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2013年将是手机游戏的狂欢还是幻觉?

发布时间:2013-01-18 18:01:50 Tags:,,,

作者:Zoya Street

问题:在2012年,免费手机游戏都表现非常好,好到几乎所有人都表示自己在这个领域已经有所成就并愿意在这个领域扎根。曾经的主机游戏开发大军都已经一心扑向手机游戏了。

那么这能有什么问题呢?2013年会成为手机游戏再创辉煌的一年,还是因为新商业的势头衰退、幻想破灭的开发者们纷纷退出而变成破产的一年?简而言之,我们在2013年会遭遇手机游戏的低谷期吗?

Mobile-Gaming(from mashable.com)

Mobile-Gaming(from mashable.com)

回答:

Anthony Pecorella(Kongregate公司制作人)

我曾经与几位过去从事游戏机游戏的开发者共事,现在他们都转向免费游戏了。目前我可以说的是他们知道如何制作有趣的游戏,但并不是在所有方面都能做得好,比如留存率和赢利。结果是,有趣的游戏往往难以赢利和建立玩家基础。

有些开发者能够渡过难关,做出成功的游戏,但也有些开发者情况不妙,特别是耗费这么大的投入后。免费游戏一旦存活下来就获得的一个优势是,开发者可以调整和改进它,所以即使一开始的发布工作没做好,也不等一切都玩完了。但我认为游戏机开发者必须理解的是,他们的知识和技能在很大程度上已经不能满足创造一款免费游戏的要求了。我确实希望看到曾经的主机开发者们不会遭遇太多失败——但愿有些游戏通过重新设计就能复活,就像《Lord of the Rings Online》一样。

但从乐观的方面说,这意味着免费网页和手机游戏的质量有望提高。Facebook三五年前的那些劣质画面已经开始淘汰了,甚至出现了新的农场游戏如《Hey Day》和《Farmville 2》,图像是3D的,动画也流畅很多。

行业水平还在上升,有才能的和有经验的主机开发者,借助如 Flash 11、 Unity和Unreal等不断进步的技术,为这些平台树立新标准。

在这个过程中,一定会遇到困难,我们将看到越来越多公司被并购,小型和独立开发工作室将更难在手机游戏领域生存。但对于玩家,这意味着整个游戏行业可能会提供更好的、更高品质的游戏。

Darren Jobling(Eutechnyx首席运营官)

我认为在2013年我们将突然陷入手机游戏的低谷,但也会有些许反弹。

作为游戏机开发者的开发商,Eurocom的失败对不少人来说是个很大的打击。然而,许多主机游戏团队完全不能正视行业的改革,最终会不幸地付出代价。

但是,灾难过后将诞生更精悍、更百折不挠的新开发者,他们将抓住机会避免重蹈覆辙。

Stuart Dredge(《卫报》记者)

我悲观地看到,许多确实不错的游戏在2012年赢利不佳;而蹩脚的游戏反而大赚一笔。但可喜的是,在这两个极端之间,仍有一些游戏叫好又叫座。

再回到消极的方面,我真的很不确定2013年免费社交游戏行业就这么急着接纳真钱赌博机制。不是因为我认为赌博很邪恶,就本身而言,游戏和赌博之间的界线似乎很明显——不同的行业、不同的规则、与玩家产生的不同关系……

与早期的社交游戏相比,赌博游戏有趣是因为它们是沟通朋友交流的渠道——作为社交媒介,这种说法现在听起来很可鄙。Zynga等公司这么热衷于真钱赌博是因为他们认为这样能加强社交联系?还是因为他们认为这样能赚大钱?

