Mobile Games Forum 2013

Published at Onislam.net.

Celebrating their 10th Anniversary, the Mobile Games Forum took place on the 23rd and 24th of January.

With 130 companies in the UK dedicated to mobile gaming, the industry is fast growing; made that much more relevant when we consider that in July of last year, the sale of smartphones overtook the sale of feature phones – a landmark transition reflecting the need to address the consumer’s desire for richer content.

Hesham al-Jehani (comScore), observed that in the EU5 countries (UK, Spain, Italy, France & Germany) this translates to a third of mobile users (72m) playing mobile games, with 18m playing daily. And with a 76% jump in ownership of tablets amongst mobile users between October 2011 and October 2012 (15.3m to 27m), it is of no surprise that 65% of tablet owners also play games; with the iPad accounting for 60% of the total tablet market in the EU5.

75% of mobile gamers are smartphone owners and half of smartphone owners use android devices for their gameplay. What’s interesting to observe is that nearly 80% of users download free games, with the third most popular category actually being card games. So when questioning ROI we see that 14% of mobile gamers made in-game purchases; cash, points, tokens, goods, added levels, and some even purchasing gifts for another – in the three months to October 2012, 400,000 purchased gifts for another!

With 36% of smartphone gamers recall seeing in-game adverts, comScore will be conducting research in Q1/Q2 of 2013 to evaluate the effectiveness of these adverts. This research will no doubt confirm what most of us already know, as summed in this quote from Sian Rowlands (Juniper Research):

“Juniper Research have spoken to a lot of the key players in the mobile games space for our upcoming report, and a key trend we keep hearing is that mobile advertising is going to change. Advertisers are finding banner ads ineffective as consumers become prone to ignoring them, so brands want a more effective method of reaching – and critically, engaging with – both potential and existing customers. Smartphones present a great opportunity for ad networks and brands, but the mobile advertising industry will be shaken up along the way.”

Indeed Ravi Karman (Trademob) observed that up to 50% of certain campaigns are guilty of mobile click fraud, for example, placing the code to click a banner advert, not only on, but near the banner, such that when clicking nearby one inadvertently registers a click.

Peter Warman (Newzoo), addressed the subject of single screen metrics in a multi-screen world, identifying 4 very different forms of engagement: the TV, the computer, the tablet and the phone, observing that 26% of Brits (8.7m) play on all four screens, 22% in the US. And of the 6.1m mobile gamer playing fathers in the US,  71% of them doing so for their children (it’s 46% for mothers).  But crucially he observed that a single screen receives only 30% of this spend, that is to say, to fully address the market a strategy ought to be multi-screen.

With a high churn of games, Paul Bowen (Tapjoy) observed that 2013 will be the year for re-engagement tools. That is, how can publishers bring consumers back to a game they have left, what incentives can be offered to deliver this, whether richer experiences, newer experiences, financial rewards, etc. Akin Babyigit (Facebook) shared that if a game is installed from an App center, 17% are likely to return in a week, and Facebook’s own efforts for re-engagement include book marking, which allows 60-80% of people to return with ease.

Indeed flipping this on it’s side, Ram Jalan (Getit), observed that an Indian yellow pages firm is launching a new service which repackages information discovery in a game, the gamification of information., to be launched Q1/Q2 of 2013.  While some in industry are seeking to bring consumers back to games, others are providing services that have become games as a means of retention and in this case, reward through discovery.

In his presentation Rob Fraser (Microsoft) shared some useful insight on how the cloud now becomes the ideal platform through which to deliver rich and instant gaming experiences. The crucial point being that a single app spans both devices and the cloud, such that when outside, you can start playing on your phone, when back home, you can pick up on your tv, later you can play on your computer or tablet. Whatever the experience, you are no longer restricted to a single device.

Oli Christie (Neon Play) touched on marketing games with a limited budget, a strategy which has landed them 7 UK number 1 games.  In utilising social media he restressed the change of Facebook’s newsfeed discovery where on average between 12-16% of content appears in respective newsfeeds. Though as Akin Babayigit (Facebook) observes, this doesn’t change the fact that 6-8 of the top grossing apps on GooglePlay or the Apple app store can be found on Facebook. Who further observed, that while there are 251m people playing games on their platform, we should view this as an opportunity to reach the remaining 750m who have yet to play games on their platform (myself being one of them!).

Following on, Marja Konttinen (Rovio) stressed that nobody wants their social media experience to be a sales channel, rather a community experience. Moreover, gamers aren’t necessarily browsing app-stores, they are engaging across different platforms, such as newspapers, tv, etc.

Indeed, perhaps one of the most interesting shared insights was that of misunderstanding the female gaming market and the opportunity surrounding this. Consider, that there are more than 1.5m paying female gamers walking around Next stores in the UK. How, if at all are they being addressed? What new business opportunities can be created to capture their interest?

Perhaps the best insight was a sentiment shared by many but elucidated by David Rose (We R Interactive) who spoke of creating a narrative over a different period of time. That is, a continuously evolving journey, which addresses multiple user cases, from those who play an hour at a time to those who interact in 2 minute, bites. In many ways this is the solution toted by David Bailey (Mediatonic) who presented Games As A Service where instead of building ‘a thing’ you build something which is ‘continuous’ – a model which is transforming the industry.

Making a game people can enjoy across multiple screens, across multiple platforms, that can be shared, enjoyed, even ad-free to avoid unnecessary accidental interruptions; while this may be defined as the Holy Grail, it is increasing what the consumer is seeking: a rich, engaging experience.

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