Unity CEO tells Unite Europe audience that social aspects and advertising, rather than analytics, should be the key investment for devs wanting to ‘outperform’ mobile chart-toppers

John Riccitiello: ‘Mobile giants are leaving money on the table for smaller devs’

Unity chief John Riccitiello believes that up-and-coming developers can outperform the titans of the mobile market by investing in social game design and innovative advertising models.

“A lot of folks want to tell you that the opportunity in mobile is dead,” he told the audience at this year’s Unite Europe conference in Amsterdam. “That the top of the charts is so fixed with a few properties that it’s impossible to break in. Frankly, I disagree – I think there’s lots of room for innovation.”

Riccitiello expressed that “literally 90 per cent of all mobile games are single-player games, with virtually no multiplayer and no social”, contrasting the sector with the multiplayer-driven state of PC and console development, where “90 per cent of games are multiplayer and social”.

“Invest in multiplayer, invest in social, and I think you’ll have a bigger opportunity than you could ever imagine,” he advised the crowd.

Alongside the need to expand mobile’s multiplayer offerings, Riccitiello also highlighted in-game advertising as an emerging way for devs to climb the rankings and even potentially overthrow the long-reigning kings of the platform.

“The history of this industry is pretty straightforward,” he recalled. “It used to be about straightforward product game innovation; if your game was different, it succeeded. That’s not the way it works at the top of the charts anymore.

“The top of the charts is dominated by companies that are playing a different game than most of us are. They’re investing very heavily in analytics so they can understand their customers and optimise in-app purchases. Maximising revenue, minute-to-minute, second-to-second in their game by deepening engagement and drawing more revenue out of their users. They’re taking that money and investing it in user acquisition, so they have a very sophisticated mathematical machine going on. It’s working and that’s why they’re staying at the top. Yes, they’re great games, but the game that they’re really playing is recycling the money in order to stay at the top of the charts.

“I’m here to tell you that the game is changing again. At the top of the charts, virtually none of the games incorporate advertising, so they’re leaving money on the table. They’re not optimising revenue, and the most innovative companies recognise that advertising is in fact driving engagement and driving monetisation. So you can outperform these companies if you take that innovative business model and use it to your advantage. It improves the customer relationship, it improves the revenue and it gives you the dollars to spend on user acquisition.”

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