Mobile Gaming – the titanic shift

The industry is undergoing a titanic shift, factors like the ease of publishing to the App Store, the extremely low cost to become a developer, the growth of Freemium games (games given away for free with revenues coming from alternative sources) and the rise of the female gamers (53% of mobile gamers are female) are rewriting the rules.

Anywhere, any-time, high quality gaming, that fits nicely in our pocket, is yours to have .  The mobile entertainment industry was worth $33 billion last year, which is due in part to the success of smartphones like the iPhone and the plethora of Android devices like the HTC Thunderbolt.  These high powered computers were just waiting for people to turn them into gaming consoles.

An interesting infographic by Geekaphone:



Customer Engagement, Gamification & Social Games – 2

In my last blog I referred to  the term “Gamification” as use of game design techniques in  non-game applications.This gamification exploits a humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.

But let’s get our attention back to actual gaming applications like “Mafia wars” and to my very own “Seduction“.. had to mention it ..can’t forget my baby ;).

In terms of genre,social media games are not much different from other entertainment mediums like movies  ( “Reservoir Dogs” or “When Harry Met Sally” ).The difference is that most of the social media games focus on a very limited set of genre and lack creativity in publishing story lines that cater to adults.

Most of them seem to be either fighting with aliens or plowing neighbors patch of fallow land ( “Farmville” ).I have nothing against these genres.They are very successful and have been designed to engage gamer’s attention for a long time.

But the market segment served by these genres is limited.Social media gaming industry is still new and hence we are witnessing this explosive growth.There is a very interesting statistics that I found here:

These numbers are impressive but there is still a huge untapped casual gaming market.A well chosen genre with excellent delivery of gaming experience  can attract lots of new gamers from under served market segments.

Important point to note in above statistics is that “more women play social network games” compared to men.Traditionally in console gaming industry,men dominated the market and still do,but more women play social media games.

Seduction” is a humble effort to fix this anomaly 😉

Customer Engagement, Gamification & Social Games – 1

In this edition of my blog, I initially intended to write about analytics and how it helps in making sense of huge amounts of customer data generated by these games. But analytics won’t be of much significance unless we understand the role of social games in online marketing and in general,”Gamification”. To set the context of our discussion, here are the important heuristics (as listed in my earlier blog posting – “Game Heuristics Part 2”) that we considered in our game design

  • Accessibility – Making the game easy to approach, understand and play.
  • Interruptability – Taking advantage of asynch, spontaneous and irregular play sessions.
  • Continuity – Providing continuous game world which attracts the player to come back.
  • Discovery – Providing new experiences, content and surprises.
  • Virality – Supporting viral growth in the player’s social network.
  • Narrativity – Creating in-game and off-game narratives that elicit curiosity.
  • Expression – Supporting self-discovery, customization and virtual spaces
  • Sharing – Collaborating with friends by gifting and boosting
  • Sociability – Supporting sociability among friends in the game dynamics
  • Competition – Promoting playful social competition with others.

The common thread that runs through all these design considerations is the extent to which they encourage “customer engagement”. All game features consistently try to focus on giving experiences, activities, competitions, contest & sharing opportunities that foster player engagement and encourage them to come back for more. These design heuristic considerations don’t just limit customer engagement to in-game activities but also spawn hooks that tie the customers even off the game.

Games move up or down the leader board with metrics such as DAUs ( “daily active users” ) & MAUs( “monthly active users” ).All games are designed to ramp up these two metrics and keep them high to be the leader of the pack. It’s a very powerful mechanism to retain fleeting attention span of today’s customers suffering with information overload. Whoever cracks this Holy Grail is considered a winner.

It’s important to note that some of these heuristics are not just relevant to online gaming. Since 2010, there is trend towards “Gamification”.Gamification as applied in context of non-game applications encourage adoption of best practices.Gamification if applied to mundane tasks such as completing survey, filing out tax forms encourages users to engage in desired behaviors. Some examples of gamification (copied from here )–

  • Employee training programs
  • Wellness and other personal activities
  • Financial services websites
  • Online and in-person shopping
  • Primary education
  • Extreme sports
  • Project management
  • Enhancing loyalty programmes
  • Social Networks
  • Surveys
  • Sustainability
  • Call Center
  • Market Research