近5年来，移动设备技术已发生迅猛进展。该行业过去的领先者Ressearch In Motion（RIM）已从鼎盛期走向没落，而苹果与谷歌这些新晋者则以迅猛之势占据整个市场。它们之间的激烈竞争已催生出某些惊人的未来设备，借此逐渐掌控整个世界。这些新型移动设备均具备优于大部分显示器的高密度像素屏幕，其无线网络速度可与宽带相媲美，且处理器囊括台式机的众多核心组件。
诸如iPhone 5、Nexus 4与Windows Phone 8X这些一流设备分别拥有326ppi、320ppi与342ppi的分辨率。Speedtest.net表示，LTE无线网络连接的平均速度大约是14兆/秒（下载速度）与5兆/秒（上传速度）。这种速度比得上Comcast的Performance有线互联网服务，后者宣传其下载速度可达到20兆/秒以上，上传速度可达到4兆/秒以上。此外，iPad 4与Nexus 10这些平板电脑均在强大的4核CPU上运行，而我们在5年前从未想过能够取得这种成就。
最近，高端手机（比如Android手机）倾向于采用大屏幕模式。比如Nexus 4与Galaxy Slll的屏幕面积已接近5英寸，而苹果在iPhone 5上仍坚持4英寸屏幕，HTC则在Windows Phone 8X上采用4.3英寸屏幕。我们预计，未来几年，用户将有望看到大部分屏幕规格在4-5英寸之间的智能手机。这种尺寸刚好适合口袋与钱包大小，同时能够兼容高容量电池。
鉴于它们的小型市场份额，Windows Phone与黑莓并非发挥重大作用的移动游戏平台，尽管有些开发商采用的是“在小池塘钓大鱼的举措”。由于这两个平台拥有较小市场规模，因此游戏在Android与iOS平台上更易获得曝光度。Windows Phone的一个潜在优势可能是微软Xbox强大的品牌效应。如果微软能结合Xbox主机的广泛名气与其日益重要的Windows Phone平台，那么该公司可能有机会成为移动游戏巨头。
移动付费存在多种形式，可以是近距离无线通讯技术（游戏邦注：near field technology，简称NFC），或是诸如Square的设备附加装置，又或是传统在线付费模式。我们预计，到2012年底，开发商将会通过这些方式实现1715亿美元的全球移动交易额。
对移动游戏开发本质感兴趣的新开发者应考虑涉猎《Beginning Android Games》或《Beginning iOS Game Development》这类书籍。而对其他人而言，制作移动游戏并不一定需要详细了解Java、C++、OpenGL或SQL。各种工具、引擎与平台可以提供有效辅助；但重点是选择最佳方式。注意，我们可以使用的工具与引擎包括：AndEngien、LibGDX、GameMaker与Unity。
值得一提的是，游戏领域还存在其它工具与引擎（游戏邦注：比如Cocos2d-x、Marmalade与Battery Tech SDK），它们的作用取决于应用类型。如果需要某个物理引擎，那么Box2D（支持C++语言编写）可能是个不错选择。
iOS平台上仅存在一种应用发行渠道，即通过苹果的App Store。而Windows Phone会通过Apps+Games Store发行，黑莓则选择自己的App World。Android平台上存在大量市场，但目前为止，Google Play是最佳选择。
致力于获得曝光的开发者可能会考虑与大型开发商合作，效仿PopCannibal的《Girls Like Robots》（游戏邦注：由Ziba Scott与Luigi Guatieri着手制作）。这款出色的益智游戏可能会因为与Cartoon Network的Adult Swim频道的合作关系而为人所知。
这种吸引大众观念也揭示了移动游戏与Facebook游戏制作之间的互通性。虽然这并不适合所有情况，但从历史上看，诸如Zynga的《FarmVile》与《Mafia Wars》这些在Facebook盛行的游戏同样在移动平台上拥有相应的效仿之作，比如Storm8的《Farm Story》与《iMobsters》。除了巨大吸引力，Zynga与Storm8也倾注大量的时间与精力用于分析、A/B测试与游戏优化。
The State of Mobile Game Development
by Matt Haggerty
Swarm co-founder Matt Haggerty offers a comprehensive look at the challenges and opportunities in mobile gaming today
The mobile game market is exploding. Recent data from Avista Partners shows that the value of the mobile game market in 2012 will likely be around $7.8 billion and is projected to grow to $18.3 billion in 2016. Thanks to relatively low barriers to entry, mobile game developers from indies to veterans have a shot at capturing some of this large pie through education, creativity, hard work, and a bit of luck.
