去年我们所经历的最大主题之一便是硬核游戏在触屏设备上的发行。首先苹果在iPhone 6发布的时候推荐了Super Evil Megacorp的《虚无荣耀》，随后《炉石传说》又出现在手机设备上，似乎中核玩家们开始回归“没有计时器的”硬核游戏上了。但从2014年以来排行榜最上方的位置还是未出现变化。Supercell的《海岛奇兵》和《部落战争》以及Machine Zone的《战争游戏》仍然主导着中核游戏市场。King也仍然通过两款游戏让玩家不断粉碎糖果。老虎机游戏也不断巩固着自己作为畅销游戏的地位，并且我也看到Kabam的《Contest of Champions》在发行后的前7个月便赚取了1亿美元的巨额收益。
2016年Supercell将发行《Clash Royale》，我也相信他们将通过像《炉石传说》等元游戏的盈利（而不是创造和训练计时器）重新去定义中核游戏。在我看来《Clash Royale》将对正产业产生巨大的影响。我认为《Clash Royale》将比《炉石传说》发展得更好，因为它一开始是面向手机平台进行设计。根据我的经验，《Clash Royale》既能维持游戏玩法的深度和策略，也将通过删除《炉石传说》中基于回合制的游戏玩法而大大缩减每个游戏回合的长度。
在过去几年里，有些工作室宣传触屏设备最终将把游戏带向硬核玩家。这些公司通常是那些创造了AAA级游戏的开发者所创建的，并且他们都致力于将PC/主机游戏体验带向触屏设备。像Hammer & Chisel，Industrial Toys和Super Evil Megacorp等公司都认为硬核游戏玩家希望能在自己的触屏设备上玩他们在主机和PC上玩的那些游戏。
Super Evil Megacorp的《虚无荣耀》便是立基硬核游戏的典型例子。自从发行以来《虚无荣耀》便获得了像苹果，亚马逊，Mobcrush和Twitch等快速发展的平台的支持。然而在一年后，这款游戏却很难再挤进前100畅销游戏榜单内了。说实话，这款游戏取得了巨大的发展并且应该是赚钱的，但是因为获得太多支持，所以人们对它的期望值也非常高。另一方面，像《炉石传说》和《坦克世界闪电战》等硬核游戏已经在触屏设备上获得了巨大的商业成功。这些游戏的控制相对简单些，并且每个游戏回合也都不是很长。
总之Super Evil Megacorp的成功远比那些被高度吹捧的初创企业大得多。例如Hammer & Chisel在尝试着发展多人游戏《永恒命运》一年后便被迫放弃游戏开发了。
Kabam的《Marvel Contest of Champions》便是最成功的一款基于IP的游戏。这款游戏有效解决了应该规格过大，太耗电以及基于强大IP和华丽图像的复杂元游戏等问题。
Kabam的《Marvel Contest of Champions》，艺电的《星球大战：银河英雄》，Glu的《金卡戴珊：好莱坞》和Zynga的《Wizard of Oz Slots》都是成功使用IP的典型例子。如果缺少了IP，这些游戏可能就不会像现在这么突出了。
像《虚无荣耀》等硬核游戏并非唯一触碰着触屏设备技术极限的游戏。像《极品飞车：无极限》，《Marvel Contests of Champions》和《泰坦黎明》等游戏也是过去几年里设备和游戏不断发展的证据。
Kabam便声称他们将“转变策略为每一款游戏投入更多资源。”他们已经体会到了《Contest of Champions》等热门游戏以及《星球大战：起义》等失败作品所带来的混合结果。而这里存在的问题便是，高产值的失败是更加昂贵的失败。
《Candy Crush Saga》是在手机平台上维持时间最长的最热门游戏。其续集《Candy Crush Soda Saga》也是一款出现在排行榜前十名的热门游戏。而作为第三次迭代的《Candy Crush Jelly Saga》仍然能够出现在排行榜前20名内。但是基于这样的趋势，第四款游戏有可能只能维持在前50名榜单中了。
6 Predictions For Mobile Games in 2016
by Michail Katkoff
One of the biggest themes of last year was the launch of core games on touchscreen devices. First, Apple featured Super Evil Megacorp’s Vainglory in their iPhone 6 launch then Hearthstone launched on mobile devices, and it seemed like mid-core players would start migrating to “timer free” core games. But things on the top of the charts stayed relatively unchanged from 2014. Supercell’s Boom Beach and Clash of Clans still dominated the mid-core market together with Machine Zone’s Game of War. King kept players crushing candy in two of their games. Slots games solidified themselves as top grossers and we saw an IP game enter the top ten as Kabam’s Contest of Champions made $100M in it’s first 7 months on the market.
