今年的GDC大会见证了第一个完整的智能手机峰会，ngmoco，Zynga with Friends，Rovio和Com2uS等游戏开发商都发表了演讲，而谷歌、微软和RIM等科技巨头也竭力说服开发商针对他们的平台开发游戏。
在这方面较为领先的是Tapjoy，Flurry，MdotM等公司，而OpenFeint、W3i、TapMe、Free App A Day以及Backflip Studios等众多社交游戏发行商也相续加入这一阵营，建立各自的推广方案，推动自己及第三方开发商的用户数量增长。
Glu Mobile也在2010年投身免费游戏市场，该公司的代表迈克·斯林（Mike Breslin）认为，“用户数据分析相当于整个游戏开发的40%”。
游戏邦认为在过去12个月中，这一领域的游戏设计表现确实让人感到不可思议。从《无尽之剑》、《水果忍者》、《Gun Bros》、《Words with Friends》到《糖果小怪物》和《翼飞冲天》等，我们体验到的都是一些风格鲜明的游戏。
这一情况在2011年应该会有所改观。 Booyah在它的Facebook游戏《Nightclub Town》的基础上，开发了一款基于地理定位的DJ战斗者游戏；而芬兰初创公司Grey Area正准备在美国和英国市场推出它的《Shadow Cities》，以期打败《愤怒的小鸟》。
美国/以色列真实感游戏公司Ogmento在本届GDC大会上展出了新游戏《Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary》，呈现了包括旧金山内容的游戏片段。
在今年的GDC大会上，PC和掌机游戏的中件间厂商也在极力宣扬他们对移动设备的技术支持。例如，Havok展示了其在索爱Xperia Play上运行的物理和动画技术产品，而德国技术公司Trinigy则喊出了“Vision on the Go”的广告语，大力推广它的Vision engine。
在GDC大会的喧嚣声之外，Khronos Group终于正式公布了WebGL规范。WebGL有效地结合了HTML5和OpenGL ES 2.0，支持网页浏览器的3D游戏硬件加速。对于想要绕过应用商店销售渠道的开发商来说，WebGL真是一项有利的武器。
尽管RIM和惠普已表现出了进取心，但目前的手机游戏开发商仍只需关注3个平台：iOS，Android和Windows Mobile 7。因为微软鼓励开发商把游戏从iOS平台移植到Windows Phone 7，这就减少了开发商的市场不确定因素，让他们更容易应对游戏移植这一棘手的问题。
出乎意料的是，与其他两家公司相比，苹果已有一段时间处于弱势。iPad 2发布会和预期一样令人有点失望，自始至终没有一点关于Game Center的消息。开发商对苹果的另一大怨言是，他们没法有效使用iAd的服务。除此之外，在完全开放的Android生态系统面前，苹果相对保守的运营路线也让有些开发商颇为不满。
对游戏开发者来说，从微软发布Windows Phone 7原版SDK的决心和行动中就可以看出，微软究竟是否有意与iOS、Android平台一决高下。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，转载请注明来源：游戏邦）
Ten killer trends from GDC 2011
2011 was the year the mobile games industry came of age, at least in terms of its impact at the Game Developers Conference.
For too long a niche player in the annual coming together of game creatives, GDC 2011 saw the first integrated Smartphone Summit with talks from gamemakers such as ngmoco, Zynga with Friends, Rovio and Com2uS, while tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and RIM were out in force to persuade developers to make games for their platforms.
More significantly however, console and PC middleware players were touting their new mobile strategies, while media conglomerates such as Disney, Warner Bros., Fox and Universal are working on bringing the phenomenal growth and audience reach of the mobile games market into their businesses.
It all made for an incredibly febrile mix of news, formal announcements, rumours and speculation. Boiling it down to a concentrated stew, here are ten trends that will change the way the mobile games industry operates over the next couple of months.
1. What’s my motivation again?
For a long time, the industry’s dirty little secret way of dealing with app discoverability, especially in terms of kickstarting freemium games into the charts, incentivisation schemes such as per install programs are now a big battle ground.