When it comes to mobile game development, the story starts with the devices themselves.
Mobile device technology has been evolving rapidly over the last five years. The industry leader of yesteryear, Research In Motion (RIM), has gone from a hailed industry leader to a lagging market participant while newcomers such as Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) have taken the market by storm. The fierce competition between these giants has created strikingly futuristic devices that, quite literally, put the world in the palm of our hands. New mobile devices have screens with pixel densities superior to most monitors, wireless internet speeds as fast as many broadband connections, and processors with as many cores as desktop PCs.
Flagship devices such as the iPhone 5, Nexus 4, and Windows Phone 8X weigh in at 326 pixels per inch (ppi), 320 pixels per inch (ppi), and 342 pixels per inch (ppi) respectively. According to Speedtest.net, LTE wireless internet connectivity average speeds are roughly 14Mbit/sec down and 5Mbit up (on Verizon). These speeds are comparable to Comcast’s Performance cable internet service, which advertises download speeds of up to 20Mbit/sec and uploads up to 4Mbit/sec. Additionally, tablets such as the iPad 4 and Nexus 10 sport powerful quad core CPUs, an unthinkable achievement five years ago.
Is mobile technology stabilizing? It’s not an easy question, but perhaps the answer is “somewhat.” Physical device sizes seem to be settling on a few different sweet spots. For a few years now, tablets have been settling in on form factors that measure roughly 10 inches and 7 inches diagonally. Samsung has made a foray into the 5-inch “phablet” form factor with its Galaxy Note, but other tablet manufacturers seem to be a bit hesitant to follow suit.
High end mobile phones (and most Android phones for that matter) have been trending toward larger screens as of late. The Nexus 4 and Galaxy SIII are remarkably close to a 5-inch form factor while Apple chose to stick to a 4-inch screen for the iPhone 5 and HTC opted for a 4.3-inch screen on the Windows Phone 8X. It’s likely that consumers can expect to see a majority of smartphones in the 4- to 5-inch range for the foreseeable future. Devices of this size are still small enough to fit in most pockets or purses while still offering ample screen real estate and room for high-capacity batteries.
Even though form factors have standardized, device components inside and out can still be improved. As battery technology improves and engineers find ways to make circuits more efficient, consumers will likely continue to see advancements in CPU and GPU speeds. And wireless carriers will continue to compete for subscribers by expanding their high speed networks in both developed and developing nations.
Despite these extra features and functions that require additional power, we may eventually see mainstream smartphones achieving battery life of a week or more. Keep in mind that battery technology is important to a variety of industries outside of mobile electronics. From automobiles to power to medical, a breakthrough in any one industry may be a boon to all industries.
Devices are only one part of the equation. Without users, devices are lifeless.
It seems that people from nearly all walks of life are finding ways to engage with mobile devices. There have been some amazing stories about how kids with autism have been able to find joy in using tablets and how smartphone games may help slow the onset of Alzheimer’s.
According to Nielsen, “55.5 percent of US mobile phone users own a smartphone as of July , up from 41 percent in the year-earlier period.” The same source states that “the majority of American teens (58 percent) now own smartphones” which represents about a 61 percent increase from 2011, and “74 percent of 25-34 year olds [in the US] now own smartphones.” In terms of handsets obtained within the last three months in the US, Android leads the pack at over 50 percent, the iPhone comes in at 34 percent, and Blackberry trails with 8 percent. Windows Phone picks up the fourth place slot at around 4 percent share.
Given their small market share, Windows Phone and Blackberry aren’t very relevant mobile gaming platforms, though some developers have taken the “big fish in a small pond approach.” Since the markets for these two platforms are smaller, achieving visibility for a title can be easier than on Android and iOS. Furthermore, a potential saving grace for Windows Phone may be Microsoft’s powerful Xbox brand. If Microsoft can create synergy between its wildly popular Xbox console and its up-and-coming Windows Phone platform, the firm may have a shot at becoming a mobile gaming powerhouse.
Smartphone use and adoption is rapid in the U.S., but many other countries are seeing even more explosive growth. According to mobile analytics company Flurry, year-over-year growth of net active devices (from July 2011 to July 2012) grew by 401 percent in China, 279 percent in Chile, 220 percent in Brazil, and 217 percent in Argentina just to name a few. In China alone, “more than 100 million active new devices entered the market” and “China’s active installed base could overtake the United States as early as the 2012 holiday season.”