我的想法有点儿混乱了,可能是因为我在这方面的认识还不成熟,但“不确定”是最准确的词:我认为赌博自有史以来就是一种社交行业——打扑克、赌马等,但免费游戏披上真钱赌博的嫁衣与社交游戏结为一家,让我觉得很卑鄙。

Andy Payne(Appynation首席执行官)

我们于2011年6月成立AppyNation,11月正式运营,当时我们有6个游戏开发团队,他们都希望不依赖传统的发行商而自己搞发行工作。我们自然而然地转向手机游戏,并积累了大量经验,有的令我们倍受激励,有的让我们精神振奋,有的则让我们非常困扰。

我们建立公司以后,免费游戏已经占领手机平台了,并且品质不断提升。虽然我们仍在学习,但如果我们还留在游戏机领域,我们也不会有今天了。商业模式、分配渠道和消费者都改变了,并且仍在以惊人的速度变化着。工作室的规模是关键,理论上说,大总意味着可以开发更大型的游戏,但也意味着大成本;小意味灵活、不怕推倒重来,但无论如何,心态要好,我并不确信所有主机开发者都能相信已经和即将发生的事。

今年,将会有更多主机开商和发行商因为墨守成规而破产。有些开发商将转向手机游戏,但转型困难,需要大量资本和调研时间。有些开发商直接受惠于Steam、GOG、Green Man和Get Games等数字服务,在PC方面仍然表现良好。PC与手机平台一样,在不断演变的过程中当然存在各种挑战,但就是因此才能保持生机。

令人振奋的是,在英国,有许多曾经从事主机游戏的开发商转型成功了。我认为还会有更多华丽转身的榜样。

虽然好游戏永远不嫌多,但你不可能玩遍所有好游戏。眼看着市场越来越壮大,这些公司每个季度得通过连接设备销售上百万份游戏,你要么咬紧牙关撑下去,要么接受不可避免的转型。一旦你进入手机游戏领域,你就没有回头路了。

Eric Seufert(Grey Area营销及客户开发主管)

我认为媒体对《CSR Racing》和《Clash of Clans》的报道背后的深意是隐隐承认“免费模式的科学”,这会提醒主机开发者在制定可靠的产品策略以前不要武断地投身于手机免费游戏市场。我认为任何有能力的工作室总监在没有意识到免费模式的复杂性以前都不会参与或看到那个报道。如果有的话,这些成功游戏的媒体报道可能已经说服主机开发者不要涉足免费模式,而改走Square Enix的路线——在iOS平台上高价出售主机品质的游戏。

Will Luton(手机、社交和免费游戏顾问)

这与本周的《Mobile Mavens》专题文中提出的问题类似,那篇文章表示所有人都认为手机游戏玩完了。

手机还会继续壮大:更多设备,更多玩家,更多赢利。只是赢利不会平均分配了。每一年都有唱反调的人告诉我今年的独立游戏会撞墙,我每次都否定了。但是今年,我犹豫了。

那些没有成功的工作室(不小众也不大众)现在会发现它的处境仍然困难。游戏的制作品质仍然在提升,随之而来的是预算也不断上涨。一方面,独立工作室开始受雇于发行商,另一方面,存活下来的独立工作室越来越少,但项目越来越大。那些能满足客户要求的工作室将会发展得很好,但其他的工作室处境堪忧。对于习惯于大预算、向发行商负责的游戏机发开者来说,这是一个机遇。

呼应Stuart的观点:我不喜欢赌博与游戏相结合的想法。首先,这是我个人(完全主观的)的道德观,与商业无关;其次,我认为现存的赌博公司会将纯赌博事业做得更好。不过,我这么说并没有什么逻辑。

Harry Holmwood(Heldhand顾问)

对于游戏业,2013年将成为继80年代的大崩溃之后的最艰难的一年。但它也是光明未来的新起点。我敢说,在5年以内,现在最强大的十家游戏制作公司将有三分之一不复存在。

数字发行渠道导致游戏价格螺旋式下降,现在甚至让游戏“比免费还免费”(也就是倒贴,出钱让玩家来玩免费游戏)。大量风险投资和公开募股的资金先是涌向Facebook游戏,然后又转向手机游戏。这已经导致用户获得成本直线上升,因为大公司发狠劲要成功。同时,成千上万的小型开发商开始制作自己的手机游戏——做得最好的会成功,但绝大部分会失败。这两件事(太多游戏以收买玩家为竞争手段)共同导致2013年的极端波折。到年底,我希望状况会有所缓和,那些实力尚存的开发商在稍微稳定下来的市场中仍然有能力做游戏。但可能在这一年的时间内会有不少人退出游戏行业。

