Mobile Opportunity (by Jon Atkinson)

Latest forecasts by the independent telecommunications analyst Ovum predicts that global mobile phone application downloads will top 18 billion by the end of 2011. This representing a year-on-year growth of 144% while generating revenues from paid for apps of $3.7 billion.

There are many opportunities to make money from within the mobile ecosystem. With over 800,000 applications currently available across the major application stores, the question that is on every developer’s mind is how do I make money from my title in such a competitive environment? Before looking at the approaches to making money, which we will cover in future blogs, we first need to consider what makes a successful mobile application. It doesn’t matter how good your strategy for revenue generation is if no one wants to buy your product!

As with most development activities, the key to creating a successful mobile application is to focus on the end user. The main difference between a mobile applications, traditional video game consoles and computers environments is people use their mobile applications in small time slots rather than spending hours in front of the screen.

Based on our experiences working with some of the most successful mobile developers in the industry we believe the following tips should be considered:

  • Quality. With potentially hundreds of competing applications, it essential that your application functions correctly. A few negative user comments, especially early on, can significantly affect the number of downloads you get. Make sure you test across multiple hardware platforms and operating systems to avoid device specific issues. It is much better to have 20 high quality levels in a game than 100 levels with issues. Ensure graphics and visuals are optimized for different screen sizes where possible.
  • Keep it Simple. The user should be able to pick up the application and operate it initiatively. Except for certain specialist applications, people want to move directly to the content without reading through 10 pages of instructions.
  • Future proof. Have a strategy for updating the content at regular intervals. This could be in the form of new levels, characters or content. Once you have a successful application you want to ensure that people have a reason keep it on their device.
  • Distinctiveness. Ensure that your application stands out from the rest. There are likely to be many similar applications to yours, so you need to look at the competing products and work out what your unique selling points will be to differentiate your product.
  • Performance. Ensure that the application or game performs well over a range of devices. A simple shoot them up game may work well on one low level device but be uncontrollable on a higher end device with more processing power.
  • Controls. Ensure that the functionality can be easily controlled on the phone. There is no point in building the most visually stunning game if the controls can’t be used while the user is traveling on a bumpy bus!
  • Development Platform. Ensure that the underlying code base is re-usable. If you have a successful title you are likely to want to develop similar applications in the future.
  • Portability. Consider up front porting aspects of other operating systems than the one that you are developing for. Although the underlying development languages are different, well-constructed code with sensible comments will lead to a significantly shorter porting time if you decide to convert your title across platform. Alternately consider the use of off the shelf games development platform, such as Unity, which support cross platform conversion or HTML5.
 Contact Jon Atkinson by email at JonA@vmc.com or 877.393.8622.

About VMC Consulting and VMC Game Labs

VMC Consulting is a technology consulting and outsourcing company that provides flexible and scalable build, run and support solutions. VMC Game Labs is the world’s leading partner for games quality assurance and support.
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