Recent research conducted by SuperScale, a prominent mobile games growth strategist, has shed light on the volatile nature of the mobile gaming industry. A comprehensive report titled “Good Games Don’t Die,” based on interviews with 500 game developers in the United Kingdom and the United States, reveals startling statistics about the lifespan and success rate of mobile games.
High Failure and Cancellation Rates
- Staggering Failure Rate: The report uncovers that a whopping 83% of launched mobile games fail within their first three years.
- Development Cancellations: Additionally, 43% of mobile games never make it past the development stage, getting canceled before they can reach the market.
Revenue Peaks and Developer Preferences
- Early Revenue Peaks: A significant 76% of these games reach their peak revenue within the first year of release. However, only a mere 4% manage to achieve this peak in their second year.
- Developer Tendencies: Despite these daunting statistics, 78% of developers express a preference for working on new titles over updating existing ones.
Lack of Regular Updates
- Update Frequency: The study found that 38% of developers don’t release regular updates for their games, with less than half providing monthly updates.
- Long-Term Support: Only 5% of games receive support seven years post-launch, indicating a short life span for most mobile games.
Market Challenges and Industry Trends
- Market Difficulties: About 30% of the developers feel that the current market is too challenging to succeed in, citing factors like heavy competition and macroeconomic conditions.
- Industry Layoffs: Layoffs and downsizing are prevalent, with two-thirds of studios having to cut budgets or staff. This year alone, 32% of developers had to lay off employees, and nearly 25% faced the threat of shutting down.
Impact on Major Developers
- Niantic’s Struggle: Even Niantic, the developer behind the successful “Pokémon Go,” hasn’t been able to replicate its success with other titles, leading to significant staff layoffs and project cancellations.
- Rovio’s Response: Rovio, the creator of “Angry Birds,” had to remove the game from Google Play and rebrand it on the iPhone, indicating the competitive pressures even for well-established games.
Economic Pressures and Outsourcing
- Economic Challenges: Developers are grappling with recessionary pressures and high inflation, impacting their profitability.
- Outsourcing Trends: To cope, 40% of developers have resorted to outsourcing development tasks, particularly in genres like hypercasual and collectible card games.
Optimism Amidst Challenges
Despite these challenges, SuperScale founder and CEO Ivan Trancik sees a silver lining. He emphasizes the passion that drives the gaming industry and suggests that there is an opportunity for introspection and revitalization of existing gaming content. This perspective is crucial for the industry, as it navigates through these tumultuous times.
Skills Shortage in the Gaming Industry
Another significant challenge highlighted in the industry is the skills shortage, particularly in the UK. TIGA’s latest report reveals a significant gap in finding new talent in gaming, underscoring the need for more investment in skill development and education in this sector.
Key Strategies for Success
Given the challenges, the report suggests several strategies that could help developers and publishers navigate the market more successfully:
- Focus on LiveOps: Since 62% of the most profitable titles are supported through LiveOps, there’s a clear indication that continuous content and feature updates can drive long-term success.
- Revisiting and Revitalizing Existing Games: There’s potential in revisiting older titles and injecting new life into them, rather than always focusing on creating new games.
- Diversification and Innovation: Diversifying the types of games and innovating within existing genres can help capture new segments of the market.
The SuperScale report not only highlights the difficulties faced by mobile game developers but also serves as a critical source of data for understanding market trends and maximizing revenue. This study is a wake-up call for the industry, urging developers and publishers to adapt and innovate in a highly competitive and rapidly changing environment. For more detailed insights from SuperScale’s report, you can visit the official SuperScale website.