玩家人数仍在上涨。我们不得不指望欧美游戏能在新市场中找到受众——因为这才是最大的增长点。我认为掌握着制作触感、精美游戏的技术的欧美公司与其他公司仍然是不同的,那些能利用自身优势又能开发出新受众的公司将获得巨大成功。来自我们一度忽视的地区的大公司,如DeNA、Tencent、GREE和Wargaming.net等制作出一系列新的大型游戏,他们的成功给我们上了一堂有意义的课,使我们看到游戏行业的经济力量正转向哪里。

许多游戏试图复制2012年的成功作品,但大多不得要领:采纳大会建议和着眼于历史性销售数据才是去年的行动指南,但对于决定今年的行动意义不大。

我们还将看到消费者对免费模式表现出两重态度,既有厌倦又有热情。玩家们对2011年的越来越雷同的免费游戏感到厌倦,但硬核玩家对《英雄联盟》等游戏的热情有增无减,这提醒开发商们硬核免费游戏也许是一条出路。

我认为(希望)越来越多游戏能在不遵循虚拟货币模式的情况下获得良好收益。那种模式没有什么错,但并不适合所有类型的游戏。《行尸走肉》是付费游戏的好榜样,它的ARPU(每用户平均收入)和转化率(从非付费玩家变成付费玩家)非常高。大众融资网站Kickstarter的存在表明,人们乐意提前为他们确实喜欢的产品付费——即使这种产品没还做出来。

2013年已经有“手机游戏年”的趋势。无论是软件平台还是新游戏机,似乎每个人都使出了看家本领。人们逐渐忘任何游戏平台的成功都取决于游戏本身这个事实,直到他们的“建立就能成功”的策略失败了,他们才意识到一切都太迟了。

最后,我认为在这场竞争中的明智玩家会更加看重跨平台,以减少风险。我们都祈祷不会有人收购Unity,然后完全破坏这个模式,就像十年前的EA和它的Renderware引擎。

Tadhg Kelly(Jawfish Games创意总监)

我不认为手机游戏的发展已经到达极限了,但我认为成功越来越倾向于那些持“平板优先”战略的人。平板电脑现在的热门程度已经达到人人都承认它是一个名副其实的游戏平台,并且这个平台还有发展空间。我还认为,Android终于迎来它的时代了(特别是考虑到像Ouya这种微游戏机的出现),所以Android也有成长空间。

然而,我觉得免费/社交游戏将会落入与它在Facebook上时一样的停滞状态。“曝光”方案将开始显出价值,我有一点儿担心苹果会对它采取抑制措施。

Martin Darby(Remode创始人)

上述的许多观点我都同意。

我也不认为手机游戏到头了,但我确实觉得在2013年,资历浅的手机和在线游戏工作室的视界将开始闭合:如果你正在开发新的原创游戏,那么你就是在挑战越来越高的品质标杆,这意味着更多预算;如果你选择做雇用项目,那么你就是在对抗与那些建立时间更长、成就更大、市场更广的公司。

从开发过程、员工和经验来看,我们的工作室都不再是三年以前的样子了;现在,就多学科的效力而言,两个人的工作室也能参与游戏市场的竞争。我不是说我们一定可靠,而是我认为你将(越来越)需要一个能规避风险的主题。在很大程度上可以说,历史正在用新一代人才重复历史。

Tadhg说得对,平板电脑可能就是这个主题,但还不够成熟。我最近刚买了一部iPad mini,我觉得是个不错的游戏设备(游戏邦注:多种功能,不浪费手机电池,大屏幕,大容量),它在整个游戏市场上开辟出一片新的中等硬核领域,而在它两端的是,代表休闲的手机和代表硬核的主机设备。

我希望2013年将是游戏业的分水岭。

Oscar Clark(Applifier倡导者)

2012年是辉煌的一年,很难想象手机游戏居然会在这一年收获这么多成功。但我们往往忘记了,在越来越多的成功的传奇之间,失败的故事也不少。

Stuart对可疑的免费游戏的成功感到担忧仍然是有根据的,从达尔文进化论的角度出发,我想免费游戏会灭绝——但风险是,这些开发商们会为了开发出更好的游戏而毁掉。

我认为这些野蛮的免费游戏会灭亡,部分是因为曾经从事主机游戏开发的团队大量进入手机游戏领域。这不是一个新现象,但它发生的规模空前大,因为独立游戏的开路先锋已经表明,让他们成功的市场还是有的。

