5 Predictions of 2017

1) Synchronous Game Play will dominate headlines


As asynchronous game design systems dominates the top ranking.  Ie (clash of clans, Game of War, Mobile Strike)  the gradual improvement in Mobile specs and network capabilities are able to support massive “synchronous’ game play.  Hearthstone and Clash Royale are 2 success stories to name a few that have found success in this space.   2017 will mark the year where, it will be almost impossible for a new game to be anywhere near the top 20 if you do not support multiplayer synchronous gameplay.  Just recently Facebook has announced Facebook ‘Instant Games’  which is their rendition of multiplayer game.  

Get ready for the influx of Clash Royale Clones

Similar to what we saw in 2016 where we saw many companies attempt to create their version of Hearthstone.  

  • Cygames: Shadowverse
  • DeNa: Deck Storm
  • Bethesda: Elder Scrolls: Legends
  • Kongregate: Animation Throwdown
  • EA: Plants vs. Zombies Heroes
  • Ankama: Krosmaga

Just to name a few, 2017 will be the year where developers look to create their own rendition of Clash Royale.  As synchronous game play become a prerequisite in high end gaming / gameplay top developers look to recreate the success of Supercell and provide a rich and fast paced multiplayer game for this untapped market.

2) User Acquisition is going to be even more difficult

According to Apptopia, Apples App store and Google Play experience roughly around 15,000 new apps on a daily basis and over 3 million apps available on your selective app store,  As apps continue to flood the app stores, developers and publishers are finding it harder to keep up with their targeted DNU (Daily New Users).  In 2016, publisher have seen ad bids triple in cost and do not see this slowing down.  Major Publishers and developers are still experiencing positive ROI therefore pricing out the smaller dev / publishing hubs that are barely treading water.  The major players are making a power move to weed out the weak and to help maturize this market.

As this transition takes place, the companies that look to profit from this are the content marketing companies.  Apple and Google are already in play with this stage in the mobile publishing life cycle and although still premature, their ad search are still experiencing bidding price growth on a monthly basis.

3) Free to Start is going to try to be a thing

Nintendo will be releasing their third Smartphone game come December 2016 in Super Mario Run.  This marks a huge step forward in Nintendo revised strategy to renew their presence in the gaming market. With the success of Pokemon Go, Nintendo looks to start off the New year with their biggest IP to hit the app store.  Nintendo is gearing up for a new approach with their mobile strategy with Free to Start versus your traditional F2P games that have took over the app store.
President of Nintendo back in September also announced that Nintendo looks to release 4 titles by the end of March 2017, those being Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem and 2 other unnamed titles.  It’ll be interesting to see how much Nintendo pushes this Free to Start concept with all their titles to potentially shift the mobile market to this new format or willl F2P be still the dominant money maker for the mobile platform.  Apple seems to be supportive of Nintendo’s initiative as their tolerance to F2P is becoming more and more apparent as F2P developers constantly manipulate the headlines.
One thing i can say is that what Nintendo is doing is extremely commendable as they still stay true to their users needs and look to provide a fun / easy to approach product to their core market, which are the kids.  With Nintendo taking this line, this will give hope to all the independent developers that a major game developer is not just looking for quick money grab on the mobile market but are looking to provide users with a rich game play experience that users can play Free to Start.

4)  HTML5 Tech is going to flex its muscles

With the inception of HTML5 in 2011, many developers and publishers wish for the days when this technology is stable enough to develop triple A mobile titles.  2017 just might be that year. HTML5 has made great strides since its announcement, and many players will be attempting their rendition of ‘A better gaming  experience’ with this technology.  There are already many small studios embracing this tech and developed a product around this technology.

  • Mobile Gaming
  • Play Testing Content Marketing
  • Web Gamification

2017 will be the year where HTML5 makes a bit of head wind and how far this goes will be based on the quality of the product and how this changes the users experience and for Publishers, the effectiveness of it ROI.

This is definitely disruptive technology and in the future ‘Will’ hurt the pockets of the current winners Apple and Google, but to what effective is still something everyone is waiting for.

5) More and More Acquisitions

The growth of the mobile industry, and how it has a grasped onto our everyday lives is benefiting the pockets of the IT companies and their bottom line.  2017 will be the year where you’ll start to see more IT companies acquire more and more companies as these companies look to branch into new industries.

Its already projected that in 2017, for the first time, Digital Ad spend will surpass Traditional Ad spend. This shift in dynamic will require a lot of traditional business’ to re evaluate their market value and change accordingly.   The trickle affect will of course benefit the IT companies that have already created a presence in the industry but you’ll start to see more service companies that provide this expertise to well established companies that don’t understand this space.  

2016 was a year where a lot of mid level studio companies filed for closure / bankruptcy due to the maturation / saturation of the market and the inability to sustain their current operations. This will only start to accelerate more as the competitive environment continues to get more aggressive. You saw a lot of this in Canada where, Gree and Dena both closed their offices, Road house and United Front Games (Console Dev studios) also closed down due to cash flow.  Kabam just recently sold their Vancouver, BC studio off to Net Marble and are looking to liquidate their other studios in 2017.

All in all this is very natural process in the maturation process for a genre where your winners look to price out the competitors in order to obtain more market share.  As the current market looks quite dim, there will always something new that comes out of the nowhere to re invigorate the IT / gaming industry.  Lets hope Nintendo’s Free to Start provides some possibilities to the small indie studios.

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  • 15+ year mobile application industry veteran, probably product managing multiple apps. If he's not busy running this website, you can probably find him at the gym shooting half court shots, while playing the latest mobile rpg game.

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