原文作者：Jon Jordan 译者：Megan Shieh
许多开发商都十分看好“移动电子竞技”的前景，相信它会发展成为手游行业中的主流之一。这其中也包括Super Evil Megacorp工作室，该工作室旗下的MOBA手游《虚荣（Vainglory）》刚刚结束了2017年年底在新加坡举行的电竞冠军赛，并宣布将在2018年开放5V5对战模式。
此外芬兰开发商Critical Force宣布，该公司旗下的射击游戏《关键行动（Critical Ops）》累计下载量突破了3000万次，而电竞投资人、《守望先锋》职业战队的老板Kevin Chou也加入了该公司的董事会。
除了这些较为“完整”的并购案例之外，还有一些其他例子。比如,Zynga斥资1亿美元收购了Peak Games旗下的所有棋牌游戏；而澳大利亚手游发行商Animoca Brands则在调整产品研发重心的同时，将旗下数百款休闲游戏分为两批售出。
就估值而言，西方公司的市值要小得多，但Rovio(市值10亿美元)和Next Games (2亿美元)于2017年在芬兰上市，而Mag Interactive (1.2亿美元)和Nitro Games(1千万美元)也在瑞典实现了上市。
来自土耳其的Peak Games也借鉴了自己之前在三消游戏中取得的成功，推出了全新游戏《卡通爆炸（Toon Blast）》，走上了《玩具爆破》先前开辟的道路，而Glu Mobile则利用一款带有PVP互动玩法的家装设计应用《Design Home》拓展了人们对游戏的定义，《Design Home》以及另一款同类游戏《Covet Fashion》占据了Glu Mobile总销售额的40%。
同样值得一提的还有Pocket Gems工作室推出的互动故事应用《Episodes》以及Pixelberry旗下的同类产品《选择（Choice）》，两款作品都在2017年间稳固盘旋在美国游戏营收榜上的Top 20。《Episodes》的良好表现致使Pocket Gems的大股东之一腾讯追加了9千万美元的投资，而Pixelberry则被韩国手游巨头Nexon收购。
iOS 11的推出致使App Store上涌现出了一批花样百出的AR游戏和应用程序（多数需要付费），等到安卓版的ARCore在2018年实现发布时，Google Play商店很有可能会再次出现这种情况。
Unlike previous years, there were no zingers in the world of mobile games during 2017.
That’s not to say nothing happened, of course.
Plenty did, but looking back, it was more a case of accelerating trends and future potential than headline-grabbing news such as Activision Blizzard’s $5.9 billion deal for King in 2015, or Nintendo’s first mobile game and Pokemon Go’s success in 2016.
So here are six of the year’s most significant trends; ones you’ll likely to see more of in 2018 too.
Is mobile eSports now a thing? Plenty of developers think so, and 2017 saw long term proponents such as Super Evil Megacorp finessing their activity. It’s just closed out the World Champions for its mobile MOBAVainglory in Singapore, also previewing the 5v5 mode that will launch next year.
Similarly Finnish developer Critical Force announced 30 million downloads of its Counter-Strike-inspired shooter Critical Ops, adding eSports investor and Overwatch League team owner Kevin Chou to its board.
But even if mobile eSport games don’t manage to stand out alongside the like of Overwatch, Dota 2 andLeague of Legends, plenty of regular mobile games with PVP modes – ranging from Clash Royale toSummoners War and Shadowverse - are claiming the eSport mantle as part of their regular in-game events schedule.
And that’s before we start to try an unpick what’s going on in China and what Tencent means when it says its $2 billion franchise Honor of Kings is an eSports title.
Given the success of the Switch, the pressure is off Nintendo when it comes to its still-relatively-new mobile operations. And perhaps that’s a good thing.
Super Mario Run was the most downloaded new game on Google Play in 2017, and has racked up over 200 million downloads across Android and iOS, but Nintendo still labels it a financial disappointment. RPG Fire Emblem has performed much better, generating over $100 million of revenue, but Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has only troubled the top grossing charts in Japan.
In that context, it could be the case that in FY17, as in FY16, Nintendo will make more money from licensing the Pokemon IP to Niantic, the developer of Pokemon Go ($160 million in FY16), than it makes from its own mobile games.
