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Why we abandoned Facebook and went mobile: part 2

By on August 21, 2012

This is a guest post by Douglas Glover of Slime Sandwich

Clearly an indie developer needs a mobile strategy to survive or thrive. In my last article, I argued Facebook was dead to indie gamers and the new frontier is mobile games. We believe this so strongly at Slime Sandwich that we put our beautiful Facebook game on the back shelf in favor of quickly moving to mobile and here’s why:

  • Market. There are approximately 5.6bn mobile phones worldwide. This is compared to 1.5 bn televisions, 2.2 bn internet users. Soon, the cost of smartphones will decrease to the point where everyone can afford one. (See Nicholas Lovell’s argument on Bertrand Competition). As a result, your game will have access to the largest market the world – virtually almost everyone on the planet. Further, the market for mobile phone apps is expected to grow from $7 billion to $35 billion by 2015. Half of these are expected to be games.
  • Social Hook. One does not have to look far to see how social hooks such as those seen in Draw Something, or Words with Friends can cause a game to catch fire. This topic deserves its own article, but the advantage you have in game design and the use of social hooks for smartphones and tablets is tremendous.
  • It’s Mobile. I hate to state the obvious, but you don’t carry your PC tower with you everywhere.
  • Amazon. We believe the Amazon App store may be the last best hope for small indie game builders to gain traction on their games (ok, not really, but close). With drastically less competition, better earnings, increased viral distribution through, “Customers who bought this also bought that” and for other reasons I’m going to write in another article, Amazon is a good place to start and then springboard into other app stores.
  • Tablets. iPads, Kindle Fire, and Android tablet sales are smoking hot and are taking a substantial bite out of the PC market. The International Data Corporation had previously predicted sales for 2012 of 87.7 million, but recently changed that forecast to predict shipments of 105.1 million tablets. It is not too late to ride the wave.
  • Distribution. For years we’ve seen many games exclusively designed for the iPhone and iPad or specific Android devices (there are many). There is increased opportunity for developers willing to design games that will work simultaneously on all devices. At Slime Sandwich, we developed tools to allow us to publish on all platforms at once, giving us the best chance of gaining customers. At this writing, our mobile game, Chuck the Chilla, is playable on almost all iOS and Android tablets and Smartphones and can be downloaded from iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

Design. If you compete with major game companies in any other arena, they have game MoJo down to a science; however, mobile games are a completely different animal. Game play and design has been turned on its head. If you can design mobile games that do not require a learning curve or thought, and can be played with one or at most two fingers, your company will have a significant advantage in the competitive mobile device market. Note: Our advice is to steal from the best – if the player can play Angry Birds, why not use Rovio’s basic GUI designs rather than reinvent the wheel.

Don’t Make Me Think. Steve Krug, in his enlightened book, “Don’t Make Me Think” basically argues a successful product now has to be designed in such a way that a user can use it without a learning curve. Anything that makes it easier for a user to quickly and easily use a product is king. Mobile devices have a number of advantages:

  • QR Codes. Smartphones make it easier not to think. 50% of smartphone users have scanned QR codes. The user does not have to think, look up a site, ect. He just has to scan. For our products, we make certain every advertisement has a QR Code.
  • Instant Pay. How easy is it to buy an app on your phone or tablet? Usually by just pressing a button, or putting in a code if you want to be fully exhausted, but the point is, with mobile devices, most of the time there is no friction in the buying process.

I think that is mostly it. With a bit of understanding of the mobile market, a focus on your market and a design that makes life easy on your players, the mobile game market is wide open.

About Douglas Glover