这些团队带来的是,理解什么叫品质、传达和对游戏的爱。

然而,他们要学习的地方还有很多。

许多人仍然拒绝免费模式——甚至仍然认为它是邪恶的。直到他们第一次在付费模式中惨遭失败。甚至之后许多人又遭遇了免费模式的失败,因为他们没有理解游戏(包括关卡)本身是一种留存策略——而不是靠出售使玩游戏变得更有趣的东西。他们还往往不能理解免费游戏是一种服务,需要维护以及玩家有生命周期。如果你习惯于开发多年的项目创造一次爆发式的成功,那么你就会难适应现在的游戏市场。现在的游戏开发者要创造独特的游戏,必须不仅具有独立自主和灵活变通的心态,还要具备游戏机游戏的开发知识。

将会有许多工作室失败,这会引发新一轮并购,也许甚至会导致新的发行模式,而不再像以前一样依赖风险投资的钱。但我认为会随之产生新玩家和非常不同的术语。当然,他们还需要免费游戏顾问如Tadhg、Nicholas、Will和我的专业知识。

像平时一样,我不太认同Tadhg关于“平板优先”的观点,但目前看来它不算一个糟糕的策略。到2013年底,我们就接近次世代游戏机的热身期了。我坚信,关注的焦点会是,“个人的”屏幕如何与“共享的”屏幕产生互动,在我们传输不同设备(如手机、7吋平板、10吋平板、PC、游戏机甚至智能电视)上最好的体验以前,我们需要一种“服务器第一”的方式。

最后,赌博……我不想说。它不仅不是社交体验(反对Stuart的观点为),而且它的模式、规则和游戏心态都是非常不同的。对于一些公司来说它是非常有利可图,但有利可图的程度被夸大了,因为许多人都误解了数字……玩家在支付98%奖励的老虎机上消费100美元,然后用赢来的所有钱再投资,从理论上看,其总支出很可能超过4700美元。

Andrew Smith(Spilt Milk工作室创始人)

作为一家制作原创游戏的小公司的所有人,我感到恐慌。但无论再担忧,我也要实话实说。

我认为平板电脑是一个特别的市场,今年将继续壮大,而死在手机游戏上的工作室会比成功的更多。不过,在任何风云变幻的市场上,这种现象是意料之中的。

我仍然专注于平板和PC(换而言之,硬核/中等硬核的游戏玩家),正在用一种大公司无法做到的方式为我的游戏建立玩家基础。关于平板/手机,令人沮丧的事是,因为各种原因在我和我的玩家之间总隔着一层困惑和摩擦,而在PC上是不会发生这种事的。我只能靠灵活和与玩家的一对一关系在竞争中取胜。但在其他所有方面,大公司都何以轻易地把我的工作室挤出市场。

也就是说,我坚信许多公司失败了是因为他们以主宰市场为目标。当你意识到只要你够敏感,就可以用更少的回报换取更大的成功时,那么事情就没那么难办,竞争也不会那么激烈了。

我认为,许多已经成功了的手机/免费游戏公司还会再接再励,可能有两三家新公司会达到惊人的高度,而其他公司就惨了。

Mark Sorrell(Hide & Seek开发总监)

因为我曾经从事“在法律上属于赌博”的行业,所以我思考了多年,认为有很大的可能性会出现赌博/游戏的交叉产品。我得说,这种产品要出现的主要难题是,同时具备这两方面的经验的人太少了。

很大程度上,赌博公司对社交游戏一无所知,社交游戏公司对赌博也一窍不通。例外(Zynga是最接近的)是有的,但这二者的杂交公司太逗了,钱才是他们的内在动机。

尽管社交赌博游戏一般不属于这一类交叉产品,但也并不非常有趣,无论与钱有没关系,都是将简单的机制略加修改和提炼出来的。

至于免费游戏,我们将在这个领域看到更多重量级选手,不只是在手机平台上。从“游戏作为服务”的角度说,免费游戏也许让开发商们分心了,将其作为一种绝妙的赢利手段;但从创意和生产(商业)的角度看,它是很难解决的游戏服务的产物。如果你可以使用免费模式,你几乎肯定会赚钱。现在那几乎就是一门科学了。