This sees the likes of Tapjoy, Flurry, and MdotM, joined by OpenFeint, W3i, TapMe, Free App A Day plus a number of the larger social publishers such as Backflip Studios, building out schemes that will enable themselves and thirdparties to incentivise these communities to push selected content.
One outcome could be a straight market-led competition in terms of offering the lowest cost per install across the largest audience.
Instead, in order to maintain revenue, vendors are looking at extending incentivisation beyond just downloading an app or game to actually getting people to play them.
This summons up visions of publishers potentially paying up to $1 in order to get people to install and play their game for long enough to get them hooked and (to use a horrible term) ARPUing.
Lots of money seems likely to be made and lost as these new marketing strategies are worked out.
2. Chasing whales and the freemium bubble
Everyone – and we mean everyone apart from maybe Crescent Moon – seems to be planning on releasing a freemium mobile game over the next couple of months.
Call it the Smurfs’ Village effect if you like – Capcom Mobile is rumoured to be making $4 million a month from Smurfberries – the revenues that can be made via this model are so incredible, especially compared to the relative cheapness of development, it seems worth the risk.
Clearly though, as more freemium games are released, the harder it will become to use lack of price as a driver to generate chart visibility. And with big publishers aggressively using the new per install models (see point 1), it will become increasingly harder for smaller developers to hammer out their own niche.
Anyhow, what everyone will be really fighting over are the so-called whales – those players who will buy your $99 in-app purchases. Like Las Vegas gamblers, from where the term originates, there aren’t many of these deep pocketed individuals, although there is an interesting debate happening over whether they are born or can be created. Still, this less than 0.1 percent of freemium players are already highly prized, and game makers will be bending over backwards to get them into their games.
3. “We become what we measure”
A quote from ngmoco CEO Neil Young, one of the biggest talking points of GDC was data. With freemium games a massive growth area, the data you can extract from your players, and how you use this – both in terms of improving design and monetisation – is now the mobile industry’s cutting edge.
Similarly, Mike Breslin of Glu Mobile – a company which pivoted into a freemium model in 2010 – reckons “analytics is now 40 percent of the game”.
Feeding into this, and combining the best practices of banking and games, Scottish outfit Games Analytics has set up to stop data analysis paralysis. Its use of player behavioural models seems an interesting approach, and one that will certainly generate stiff competition from a variety of other smart vendors.
Still, Young’s statement remains the sharpest edge in terms of cautionary tale meets business opportunity. With so much data now available, developers and publishers will need to be very selective in the metrics they track and optimise in terms of what companies they will find themselves running in 2012.
4. You’re always selling more than a game
Rovio isn’t the best studio to use as a general measuring stick but it’s sold two million plush Angry Birds toys, generating over $20 million in the process; likely its largest single source of profit. Similarly, Pocket God has done comic books and Doodle Jump has done stationery. Both are doing plushes in future, while you’ll soon be able to buy Angry Birds’ – at least bad pig – piggybanks.
In this way, any original mobile game with more the 500,000 sales should be looking into merchandising options. Some people love your game. They’ll probably want to wear the t-shirt too.
5. This was a golden age of mobile game design
Journalists often fall into the trap of calling significance early, but this from our current ant hill perspective, the past 12 months have been incredible in terms of the purity of mobile game design. From Infinity Blade to Fruit Ninja, Gun Bros., Words with Friends, Cut the Rope, Tiny Wings etc, we’ve been blessed with some genre-defining games.
The next 12 months will see less focus on game design and much more on the collision of monetisation and game design. Presumably the results will be more lucrative but less enjoyable to play. We’re just warning you.
6. Big just got bigger
With the level of activations across Apple, Android, Nokia and RIM ranking at well over one million daily, it should be no surprise the number of game downloads required to impress is always rising.
Twelve months ago, less than a dozen games had sold over three million copies. Now, in order to gain attention, you need to have generated over five million sales, or over 10 million downloads if you’re including cross platform free content. Even average free games should be aiming at hitting a million downloads a week if they hope to have any chance of making it big.
Sorry, big just got bigger.
