published by mobile analytics firm Flurry cites $14 as the average spend across all games.)


  • The iPhone and Android markets are different. iPhone users are accustomed to paying for an app. Android users are not. However, if Android users like a free-to-try game, they will pay for in-app goods.


  • Android is currently hard to work with, but this is a good time to get into the market as the platform is improving.

     

  • Williams emphasized that each version of a game should be unique to the platform. You cannot port a game from Facebook into the iPhone, or from iPhone to Android, and expect it to succeed. The device and platform has to be a primary consideration in the design process.


    mobile battery

  • When downloading a game, most gamers are concerned about price and how much battery life it will use, according to Quach.


  • Make your game fast and light-weight. People don’t like waiting for games to load.


  • The most common time to play mobile games is either when people are waiting somewhere or when they’re at home. The latter is surprising, because it means that mobile games are replacing other forms of entertainment.


  • Games need to be social in order to succeed. There should be ways to interact with friends within a game, to share badges, pictures, and bragging rights.


  • Williams also emphasized that games like Diner Dash are never finished. The company keeps modifying the game and launching new features to entice customers to come back.


  • Cost: I described my company’s idea for a game to four developers individually. Every one of them quoted me the same price range—$50,000 to $100,000. This should cover artwork, development, music, and testing. As with other types of work, you could hire independent contractors and negotiate the price.


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