另外,那也很可能是个最大的难题。因为免费游戏的赢利技术已经非常高深了,而且只会越来越高深,自然而然地,可以获利的余地也越来越紧,这对大公司来说可能是一个更大的问题。

独立开发者总是在无法预料的事情上打赌,尽管概率极低,从而获得巨大的成功。

我显然同意Tahdg的说法。本地多人模式作为一种游戏辅助,而不是硬件,对于本地游戏,玩家而不是屏幕才是我们关注的东西;本地游戏可以创造关于玩家的故事,这些故事让玩家在这种媒体上有话题可说。接下来的几年,关于玩家的故事才是真正会实现突破性成功的地方,更别说这一年。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Will 2013 be the year of disillusionment for mobile?

by Zoya Street

Question:

In 2012, both F2P and mobile gaming did amazingly well, until pretty well everyone would admit that they have their upsides and are here to stay. Legions of ex-console developers have dived into mobile.

How much of a problem is that? Will 2013 be a year of further success, or will it be the year of bankruptcies as new businesses fail to take off and their disillusioned founders quit. In short, are we going to hit the trough of disillusionment for mobile in 2013?

Answers:

Anthony Pecorella Producer for Virtual Goods Games at Kongregate

I’ve worked with a few ex-console developers moving over to free to play and what I’d say so far is that they know how to make very fun games, but aren’t always oriented well towards things like retention and monetization.  The result in some cases is a tremendously fun experience that has a hard time making money or building an audience.

Some devs have been able to turn the corner and generate a successful title, but for others things are looking a bit more grim, especially after such a large investment.  One of the advantages of live games is that they can be modified and tweaked to improve metrics, so it’s certainly not the end of the world to have a bad launch.  But I think it’s important for console developers to understand that their expertise and skills are in many cases not entirely sufficient for creating a successful free to play game.  I do expect that we will see a few massive failures coming out of former console developers – hopefully some can be saved through a re-design, much like Lord of the Rings Online was.

More optimistically though, this is hopefully an indicator of increased quality coming to the free to play browser and mobile markets. The cheap look of Facebook games 3 – 5 years ago has already become obsolete, with even new farming games like Hey Day and Farmville 2sporting 3D graphics and smooth animation.  The bar is rising, and the talent and experience of console developers, combined with improving technology from Flash 11, Unity, Unreal, etc. will help set new standards on these platforms.

There will likely be a some hard lessons learned in the process, and we will see more consolidation and increased difficulty for small and indie studios in the mobile space, but for the consumer this will hopefully result in better, higher-quality content across the industry.

Darren Jobling COO of Eutechnyx

I think in 2013 we are going to hit the bottom of the trough of disillusionment with a bump, but also get some interesting bounce backs.

The failure of Eurocom, the console developer’s developer, was a major shock to many. However, a lot of console teams are in total denial about the changes in the industry and will unfortunately pay the ultimate price.

However, out of the ashes you’ll get smaller, leaner, more iterative start-ups capable of taking advantage of the opportunities that escaped their parents…

Stuart Dredge Journalist at The Guardian

The pessimist in me thinks we’ll see lots of really good games that don’t make money in 2012, and lots of really shitty cynical games that make a lot of cash. But, happily, in between there’ll be some really good games that make lots of money and push things on.

But back to the pessimist, I am genuinely unsettled about the F2P and social games industry’s dash towards real-money gambling in 2013. Not because I think gambling is evil, as such, more that the boundaries between gaming and gambling seem sensible – different industries, different regulation, different relationship with players…

And compared to the earlier days of social gaming, when the talk was all about how these games were exciting because they were the channel for more communication with your friends – play as social agent etc. – it just feels so grubby. Are Zynga etc. so keen on doing real-money gambling because they think that will strengthen our social connections? Or because they think it will make them a shedload of money?

My thinking is a bit fuzzy and possibly naive in this area, but ‘unsettled’ is the most accurate word: I get that gambling has often been social for its entire history – poker nights, sweepstakes etc – but the rush of some elements of the F2P industry to marry social gaming with real-money gambling feels grubby to me.