This increase in smartphone use will continue to broaden the already wide spectrum of users that interact with games and apps. To be successful, developers will have to be continuously mindful of software localization and accessibility. The huge global market will continue to create massive opportunities for software creators that dedicate time to polishing user interfaces, translating text, and generating mass appeal.
In addition to the intangible rewards that come from delivering software to the hands of millions, financial rewards will continue to become more abundant as well. As users become more accustomed and familiar with this relatively new technology, it can be expected that they will also be more comfortable making purchases through the smartphone medium.
Mobile payments already come in a variety of forms from near field technology (NFC), to device attachments such as Square, to more traditional online payments. All of these methodologies have resulted in worldwide mobile transaction values that are projected to reach $171.5 billion by the end of 2012.
This astronomical value of mobile transactions has spurred the growth of numerous mobile gaming businesses.
With such a huge potential market, mobile business models are plentiful. Within the gaming sector alone, businesses have a variety of avenues to choose from. Major business categories include on-device gaming, gaming systems, and contracting. However, these categories can be mixed and matched to meet the goals of a particular organization.
In the on-device gaming category, there are few general methods for monetizing. First, the Free-With-Ads Model works by giving the game away for free and earning revenue for displaying advertisement banners in the game. This model tends to work well for games that have large user bases or screen real estate to spare.
Then, there are the Freemium and Paymium Models which focus on the effective implementation of in-app purchases of digital goods. The in-app purchases can come directly in the form of cash through offerings built into the Android or iOS operating systems, or they can come indirectly through the use of offer-wall services like Tapjoy. Freemium and Paymium Models are good choices for most mobile games. They offer players the opportunity to choose their preferred level of engagement and value exchange.
Direct cash in-app purchases typically reduce purchasing friction as compared to offer-wall services. However, offer-wall services help generate revenue from users with more time (and less money) on their hands. In some cases, it can be a prudent strategy to include both monetization options in a single title.
Finally, the traditional Paid Model generates revenue when users purchase the software. Within the Paid Model, surveys have shown that there tends to be significantly higher revenue earned on iOS than Android by about 10:1.
In addition to each of these models, businesses can opt to include a layer of subscription-based monetization. Sometimes it makes sense to give gamers a way to subscribe to your game in exchange for regular service or even a regular delivery of virtual goods to their accounts. Monetization is about giving players options that enable them to reward developers in exchange for something they value.
Next, there is the relatively new mobile gaming systems market category. There are far fewer players in this market than in on-device gaming, but the barriers to entry are higher. This isn’t about creating the next hot new tablet or smartphone, but rather branching out and adding creativity to create a new niche. In this space, two examples of mobile gaming systems include Sphero and Ouya.
Due to the higher barriers of entry, both of these companies took on outside funding to help fund their creations. Sphero is venture-backed while Ouya raised significant capital through its Kickstarter campaign. It’s still too early to prognosticate about these two, but they’re worth keeping an eye on.
Last but not least, there is a flourishing contracting business model in which development teams create mobile software for others. This arena spans both mobile games and apps. Mobile software development is in high demand, and supply of skilled developers is relatively low by comparison. Simple economics is enough to make the case for this model. Creating games can be a fun place to start for people looking to get started in mobile development.
New developers interested in the nitty-gritty of mobile game development should consider picking up a copy of Beginning Android Games or Beginning iOS Game Development. For the rest of the world, creating mobile games doesn’t necessarily require knowing the ins and outs of Java, C++, OpenGL, or SQL. A variety of tools, engines, and platforms are readily available to help; however it’s important to choose the best tool for the job. Tools and engines of note include: AndEngine, LibGDX, GameMaker, and Unity.
AndEngine and LibGDX are both free and open source, while Unity and GameMaker will set studios back anywhere from hundreds of dollars to a few thousand. AndEngine is relatively easy to get into, but it is limited to the Android platform, while LibGDX is a bit more complex but it enables cross-platform distribution. GameMaker and Unity are also cross-platform options, but they both are more full featured and require less programming knowledge, and are also less tunable, than either AndEngine or LibGDX. Between GameMaker and Unity, casual developers looking to get their feet wet with 2D titles may want to check out GameMaker, but those interested in both 2D and 3D titles should give Unity a look.
It’s also worth mentioning that other tools and engines beyond these do exist (such as Cocos2d-x, Marmalade, and the BatteryTech SDK) and they may be useful depending on the application. If a physics engine is required, then Box2D (written in C++) is a good bet.