7. Location, location, location
Location was emerging in 2010, but despite the rise of Foursquare and Booyah’s MyTown, it didn’t quite gell within games.
That looks like it could change in 2011. Booyah is back with a location-based DJ battler based on its Nightclub Town Facebook game, while Finnish start up Grey Area is preparing to roll out its Angry Birds-beating Shadow Cities game in the US and UK.
Taking the genre even further, US/Israeli augmented reality outfit Ogmento launched its Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary game at the show, including a special San Francisco section.
Of course, the trick with such experiences is making the best use of location and device, without restricting what people can do. In this way, players within Shadow Cities can hook up with their friends at any global location, while a different twist on the game is being planned for iPad users, who are more likely to play from static locations compared to their always-live iPhone cousins.
There’s a long way to go before anyone has a proven design and business model, but getting it right will be massively lucrative.
8. Now we’re just another (cross) platform
It used to be that discussions of mobile middleware involved talk of specialist and rather obscure companies offering specialist and rather obscure solutions to Java porting or asset compression. That’s been changing fast as the like of Unity and Stonetrip have embraced mobile game development within their web and console download businesses.
At GDC 2011 however, the full gamut of PC and console game middleware vendors were talking up their support for portable and mobile devices. For example, Havok demonstrated its physics and animation products working on a Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, while German tech company Trinigy now uses the marketing tag ‘Vision on the Go’ to promote its Vision engine.
The success of Unreal Engined games such Infinity Blade and Dungeon Defenders has further highlighted the situation, and when the senior veep of Autodesk, the world’s largest content creation software provider, says “The numbers in the mobile space are staggering. It’s a real opportunity,” you know something significant is happening.
9. Who needs an app store anyway?
Lost in the white noise of GDC PR, industry standards organisation the Khronos Group formally announced the WebGL specification. Effectively combining HTML5 and OpenGL ES 2.0 to enable the hardware acceleration of 3D content within web browsers, WebGL is another weapon in the armory of those who want to bypass app stores for content distribution.
Browser companies such as Apple, Google, Mozilla and Opera are all supporting the move (only Microsoft is an outlier, for legacy political reasons), while vendors such as Facebook are also very keen on its potential.
Clearly, for hardcore games, being able to download massive files once and then play the native code as required will always win out, but it seems like despite Steve Jobs’ best efforts, high quality free Flash-style gaming will be coming to iOS as well as all other mobile platforms.
Good news for Miniclip, Kongregate, Spil and the rest, it will be interesting to see the impact on paid content.
10. And then there were three
Despite the push of RIM and HP, mobile developers now only have to focus on supporting three platforms: iOS, Android and Windows Mobile 7. This reduction of uncertainly is being made even easier to handle thanks to Microsoft’s keenness to pay developers to port existing iOS content to Windows Phone 7 to bulk out its back catalog.
Each of these three companies – Apple, Google, Microsoft – have its own challenges to overcome however.
Surprisingly, Apple is in its weakest situation, relatively speaking, for some time. The iPad 2 announcement was as expected so something of a disappointment, as was the complete lack of Game Center news. Developers are moaning about the lack of fillrate using iAd, and the comparison in terms of its ‘our way or the highway’ approach to business versus the completely open Android ecosystem is starting to annoy some.
Of course, Apple remains the clear market leader in terms of the overall experience and driving revenue; something Google remains slow to react to in terms of enabling in-app purchases (soon we’re told), not to mention more viable payment options for the Android Market. Still, the sheer explosion in the numbers of Android smartphone and tablets means the platform is gaining in significant extremely quickly.
And that leaves Microsoft. Currently hamstrung as Nokia devices won’t be available in volume before the end of the year, and there’s little reason for Samsung, HTC or LG to bust a gut supporting the platform, its role is to position the market for the eventual Nokia launch.
The key decision here – for game developers at least – is the release of the Windows Phone 7 native SDK. Politically painful for sure, nevertheless this is the issue on which Microsoft’s seriousness to compete with iOS and Android gaming will be measured.（source:pocketgamer）