I don’t predict there to be huge changes in 2016 as the market has matured to a point, where top publishers hold on to their spots by creating entry barriers through massive advertising spend. I do believe, however, that core games will affect the mid-core market, though in a way they didn’t expect. I also believe that alternative growth platforms, such as streaming services, will become more viable drivers of user base.
1. Mid-Core Games Will Be Redefined
Clash of Clans launched almost four years ago in June 2012. Boom Beach, which soon will turn two years old, having launched in March 2014. These two games by Supercell have pretty much defined, evolved and dominated what we know as the mid-core games category on touchscreen devices.
Despite light incremental innovation to actual gameplay over the last four years, the game loops of mid-core games have stayed essentially the same: build a base, raise an army, and battle other players. We’ve taken this loop as a given for years, and in the process exhausted players on building and troop training timers.
Blizzard’s Hearthstone, which launch on mobile in mid-2014, was the first game that successfully introduced a new type of game loop that didn’t involve building or training timers. Hearthstone opened a path to a new type of game loop where players don’t have to grind to get to the fun part. Instead of building and training timers Hearthstone incentivizes players to invest their time in learning and perfecting new strategies with different card decks.
In 2016 Supercell will launch Clash Royale, which I believe will redefine mid-core games by monetizing through meta-game, just like Hearthstone, instead of building and training timers. In my mind, Clash Royale will have a massive effect on the industry. I believe that Clash Royale will fair better than Hearthstone because it was designed for mobile first. In my experiences with it, Clash Royale has been able to hold on to the depth and strategy of gameplay while at the same time shortening the session length by removing turn-based gameplay of Hearthstone.
I believe that Supercell’s Clash Royale, which is currently in soft launch in Canada, is bound to reform the mid-core games. This synchronous player-versus-player battlers has ditched daunting base building and embraced a gacha driven meta-game as the main driver of monetization.
I predict that in 2016 the asynchronous build and battle games will start to become outdated, as Clash Royale will launch a new wave of synchronous PvP battlers which attempt to monetize with their meta-game instead of through rushing timers.
2. Mobile Streaming Platforms Will Grow
During the last year we’ve seen Twitch, Mobcrush and Kamcord, among others, invest into the growth of mobile games broadcasting. Games like Vainglory have been able to use these platforms to boost their growth due to their e-sport focused synchronous player-versus-player gameplay.
Streaming platforms, such as Mobcrush, will offer new growth avenues as mid-core games focus on battle instead of building.
I predict that the redefinition of mid-core games from asynchronous build and battle to synchronous player-versus-player battlers will benefit mobile streaming platforms. Not to mention the ever increasing CPIs, which force developers to seek for alternative growth drivers.
3. Core Games Will Remain a Niche
Over the past couple of years, several studios have proclaimed that touchscreen devices are finally ready for “real games” aimed at core players. These companies, usually founded by developers behind AAA titles, aim at delivering a PC/console experience on touchscreen devices. Companies like Hammer & Chisel, Industrial Toys, and Super Evil Megacorp argue that core gamers want to play the same type of games on their touchscreen devices that they play on their consoles and PCs.
Companies that create core games for touchscreen devices like to position themselves (jokingly) as the rescuers, whose mission is to liberate players from the horrible freemium games available on mobile devices.
The problem with their position is that PCs and consoles differ from touchscreen devices not only through controls, but also through usage patterns. As we very well know, median sessions on mobile tend to be relatively short, well under ten minutes. Mobile users also tend to prefer easy controls that don’t require great amount of accuracy or fast reaction times.
Vainglory by Super Evil Megacorp is a great example of a niche core game. Since its initial release, Vainglory has received a tremendous amount of support from major growth platforms such as Apple, Amazon, Mobcrush and Twitch. Yet after a year of being live, the game is hardly cracking the top 100 grossing charts. To be fair, the game has grown, and is likely profitable, but with the amount of work and support it has received, the expectations are likely higher. On the other hand, core games which have seen commercial success on touchscreen devices, such as Hearthstone and World of Tanks Blitz, are designed with the mobile player in mind. Their controls are relatively simple and their session length is under control.
Core games like to position themselves against traditional mobile games and tout their controls. However, based on their lack of market success, perfected controls and lack of timers is not what players are looking for.
Overall, Super Evil Megacorp’s success is far better than other highly touted startups have experienced. For example Hammer & Chisel has been forced to pivot away from game development after trying to keep their MOBA, Fates Forever, alive and growing for a year.
I predict that as long as makers of core games for touchscreen devices continue to ignore learnings from casual and mid-core games, they will remain a niche.