Smaller, more focused IPOs and M&As
While 2017 didn’t see any billion dollar acquisitions in the mobile game space, there was plenty of significant activity nevertheless.
Australian casino outfit Aristocrat dropped $500 million on Israel core developer Plarium, while Take-Two made a serious move into mobile with its $250 million acquisition of Spanish casual developer Social Point, and Korean publisher Nexon bought US studio Pixelberry for an undisclosed sum but one likely to be north of $100 million.
Aside from these ‘complete’ deals, however, another interesting trend were more focused acquisitions. For example, Zynga spent $100 million to buy Peak Games’ card and board game studio while Australian outfit Animoca Brands sold its casual games in two tranches so it could focus on other areas of its operations.
This commodification of business – the mark of a maturing market – was also reflected in a healthy stream of mobile game companies floating on various stock exchanges. The largest by far was South Korean publisher Netmarble, which buoyed by the local success of its Lineage 2: Revolution game, raised over $2 billion from its IPO and is now valued at $15 billion.
Western activity was much smaller in terms of valuations, but Rovio (mcap $1 billion) and Next Games ($200 million) successfully listed in Finland, while Mag Interactive ($120 million) and Nitro Games ($10 million) listed in Sweden. Expect more in 2018.
Although not as relevant as in the world of PC/console gaming, PUBG, and by extension battle royale, did cast a shadow over mobile games in 2017.
As with so many trends, this one was concentrated in China, which as well as providing the biggest audience for PUBG is also the biggest mobile game market. Unsurprisingly then, by the end of the year, app stores were awash with PUBG clones. NetEase released five, including a Terminator II-branded game, while Tencent scooped the official mobile version of PUBG, and then announced another official spin-off.
However, given touchscreens are not a natural environment for shooters, nor the length of each PUBGsession a good match in terms of mobile usage, and not forgetting no-one has yet demonstrated a successful F2P battle royale game, it will be interesting to see whether this trend is one more about the ongoing rivalry between Tencent and NetEase for market share in China than fulfilling actual audience desire.
Death of ‘midcore’
It’s taken a couple of years but 2017 saw radical change at the top of the top grossing app store charts. Non-gaming subscription apps such as Pandora, Netflix and Tinder replaced the likes of Clash of Clans andGame of War, while the assault on now-aging midcore titles was reinforced by the rise of a new generation of casual games, particularly casual games more accessible for female audiences.
The most notable new release in this vein was Russian developer Playrix’s Homescapes, which swapped the match-3 garden-design setting of Gardenscapes for interior design and became a top 5 top grossing game across the west.
Turkish outfit Peak Games also built on previous success in the match-3 genre, with new game Toon Blastfollowing the path blazed by Toy Blast, while Glu Mobile stretched the definition of what could be considered a ‘game’ with its PVP interactive interior design app Design Home. Together with similar experience Covet Fashion, the two games now generate over 40 percent of the company’s sales.
Also notable in this regard were Pocket Gems’ interactive story app Episodes, and Pixelberry’s Choices. Both were top 20 top grossing US games throughout the year, with Pocket Gems stakeholder Tencent rewarding the company’s performance with an additional $90 million investment, and Nexon acquiring Pixelberry for an undisclosed amount.
But the biggest surprise was the reinvention of King’s Candy Crush Saga, which despite declining player numbers saw quarter-on-quarter growth in revenues as King got serious about live ops, better engaging with and monetizing its players.
Augmented reality gains traction
2017 was the year almost everyone in the mobile space ditched VR for AR.
It wasn’t a difficult decision either. With no sustainable market even for a mobile VR ecosystem in which mobile-compatible headsets such as Google’s Daydream and Samsung’s Gear VR boasted an install base of millions, the release of Apple’s ARKit-containing iOS 11 created an AR install base of 100 million devices overnight.
The result was a wave of rather gimmicky and typically paid AR games and apps on App Store; something that’s likely to be repeated on the Google Play store when Android equivalent ARCore is released in 2018.
Nevertheless, with AR now given-away-for-free with every new smartphone purchase, at least developers know they have a potential market to sell into. The balance between fad app and killer app will, no doubt, take time to judge but this time no-one will be able to blame failure on a lack of devices. （Source: gamasutra.com ）