Friday, September 16, 2011

MobileMonday Part II: Mobile Games

Following up on my last MobileMonday post, let’s get to the heart of what this night was all about – mobile games. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s even slightly interested in the mobile industry, but leveraging geo-location into mobile games was a huge topic at the event. Not one of the game developers who presented dared not to mention that their game had the capability. In my humble opinion, the best mobile gaming takeaways of the night are below.

Sell to the fantasy – Design to the behavior.

The best point that I thought was made the whole night about location-based gaming was from Greg Trefry from Gigantic Mechanic. The reality of location-based gaming is that it’s not active. Developers create these apps with the mindset that people will go all over the city and do different things to play games with their friends. But people don’t deviate from where they go very often. Will they explore new places? Maybe, but most people want to go to their local bagel shop and order their usual coffee, from their regular barista. Touché, Greg.

Cater to the single player experience.

Eric Asmussen from 82 Apps just wants to play good old fashioned games – on his iPad. Let’s be honest, that’s the best platform for many games, especially the kind Eric likes to play – board games. Only Eric wasn’t content playing Catania and Risk on his iPad, he wanted to have more fun. So he came up with New World Colony. Eric learned quickly though, that game development takes time and while he may like playing best on his iPad, he needed to expand to the iPhone market to reach more potential users. Eric’s best advice, in my opinion, was to cater to the single player experience – especially in the early stages. Sure, it’s great if you can hop online when you want to play and battle against someone across the country or the world. But if there are only a handful of people using the app in the early stages, there’s a smaller likelihood that you’ll have someone to battle. Online matches are practically useless for smaller games, and there needs to be an option to take turns, like with the popular Scrabble-like app, Words with Friends.

You need ads, but keep them relevant.

Video gaming is an addiction. Matt Snyder from MediaMob shared an interesting stat that almost makes me want to put down my iPhone. Almost. The typical smartphone user spends 15 hours per month playing games. Most of us (92 percent) play once a week, but many play every day (45 percent). Angry Birds has replaced Starbucks as the most overused mobile analogy, Matt says, qualifying the influence that mobile games have on the industry.

Matt talked about mobile advertising challenges and what makes a better experience for gamers. There’s growing pressure to release free games, but often times these are hampered down with ads that ruin the experience. This is easily avoided by keeping the ads relevant, something I’ve been talking about for a while with clients, and Matt reaffirmed. Catering to relevancy will result in huge rewards. Matt says that mobile ads should offer real world returns – discounts for products and services a mobile gamer would care about. Better yet, he states, offer value to the user for the game they’re playing; allow gamers to unlock levels/points in the game for watching a sponsor’s video.

My pick of the night.

There were some great games and apps at MobileMonday, and I learned a lot about the mobile gaming space – from development and HTML 5 to additional insights in mobile advertising. My favorite of the night, though, was from the TapLab. Dave Bisceglia shared a new game I’m way too tempted to download – TapCity. I’m a self-proclaimed FourSquare addict. I’ve been fighting with a colleague for months now to earn the mayorship of our office here at PAN – I’m so close that I’ve debated coming to work on a Saturday. But that’s not TapCity. To me, TapCity is a hybrid of war and Monopoly for FourSquare. It’s not just for social media addicts like me, it’s for gamers. Sure, you check-in. You check-in the most and you’re the mayor. And if you’re the mayor, you can collect revenue from anyone else who checks in, so you’re earning real value, well as real as fake money can be. But here’s the catch, the location-based differentiator, if you will. Don’t feel like coming in on a Saturday – you can forcibly become the mayor. Launch attacks on properties, and if you’re already the mayor, be sure to set up precautions and protect your property from the city dwellers trying to get a slice of your property’s pie. Watch out, Boston, because I’m coming after your venues, one tap at a time.

The Mobile Games event was a great way to kick off Future M week, and you can bet you’ll find me at future MobileMonday events. Matt Snyder at MediaMob said it best, gaming is an addiction. Mobile technology is changing the way we game, and where we do it. What mobile gaming apps are you addicted to?

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