Every Developer’s Challenge: The Success & Failure of Mobile Games

In our pursuit to understand the mobile gaming market better, we stumbled upon real challenges that both, indie developers & big companies, face. Our network gets contacted on a daily basis by developers and if there is one major factor that we learned most from them, its their challenges. For the indie developer, it is almost impossible to promote a game without the financial backup and indie developers often lack such a resource. The big companies have serious rivalry in the mobile market and as they succeed they expand branches, but a downfall can be waiting for them ahead anytime. The major problem is that even if there is at least one successful game for a company/developer, it doesn’t mean that the next game released will be as successful, if at all.

First of all, let us take a company as an example. In a post written by CEO & Founder of JuiceBoxGames, Michael Martinez, he gives us a closer view of the success and failure that JuiceBoxGames faced. This company is best known for their very successful game HonorBound, an epic RPG title. HonorBound managed to raise a community of 5 million players strong that spent over 8 million dollars on the game. Sounds like JuiceBoxGames has been doing great, right? How could this company fail in the mobile gaming industry? Valid questions indeed. But you see, after 3.5 years, JuiceBoxGames has announced that it will shut down. What went wrong?

The company started small and managed to grow as their first game, HonorBound, became extremely successful among mobile gamers. When they demonstrated the game to investors, they eventually managed to convince them of the potential that their game had. It all seemed bright for the company until they released their second game, StormBorn. Although the game is quite a fascinating one, it only got 10% of the downloads that HonorBound succeeded to garner. The problem was that they couldn’t transfer their community of 5 million players to their second game. It appears that players favor individual games rather than the companies that make them.

Keep in mind that at that time, companies like Supercell and King were ruling the Top Charts. These big companies are major players in the mobile market and their ‘hit’ games have been downloaded hundreds of millions of times. According to the CEO of JuiceBoxGames, the failure was that they didn’t design their games to become a revenue engine. That is exactly what Supercell has done with Clash of Clans; they developed a competitive & fun game that lasts for decades and players will keep pumping cash into it. Supercell simply focused on one game and made it extremely successful, and then it managed to release other titles.

Look at Super Evil Megacorp as another example. They released only one game, Vainglory, and because they are working on it alone, they successfully made it into the best MOBA game in the market. While when we look at Gameloft, they have been in the industry since the beginning and have contributed countless games that have been very successful, but they were forced to shut down numerous offices across the world due to many problems that they were facing. Perhaps, the reason that we find Gameloft still active is because they have built a strong presence in the mobile arena since the dawn of the App Store and they have a great amount of financial backup to keep the company sustainable.

The CEO of JuiceBoxGames ponders on a serious issue in his post, ”Building a great product is a requirement and it can work, but make it easier on yourself with a great distribution strategy. My failure to address this (whether through IP, marketing budget/expertise, unique take on community/YouTube/Twitch, or eSports) is the largest reason for our failure.” There are a lot of factors to touch upon when developing a game. As a delevoper/company you must ask: What market will I target? What have my competitors contributed to this market? What strategy would be viable to reach my target market?

What we conclude from the daily hardships that developers and companies alike face is that strategy and marketing is everything. Strategy must include the future of the product being built. It should also include an understanding of the target market. Say for example you are building a card game. Then you must ask: What are other successful card games out there? What do players like about them? How can I deliver an equal or better game than theirs?

After you build an understanding of your target market, design a strategy, and develop a product that can last for years; then comes the challenge of promotion & marketing. You have a great game, but how can you convince millions of players that your game is the real deal? More importantly, you don’t want them to just try your game out, you want them to play it constantly. It all comes down to finding the right marketing approach in order to reach the millions of players that might potentially become a committed community for your game(s)

These are major challenges that developers and companies face in the mobile gaming industry and we have written this article to help bring awareness to the issues that require most of your attention. In fact, we want to play a bigger role in helping developers and companies devise the ultimate strategy and design a marketing campaign that will impress your target market. Thus, we have left a contact form below in case you do need help in these areas. We wish you good luck and we hope that we have shed some light on the issues that matter.