Andy Payne CEO of Appynation

When we formed AppyNation in June 2011 and started in earnest in Nov 2011, we formed it on the basis of 6 games development teams wanting to take control of their own publishing and not rely on established traditional publishers. We naturally steered towards mobile and have learned so many lessons it has been both inspiring and invigorating as well as challenging.

Since we started, most mobile has gone F2P and content is relentless and improving all the time. Lessons are being learned, but had we continued in the console space, well we would not be here now. Business models, distribution and consumers have all changed and will continue to change at an unforgiving pace. Size is key. Big means you can deliver bigger games, theoretically, but it also means bigger costs. Small can mean agile and iterative but the mindset has to be right and I am not convinced all console developers have truly grasped what has and continues to happen.

This year will see more console developers and publishers who stick to the old ways go bust. Some will make the transition to mobile, but the learning curve is steep and you need some money and plenty of time to learn. Some developers can still make a good living working on the PC and going direct via Steam, GOG, Green Man, Get Games and all of those digital services. The PC like the mobile platforms are constantly evolving which presents challenges of course, but keeps them vibrant.

What is heartening to see is so many ex console games developers in the UK make the change and get success. I think there will be some more examples for sure.

You can never have enough great games, although one cannot play them all! With the market growing via connected devices selling by the millions each quarter you just have to bite the bullet and make that change or face the inevitable truth. Once you go mobile you never go back.

Eric Seufert Head of Marketing and Acquisition at Grey Area

I think the implicit acknowledgement of the “science of freemium” that was just below the surface in the media coverage of CSR Racing and Clash of Clans will prevent console developers from jumping haphazardly into the mobile free-to-play market without a cogent product strategy. I don’t think any competent studio director could have participated in or observed that discourse without becoming cognizant of the sophistication of the F2P model. If anything, media coverage of these successful titles may have convinced console developers to avoid the free-to-play model and go the Square Enix route of releasing console-quality games on iOS at a high price point.

Will Luton Games Consultant for mobile, social and F2P

Similar question to this week’s Mobile Mavens [post at Pocketgamer], which in itself suggests that everyone thinks the party is over.

Mobile will continue to grow: More devices, more players, more money. Just the money won’t be as evenly distributed. Every year naysayers have told me it’s the year indies hit the wall and every year I’ve disagreed. This year I find that harder to do.

Those that don’t have success (either a niche or a community) now will find it continually difficult. Production quality and, in turn budgets, are rising. Studios are turning to work for hire, of which there’s continually fewer, but increasingly bigger, projects. Those studios that do client work well will flourish, but others flounder, and it is the opportunity for the console devs used to big budgets and being beholden to publishers.

Echoing Stuart’s point: I don’t like the idea of gambling and gaming mixing. Firstly it’s a personal (and entirely subjective) moral view, not a business one, but secondly I think existing gambling companies will just do gambling as pure gambling better. But that’s not based on very sound logic.

Harry Holmwood Consultant at Heldhand

2013′s going to be the toughest year the industry’s seen since the crash in the 80s.  It’s also going to be the starting point for an incredibly exciting future.  I bet that, in five years’ time, at least a third of the top ten game producers will be companies that don’t even exist yet.

The downward price spiral that digital distribution facilitates has now got us to the point where games are ‘freer than free’ (in that it costs money to get someone to play your free game).  Vast amounts of VC and IPO money poured first into Facebook and then, once that started looking rocky, into mobile. This has pushed user acquisition costs sky high, as bigger companies try to brute force their way to success.  At the same time, tens of thousands of small developers have started making their own mobile titles – the very best will succeed, but the vast majority will fail. These two things (too many games competing to buy users) will combine to make for an extremely rocky year. By the end of the year, I hope things will have calmed down a bit, and those who are still able to make games will be doing so in a more stable market. But there will probably be a lot less people working in games in a year’s time than there are today.

The number of people playing games will continue to rise. We have to hope that western games can find audiences in new markets – because that’s where most of the growth will come from. I think the expertise western companies have in making tactile, polished products still sets them apart from those elsewhere, and those that capitalise on that while opening up new audiences can enjoy huge success.  The fact that some of the biggest new games in games – DeNA, Tencent, GREE, Wargaming.net are from territories that we may have ignored in the past is a valuable lesson in where the industry (and wider world) economic strength is heading.