Deconstructions of Core Games:
World of Tanks Blitz
Heroes of the Storm
The MOBA Market
4. More IP Based Games
Facing ever increasing user acquisition costs and a constant flood of new games to compete against, many developers on mobile are utilizing well known IPs to give their games an extra boost. The benefit of a strong IP is that it allows a game to stand out in the crowded app market while at the same time increasing its accessibility. Put simply, players are more willing to give the game the benefit of the doubt if they’re familiar with the IP.
Kabam’s Marvel Contest of Champions is one of the most successful IP based games. The game mitigates the issues of a large app size, heavy battery consumption and complicated meta-game with a strong IP and beautiful graphics.
Kabam’s Marvel Contest of Champions, EA’s Star Wars: Galaxyof Heroes, Glu’s Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Zynga’s Wizard of Oz Slots are all great examples of successful use of intellectual properties. Great in the sense that without an IP these games wouldn’t likely stand out but with a proper use of a brand they’re able to rise above and beyond their competitive titles.
I believe that in 2016 we’ll see more IP based games than last year. I also believe that the IPs will have less of an impact on each title than they did last year, as is already happening with the Star Wars IP. At the moment there are high production value Star Wars games from EA, Kabam and Disney in addition to dozens of other games from smaller developers. An oversaturation of IP based games combined with developers overpaying for the right to use those IPs will eventually balance itself by the end of this year.
More games finding success with an IP leads to the saturation of IPs in the market. For example, there are several Star Wars titles made by large publishers, all of them competing for the same Star Wars fans.
Deconstructions of IP Games:
Kim Kardashian Hollywood
Sim City: BuildIt
Marvel Contest of Champions
Need for Speed: No Limits
5. More High Production Value Games
Core games, such as Vainglory, are not the only ones pushing the technical limits of touchscreen devices. Games like Need for Speed: No Limits, Marvel Contests of Champions, and Dawn of Titans are all examples of how much the devices and the games have progressed in the last couple of years.
Games with high quality production values tend to get the top spot on Apple’s featuring carousel, which can be worth millions in user acquisition. The downside of a high production value is large app size, increased battery consumption, longer loading times, and slower content cadence. In other words, this means high production values tend to decrease the overall accessibility of the game.
EA’s Need for Speed: No Limits and Natural Motion’s Dawn of Titans are so beautiful that it’s hard to comprehend that they’re actually mobile games.
Kabam has publicly stated that they will be “shifting strategy to put more resources behind every game (source: Venture Beat)”. They’ve already experienced mixed results with hits like Contest of Champions and misses like Star Wards Uprising. The problem is that a high production value miss is just a much more expensive miss.
I believe that in 2016 we’ll see even more games with ever-higher production values. We’ll also witness once again that graphics don’t make a game successful no matter what the platform is. A game with poor gameplay and best-in-class production quality is destined to fail while a game with amazing gameplay can overcome poor graphics and succeed. That’s just how games have been always been.
6. King Will Continue Its Decline
Candy Crush Saga has been for the longest time the biggest game on mobile. It’s sequel, Candy Crush Soda Saga, is an impressive top ten hit. The third iteration of candy crushing, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, is a very good game hovering somewhere in top 20. Based on the last three candy crushers, the fourth iteration will likely continue the downward trend and end up as a solid top 50 game.
Candy Crush Saga was followed by Candy Crush Soda Saga after which Candy Crush Jelly Saga was launched. In addition to matching candy, King also launched a dozen similar candy colored puzzle games, each less successful than their predecessor.
Candy Crush is King’s biggest brand and it’s oversaturation and decline paints a picture of the company in general. King seems to be stuck in a mode of incremental innovation, as if they’re afraid to do anything new. While the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may have worked the past couple of years, the fast-moving world of mobile games is set to leave King behind. King’s conservative approach to game design is evident even with their acquired studios such as Z2Live. Z2Live’s biggest game is Paradise Bay, which is essentially Hay Day with 3D graphics, light story elements, and a tropical island theme. While it’s a very nice game overall, it offers nothing new to players who are tired of optimizing production of a farm and has struggled to stay in the top 50.
With the recent Activision purchase, you may think that King is destined to succeed, as they’ll now have all the IPs to take over the mid-core market. The problem is that pretty much all of the King’s games are puzzle games and in my experience cross-promoting players from a puzzle game into a simulation game doesn’t work. Puzzle game players are not interested in anything other than puzzle games. King’s players can crush candy in three different apps but they refuse to farm a single coconut in Paradise Bay.
The only way for King to stop its decline is to allow its studios to try something new. The company employs some of the best talent in the games industry (hello to my ex-Digital Chocolate colleagues in Singapore and Barcelona) that just needs to be set free to make great genre defining titles. If they don’t try something new soon, they will continue to see less success with each new title they release.（source：gamasutra）