12 Predictions for Mobile and Games in 2012

It’s near the end of the season to make predictions for 2012, so hopefully I get this in under the wire.  In the startup world we call such running around and almost missing deadlines being “nimble…” but we might be the oldest startup in mobile games:  From ’06 to ’08 we were the only bootstrapped Top 10 mobile games publisher in the US.  I’ve been in this space so long, I was even there when Jamdat pitched us on making a bowling game for phones, which turned into the top selling mobile game in the US for the next 3 years.  It was black and white… and I think it had B.C. in the title…  So I’ve seen and ridden most waves that have come and gone in the history of mobile games, and I’m more excited by the current wave than any before, hopefully because Mobile Deluxe is helping create it.  Could be why Moby has a surfboard.

So what is that current wave?  Well, here’s part of it, a little off the beaten path (meaning there’s nothing about Facebook’s IPO):

1. Top charts will NOT be dominated by brands (still).

Most brands don’t translate to the top genres we see in the App Store and in Android Market (sandbox games).  So until brand owners come up with effective freemium models, they will languish.

2.  Speaking of freemium: Top games will be freemium.

Seems obvious, but maybe there are people that still think it’s a fad… It’s not.

3.  Middleware engines that port to iPhone and android and other middleware tools that simplify game creation will still not catch on.

I would not invest here.  Coders don’t like using other coders’ code, because they all know that they can do it better, and for not much more time.  The only way to make this work is to sell the biz dev teams at the developers’ businesses on the cost savings… but 99.99% of dev shops don’t have biz dev teams.

4.  This will NOT be the year for HTML 5.

Performance is not there, but the fragmentation is… the fragmentation is worse than Android.

5.  Amazon will kill it in mobile/tablets.

These guys are good, and they can bridge some gaps that others cannot.

6.  Apps will be inundated with video ads, which consumers will NOT love.

Everyone but consumers is excited about this.

7.  iAd will finally take off.

Mobile Advertising is still difficult and frustrating on the buy side.  When larger companies come in with larger budgets, they will want a one stop shop that is SIMPLE to work with.

8.  Zynga’s stock price will double.

I am not a broker.  I am not an analyst.  I have no Zynga stock.  This should not be taken as advice.  It should really just be met with a, “huh?”

9.  EA will turn a profit for the first time in 5 years.

10. Gameloft will attempt an acquisition (they’ve never done this).

11.  Ad revenue will even out between Android and iPhone.

12.  We’ll learn what the shelf-life is for some top mobile game genres.

Alright, there are five more… think of it as the “Top 12 predictions plus 5 bonus ones.”  (But I understand if you need to stop reading now, both of you).

13.  Mobile shopping system companies will become VC darlings.

I’m talking about companies that make it easier for people to shop on their mobile devices.  Yes mobile holiday sales were through the roof, but that was for the huge companies that have solved this on their own.  Everyone else is in need of an elegant solution (for payment, and input of payment info).

14.  Android will launch a realtime rankings system for apps (please!)

15.  EA will announce ‘Aikman Football’ to replace Madden.

At least they should.

16.  I won’t win the battle to delineate between “games” and “gaming.”

Gaming has traditionally meant “gambling,” but has been commandeered by video games, or those that write about them.  Unless we all join forces, this trend will continue, and casino companies will continue buying game companies!

17.  There will be a major cross-licensing deal to solve a big part of the patent wars.  Everyone will participate but one (easy to figure mystery).

Best regards,

5 Key Factors for Deciding to Make Your App Free

Have you checked out the list of Top Grossing apps in the Apple App Store recently?  Besides some flash-in-the-pan specialty app for ornithologists, 6 of the top 7 top grossing apps are free.

Apple App Store Top Grossing

For close followers of the mobile industry, that’s no surprise.  In a previous post last October, I pointed out the impact that free apps were having on the App Store.  The Facebook model of free apps with in-game transactions is now dominating mobile as well.  Why?  As counterintuitive as it may seem, it’s possible to make more money when you give your app away for free.  Possible, but certainly not guaranteed.

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Free App Impact on App Store’s Top Grossing Games

Update: Between the writing and publishing of this entry, Ngmoco blew up.  First came the rumors, then the facts. That’s $400 Million worth of proof that Free-to-Play apps have a huge future on the Apple App Store!

Looking for a measure of how much impact Free-to-Play games are making on the Apple App Store? As Finger Gaming noted last week, free apps occupied 5 of the top 10 iPad top Grossing spots. And last Friday afternoon around 4:30pm PST, 12 of the Top 50 Highest Grossing iPhone Games were free. This is not a huge shock, given the runaway success companies like Zynga and the artist formerly known as Playdom are seeing with the free model on Facebook and MySpace. But it is great to see free apps successfully competing against branded juggernauts such as Madden, FIFA, Bejeweled and Final Fantasy in the Apple App Store.

Check out the list of free titles in the Top 50 Grossing iPhone Game Apps (10/01/2010 at 4:30PM PST):

CityStory TeamLava
We Rule Ngmoco
Haypi Kingdom Haypi
Zombie Farm Playforge
Coin Push Frenzy Freeverse
Original Gangstaz Rock Addmired
Millionaire City Digital Chocolate
Tap Fish BayView Labs
We City Ngmoco
Farm Story TeamLava
We Farm Ngmoco
Pocket Frogs NimbleBit

Continue reading “Free App Impact on App Store’s Top Grossing Games”