We’ll see thousands of games trying to copy 2012′s successes and mostly missing the point that following conference advice and looking at historic sales data is a great way to work out what you should have done last year, but less useful in determining what you should do next.

We’ll also see both consumer fatigue and increased enthusiasm for F2P.  Fatigue for yet more me-too games using 2011 F2P skinner boxes, but increased enthusiasm from the hardcore gamer, as games like League of Legends warm them up to the idea that maybe it is for them, after all.

I think (well, hope) that we’ll see more games that monetize well without following a virtual currency model – not that there’s anything wrong with one, but it doesn’t suit all the types of games that everyone wants to play. The Walking Dead is a great example of a premium priced game, with very high ARPU and conversion rate (if you started at the free episode, which I did). The very existence of Kickstarter demonstrates that people are willing to pay premium prices, in advance, for products they really want – even if they don’t exist yet.

2013 is already shaping up to be the year of the new platform.  Whether a software platform or a new console, it seems everyone’s got one up their sleeve.  The fact that success of any games platform depends on the games will be forgotten by many until it’s too late and their ‘build it and they will come’ strategy falls down.

Finally – the smart players, I think, will increasingly be looking cross-platform to reduce risk.  We’ll all cross our fingers that someone doesn’t acquire Unity and completely break the model, like EA did with Renderware last decade.

Tadhg Kelly Creative Director at Jawfish Games

I don’t think that mobile has topped out, but I reckon it’s increasingly the developers who think tablet first that see success. Tablet is now at the point where everybody knows that it’s a real platform in its own right, and there’s more room to manoeuvre within it. I also fancy that Android’s time has come at last (particularly when you consider the emerging category of micro-consoles like the Ouya), so there’s likely room for growth there too.

However I also think that the current line of f2p/social games are going to fall into the same stagnant pattern as it did on Facebook. Discoverability solutions will also start to show their worth (or lack thereof), and I’m mildly concerned that Apple in particular might move against them.

Martin Darby Founder of Remode

I agree with many of the points raised.

I don’t believe mobile has topped out either but I do think that 2013 will be the year that the event horizon for mobile and online studio start-ups begins to close: if you are developing new IP then you are now competing with a dramatically rising quality bar, which means more money needed in the beginning; if you are trying to pitch for work-for-hire then you are now competing against companies who are no longer start-ups and have a better track record and more market presence.

If I look at the processes, people and experiences in our studio today there is no way that the Remode of three years ago/the two man start-up of today would be able to compete in terms of multi-discipline horsepower. I’m not saying we are infallible, more that I think you are going to (increasingly) need a proposition that is quite compelling to warrant the risk. In many ways it is history repeating itself with a new generation.

I do believe Tadhg is right that Tablet may be such a proposition that is not yet as matured. I recently bought an iPad mini and I think it is a brilliant gaming device (multiple uses, doesn’t waste phone battery, immersive screen size, more storage) that opens up a new mid-core market segment, where mobile is more casual and consoles are hardcore.

I am expecting this to be a watershed year.

Oscar Clark Evangelist at Applifier

2012 was a fascinating year and its hard to think of a time where Mobile has had so much success and hype.  Its easy to forget that whilst there are an increasing number of success stories; there are still just as many failures.

Stuart’s concern about the triumph of the cynical F2P game is still very valid and its something which I hope will die out from Darwinian causes – but the risk is that these developers will spoil the well for the better games.

The reasons I think these aggressive F2P games will die out is linked before they kill off the model is partly due to the influx of old-skool Console trained developer teams entering mobile.  Its not a new phenomena but its happening on a scale that we haven’t seen before because the indie trail-blazers have demonstrated that there is a market to be won.

What these teams bring is an understanding of quality of delivery and a love of play.

However, they have a lot to learn.

