10 Things Needed for Mobile Games Success

10 Things Needed for Mobile Games Success

Western fascination with the iPhone has invigorated the mobile games and content market, but here are ten things that must happen for mobile to fulfill its enormous destiny:

1.  It’s About the Mobile Web

The principles that have made the World Wide Web such a huge success have to be enabled on mobile networks and devices. This includes innovative and healthy content supply chains, social value, viral spread, viral discovery, free trial, and having a variety of ways to monetize and bill for mobile content. DoCoMo did this right from the beginning of mobile data in Japan in 1999, and today Japan has the highest user penetration, highest user spending on mobile data, and highest spending on mobile content. Far more email in Japan is sent from mobile devices than from desktops. Korea copied the key elements of this model and had similarly great results. In the West, many phone companies ignored DoCoMo and what had been learned from their sister wireline broadband companies, where again today we have consumers spending more on data than on voice because of the Web.

2.  3G Broadbrand Speeds Are a Requirement

To really feel like the Web, 3G is the baseline requirement for network performance. It didn’t happen with 2G.

3.  Touchy Feely: Touchscreen Controls

Another baseline requirement appears to be the better feeling of “flow” that is provided by a touchscreen. Capacitive touchscreens that rely on sensing electricity levels are ideal because they can be more “swipey.” This quality of user experience has obviously caught the imagination of the public.

4.  App Stores with Integrated Billing

A shopping experience like Apple’s App Store that adopts many of the DoCoMo business practices is also a requirement for both the customers and the supply chain.

5.  Virtual Economies Will Lead

For games in particular, we will see a shift from games as a product to games as a service and a shift from paying for the game to free trial with paying for the stuff you need to fully enjoy the game.

6.  Offer Completion Networks

Yes, they need to be cleaned up, but they are an important economic element and they need to migrate to mobile like banner ad networks have.

7.  Content Supply Chain Health

DoCoMo originally paid 91% of content fees to their content publishers and also cultivated support for the innovative and serious professional suppliers who could scale and help drive market growth. Today, companies like Facebook and Apple are actually too laissez faire; they take the app supply chains for granted and overrate the importance of both the big companies and the long tail.

8.  A New Middle Class Must Rise

The supply of Web content or App Store content can divide into three classes: Big companies, the long tail, and an emerging middle class of newer and smaller companies that are doing native development that is innovative and that fits the new mobile medium. The operators of the App Stores need to actively cultivate this new middle class. Ultimately, the long tail will produce some gems and develop some amateurs into professionals. But the long tail must be viewed more as a developmental part of the supply chain, not the key driver. And big companies cannot define or grow a new medium (the Web being Exhibit A). To develop this middle class, the App Store owners need to actively identify, help and support a handful of small companies that have the potential to scale into the future Googles and Facebooks of mobile.

9.  Social Will Go Mobile and Across Platforms

The entire concept of social media that is now dominated by desktop PCs will shift to the mobile side and cross-platform. Why? First, because there are only going to be one to two billion PCs compared to five to six billion mobile devices. Second, because you especially need to be connected 24/7 to obtain social value and this can only come from your mobile device. The shift already happened in Japan – in the West it is merely awaiting the rest of the needs on this list. Finally, when you get to social media as a service in the cloud you will want to connect with friends and other people regardless of what network or device they are coming in from. Companies that are better at covering more platforms will have an advantage.

10.  Social Networks Will Be Mobile Apps but Not Mobile Portals

Facebook is already a potent mobile app, but won’t be the same kind of “destination” that it has becomeo n the PC. Social networks will have to have a shrunken feature set to fit on the mobile side and will compete on a more level playing field with other apps that are entirely crafted with mobility in mind.

There is compelling early evidence of our enormous market potential and how these issues and opportunities are already taking shape. Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker did a great job at the recent Web 2.0 conference of organizing some of the facts and data behind these trends. You can find her slide show at this link, which outlines these exciting topics in full.

Editor’s Note: To read more articles by Trip Hawkins, be sure to check out his OMG blog.

About Trip Hawkins
Trip Hawkins is CEO of Digital Chocolate, a top publisher of social applications like Millionaire City, MMA Pro Fighter and Tower Bloxx. A new media pioneer for 30 years, Trip helped define the personal computer at Apple and founded industry leaders Electronic Arts and 3DO.

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