Mobile games are taking over, gaining market share as better mobile devices allow for better game design, mechanism and overall experience. In fact, by 2020 the mobile games market will come close to taking almost half of the entire digital game market share:
This trend is being led by veteran game companies like Supercell, Kabam, Machine Zone, and Playtika as well as newer studios, rising to fame on the waves of the mobile and social experience. Some studios, such as EA and Gameloft (recently acquired by Vivendi), adapted quickly to the new technology and have not only remained in power, but became bigger than ever. Others, like GLU, struggled at first but found their way back on top. And, of course, quite a few studios (Digital Chocolate is a good example) could not keep up with the fast technological pace and ended up either shutting down or selling their remaining assets to other ‘survivors’.
There’s no denying that mobile games are here to stay, but is there another wave of change on the horizon? There’s a storm coming, and it’s threatening to change the mobile game space once again. This innovative “storm” is of course VR and AR mobile applications and games.
We’ve all seen a peek of the AR’s market potential with the huge success of Pokemon GO. While that success can be attributed to other factors, AR and VR reflect a new gaming trend with positive monetization forecasts. According to Statista the predicted market value of AR/VR by 2025 will be around 35 billion dollars while Digi-Capital report suggests that AR/VR are sitting on a $120B mountain.
Another clear evidence is the interest shown by the biggest players in the online market – Facebook paid $2 billion for Oculus, Google paid $1.4 billion for Magic Leap, Apple acquired Metaio and other big players (Microsoft, HTC/Valve,Sony, Samsung) are also into it.
Will game studios adapt to AR/VR?
How will the tier 1 mobile game studios react? Some are starting to show interest, while others are already taking action and trying out the new technology. Imangi Studios decided that Temple Run, their super hit game, is the perfect candidate for this kind of experiment. Since porting isn’t really a good option with VR, Temple Run was re-designed from its base code and launched on Facebook’s Oculus VR platform. As challenging as the experience was, Imangi’s co-founder, Keith Shepherd is positive that it will not be the last one. However, since VR and AR require a lot of manpower and expertise, and since adoption of both AR and VR is still low (especially VR, which requires special equipment), monetization potential remains a mystery at this point.
The future is for those who dare
IAP and advertising will be a big part of AR and VR, as they are with any mobile experience, but we’re not there yet. Paid/Premium games will be more dominant with VR in the coming 1-2 years, as they were in the early smartphone days. As Tier 1 game studio are mostly accustomed to F2P genre, they may be hesitant to take unnecessary risks and shift back to paid apps. This opens the door for entrepreneur studios to take charge and establish their presence in the VR/AR game environment. The near future is exciting for those who will dare to try something different.