The aforementioned tools and engines will help games get off the ground, but by adding a social layer developers can improve reach, retention, and revenue. Social platforms make it simple to add features like global leaderboards, achievements, and player-to-player communication – features pioneered by PC gaming and consoles like the Xbox 360.
Notable mentions include Gree (formerly OpenFeint), Scoreloop, Papaya, and Swarm (aka SwarmConnect). All four of these players offer free software development kits (SDKs) and services to make games more social. On the surface, the platforms seem very similar, but beneath the marketing messages, developers will find a wide variance in API depth, speed, and ease of use. Swarm, for example, enables developers to quickly deploy social features by using pre-built screens, or they can completely customize the experience with its full suite of APIs.
After creating a mobile game, the next set of considerations revolves around distribution.
On iOS, there is only one place to release an app, and that’s through Apple’s App Store. On Windows Phone it’s the Apps+Games Store, and Blackberry has its Blackberry App World. On Android, there are many marketplaces, but Google Play is by far the best option.
Of the Android alternatives, Amazon’s Appstore for Android probably comes in second thanks to the fact that it comes preloaded on the prolific Kindle devices. Since Android is made by Google, Google Play will likely continue to dominate as the primary marketplace of Android games and apps, but Amazon will probably hang on in a distant second place as long as its Kindles remain popular.
Any discussion regarding mobile game and app marketplaces wouldn’t be complete without mentioning challenges regarding visibility. The challenge varies depending on the gaming platform. Achieving visibility is harder and potentially more costly on larger platforms such as iOS and Android, but the potential rewards are also measurably larger.
Today there are hundreds of thousands of games and apps in the mobile marketplaces and marketing has become crucial to developer success. Options for marketing include traditional banner advertisements and offer-wall services. Traditional banner advertising has a variable cost per acquisition, but offer-wall services can guarantee downloads at a fixed price (often at a fraction of the price of advertisement banners).
Indie developers have been put into a tough spot as bigger players have continued to move into the mobile gaming arena. Companies like EA can push their AAA titles to the top of the charts with blockbuster budgets. While an app at the top does not guarantee success, it at least gives the game a shot at stardom.
Developers looking for time in the spotlight may want to consider building partnerships with larger brands and follow in the footsteps of PopCannibal’s Girls Like Robots, by Ziba Scott and Luigi Guatieri. This clever puzzle game was able to rise to the stratosphere thanks to a partnership with Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
When it comes to mobile game development, both indies and major studios find that it differs quite a bit from other platforms such as consoles or PC and web-based games like those on Facebook.
Processing power aside, mobile devices generally have far less screen real estate to work with, and game controls must rely on touchscreen input (with a few exceptions such as Sony’s Xperia Play or other tablet accessories like iCade). This means that mobile game developers shouldn’t rely on complex user interfaces.
Audience awareness is also important. Since mobile games are distributed in app stores that are available to a wide audience, and the app stores include rating systems, mobile game developers tend to see more success with broadly appealing titles. Hardcore game titles can easily have their ratings decimated by the larger number of casual players that simply don’t understand or appreciate such games. Poor ratings can translate into poor download numbers, and poor download numbers can really hurt developers looking to make a splash or expand.
Mobile game businesses also tend to rely on higher unit volumes than console or PC. Success in the mobile gaming industry is typically achieved through download counts on the order of millions, because mobile gamers’ reluctance to shell out large amounts of cash for a game limits revenue from each download. This further strengthens the argument for creating broadly appealing mobile games. Looking for examples? Rovio’s Angry Birds and Popcap’s Plants vs. Zombies should both ring a bell.
This mass appeal concept shines a light on a similarity between creating mobile games and creating Facebook games. While it’s not true in all cases, historically, some of the most successful games on Facebook such as Zynga’s FarmVille and Mafia Wars have had successful clones on mobile platforms like Storm8′s Farm Story and iMobsters. In addition to the mass appeal of their titles, Zynga and Storm8 (also known as TeamLava Games) have both focused intense time and energy into analytics, A/B testing, and fine tuning to grow their titles.
Whether you’re part of an experienced studio, or you’re just learning the ropes by developing mobile games in your spare time, the experience can be both rewarding and enjoyable. The industry changes quickly, but luckily all signs are currently pointing toward rapid growth and expansion. As a participant in the greater gaming community, we encourage continued discussion, research, and feedback. Cheers!(source:gameindustry)