I’ve written before about the problem of getting seen online. It’s a major issue and every success story such as Clash of Clans pulling in $1 million per day:
On December 21, it hit a new high: Supercell’s two games are now bringing in more revenue than all of EA’s 969 games combined, according to App Annie.
(Wow!) For for each of those stories here are many, many times more stories of gloom among developers. Take this comment I saw posted on LinkedIn on a gamedev forum:
I developed an Indie game with XNA for Windows Phone, I have done a lot of code with this technology and I consider that my game is really good, even it’s not very original.
I published my game on windows phone market to the lowest price. Almost two months later I got only 2 sells.
After a lot of work, to me, this is the end of my indies projects.
Its a shame to hear that, I know what it is like to pour all your life and time into a project. There is an article on Games Brief that puts some new numbers to that:
As the marketplace for mobile and casual games has become larger and ever more crowded, it has become increasingly difficult for publishers and developers to get their games noticed and overcome a growing discovery problem. For just the month of March 2013, Xylogic counted almost 31,000 new iPhone apps and over 22,000 new Android apps in the US app stores alone. (Of these new apps, 18% and 22%, respectively, were games).
With 1.5M mobile apps already available in the US, and the number of game app downloads projected to grow from 21 billion in 2012 to 64.1 billion in 2017 (Juniper Research), it’s no secret or surprise that the sheer volume of different games that makes it hard to attract attention from consumers.
So that means that in March 2013 there were 1000 apps per day released. Of those 180 were games. On Android 709 apps per day released of which 155 were games. Over the two platforms 335 games were released. So what is the fate of these games? Most are destined to die in penury: From these stats, 251 will make less than $3000. From these stats 221 will not see a single download.
It’s a tough market and it’s going to get worse. One of the big issues in addition to this is that it’s not like quality alone is what separates the games that makes some money from those that don’t. I’m betting that plenty of the 200-plus un-downloaded apps are good games, some will even be great ones.
It’s unfortunate that producing a good game, or even a great one, is no longer enough to stand out from the crowd and be discovered by enough prospective users. Even some critically-acclaimed games go largely unnoticed by consumers – a disappointment to many in an industry that prides itself on innovation and creativity, and where the hope is that the commercial success of a game ought to correlate somewhat closely with its quality. In short, the combination of the vast number of releases and the rising cost of marketing has turned discovery into mobile gaming’s thorniest problem.
Getting players to see your game really is a major challenge, certainly one I spend a lot of time dwelling on…
I was featured in a recent Radio 4 Documentary, State of Play. This was about how games can use used to try and achieve social change. If you want to have a listen, the documentary is here.
We talked about a couple of games as part of this doc. One was Endgame:Syria…
…and the other was the newly released NarcoGuerra:
THE REJECTED: CENSORSHIP OF SOCIAL IMPACT GAMES
PARTICIPANTS: Ian Bogost, PHD, Alex Jansen, Clay Ewing, Tomas Rawlings
Games that tackle controversial issues have a giant chip on their shoulder: censorship. Whether a game is banned by a distributor or pulled by a sponsor, the effects can be chilling. This panel will discuss games that broached topics deemed unacceptable for consumption with a mixture of first hand accounts and perspectives on using games as means of persuasion.
I especially like the title ‘The Rejected‘ as it makes us all sound part of some cool western from the 1960s or a new-wave punk band.
But also – it’s NEW YORK! I’ve never been, but it’s one of those iconic places we know so well from our consumption of media…
I was invited by a student looking at serious games to be interviewed while he played though Endgame:Syria – I thought this was a really good idea of how to explore the game, so was happy to take part. Here’s the result of that, though because I was on Skype I do sound a bit like I’m a Cylon for a lot of the interview…
I’m doing the lunchtime talk at the PM Studio in Bristol – it’s 1pm on 17th and is free, so why not join me?
Friday, 17 May 2013 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Tomas Rawlings, Creative Director of Auroch Digital and the GameTheNews.net project, will be joining us to talk about his company’s recent dealings with Apple, who controversially rejected their real time strategy game, Endgame Syria, an unflinching interactive exploration of events unfolding in Syria today. The game and Apple’s refusal to publish it in the app store made global headlines, from the BBC to Wired, The Guardian to Russia Today, provoking a worldwide debate about the ethics involved in using games as a way to call attention to and talk about real world issues.
GameTheNews.net has to date released Endgame:Syria on PC, Mac and Android but not on the App Store due to Apple’s apparent restrictions on allowable content in games. Tomas will tell us what really happened, what GameTheNews.net did in response and what the issues are when large platform holders have the final say about what content goes on their media channels.