Many still seem to reject the F2P model – yes even still think its evil.  Until their first major failure with a Premium game. Even then many will experience a failure in F2P because they will fail to understand that the game (including levels) itself is a retention strategy – instead we sell things that make the playing more fun. They also often fail to understand that F2P games are a service which requires maintenance and that players have a lifecycle. This isn’t an easy thing to adapt to if you are used to multi-year projects leading to a single gold-master release. Its going to take both the Indie-Agile mindset and the console expertise to create content worth featuring.

There will be a lot of failures and I suspect this will herald a new era of consolidation and perhaps even the rise of a new Publishing model rather than just a reliance on VC money; but I suspect with new players and very different terms. Of course they will also need the expertise of great F2P consultants like Tadhg, Nicholas, Will and myself ;0)

As usual I don’t quite agree with Tadhg’s perspective on ‘Tablet First’ but its not a bad strategy for now.  By the end of the year as we approach the warm up to next gen consoles I’m convinced the focus will be looking at how the ‘Personal’ screen interacts with the ‘Shared’ screen and this will need a ‘Server-First’ approach before we deliver the best experience separately on each device mode we have; Mobile, 7” Tablet, 10” Table, PC, Console even Smart TV.

Finally, Gambling… don’t get me started… Not only isn’t this a social experience (again as Stuart says) its a very different model with different regulation and moderation issues as well as a very different psychology of play.  Its going to be very profitable for some, but the scale is greatly exaggerated with many people misunderstanding the numbers… a user spending $100 with a 98% payout slot machine and reinvesting all their winnings can look on paper to have spent over $4700.

Andrew Smith Founder of Spilt Milk Studio

As a tiny company built around new IP, I’m terrified. But f*** worrying, frankly.

I see tablets as a unique market getting stronger this year, while mobile in general will kill off more studios than it supports. That’s just to be expected in any market that changes at such a rapid pace, though.

I’m keen to focus on tablet & PC (in other words, core/midcore gamers) and building a fanbase for my products in a way that larger companies can’t. The endlessly frustrating thing about tablet/mobile is that there’s always a layer of friction or obfuscation between me and my fans, something which the PC doesn’t experience, for myriad reasons. I can only compete through being nimble, and having a 1-1 relationship with customers. In every other area bigger companies will easily push me out of the market.

That said, I’m a firm believer that a lot of companies go out of business because they aim for the market domination. When you realise you can make a really successful business out of smaller returns, as long as you’re sensible, then things become a lot less stressful, and a lot less about competitiors.

I think we’ll see a lot of already-successful mobile/free-to-play companies doing even better, maybe two or three new companies reach amazing heights, and the rest will suffer.

Mark Sorrell Development Director at Hide & Seek

As I’ve come from a ‘gambling, but not in the legal sense’ background, Ive thought for years that there are great possibilities for gambling/gaming crossover products. I’d say the main problem with their coming into existence is that there are so few people with experience of both.

Largely, gambling companies know bugger all about social gaming and social gaming companies know bugger all about gambling. There are exceptions (Zynga being the obvious nearest case) but true hybrids are interesting. Money is one hell of an extrinsic motivator.

Social gambling products are not generally of this sort though, and are just not very interesting, money bearing or not, being rehashes of well understood mechanics, endlessly refined.

As to F2P, well the oil tankers are pretty much going to be completing their turns during this year and we’ll see a lot more heavy players in the area, not just on mobile either. F2P is a bit of distraction, perhaps, from the real issue , which is Games as Service. F2P is a great way of monetising Games as Service, but – fro a creative and production (and thus business) perspective – it’s the creation of a compelling game service which is the nut that needs cracking. If yo can do that, you can almost certainly monetise it. That bit is almost a science now.

And, indeed, that may well be the biggest problem. As F2P monetisation techniques are pretty damn precise already, and only getting more accurate, naturally margins get squeezed tighter and tighter, and this may well be one of the bigger problems for the bigger boys.

The indies can always roll the dice on something unexpected and, through sheer weight of numbers, come up with some great new success.

And, obviously enough, I agree with Tahdg re: local multiplayer. As was aid, we play games, not hardware, and local games, where the people, not the screen, is the focus of the thing, can create stories that are about people, which gives them a leg-up in terms of how they can be discussed in the media (stories about people!) that they could well end up being the real break-out success of the next few years, let alone this one.(source:gamesbrief)


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