Rob Grossberg, CEO of mobile development and distribution firm TreSensa, offers an insight into the opportunities beyond crowded app stores

The mobile web: Removing the restrictions of app stores

For 95 per cent of game studios, the era of making a big score in the App Stores is over; the economics simply aren’t there.

The going rate to acquire users on a cost-per-install basis in the App Stores or through Facebook App Ads now stands in the $3 to $4 range. This means that in order to merely break even, game developers need to keep users hooked on their game and spending at an aggressive rate of $1.50 to $2 per month for two full months – centuries in the ever-shifting gaming landscape.

For the vast majority of game developers out there without massive marketing budgets to support their games, they are stuck with great mobile games that nobody is playing or even knows exist. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Alternative methods of distributing and monetising mobile games are becoming more and more accessible. In particular, the mobile web has emerged as a powerful way for game developers to channel their games to users without the cumbersome intermediary of App Stores.

For 95 per cent of game studios, the era of making a big score in the App Stores is over; the economics simply aren’t there.

The future of mobile game distribution lies with extending gaming content outside of just the traditional App Stores and into user rich areas like mobile media sites, blogs, chat services, browser content stores, and even inside of other native apps. Instead of users needing to go to an App Store to find games, the games will find the users wherever they are consuming their media.

Major media companies, web publishers and game portals that already have large mobile audiences are now looking to further engage their users with native-quality HTML5 game content. Game studios willing to take the plunge and begin developing games in HTML5 have the opportunity to reach millions of users with their games without any upfront marketing costs.

That is because the mobile web completely eliminates the need to spend upfront dollars on marketing, as the emerging distribution channels for mobile web games work almost exclusively on a revenue share basis. This, in turn, means the games that are developed for the mobile web can be more creative and innovative, as developers no longer have to obsess over constantly pushing their users to a purchase point within game play simply to recoup upfront marketing spends.

In addition, the cost of game creation tends to be far lower than that of native game development since with a single code base, the games can reach audiences on mobile (and desktop!), independent of operating system or device.

Mobile web-based games can also be monetised in unique ways unavailable in the App Stores. None of the rules and restrictions imposed on gaming apps by Apple or Google apply to mobile web games. Have you heard about Apple’s recent crackdown on incentivised marketing techniques within apps? Well, no such prohibitions apply on the mobile web.

The mobile web requires less on behalf of the gamer—no need to commit to downloading a game, no need to wait for the game to download.

Of course the mobile web supports standard in-game advertising, including banner ads, interstitials, and video ads, all with advanced targeting available. In-game purchasing is available through carrier billing, PayPal and/or credit cards, and can apply to both digital goods (allowed in the App Stores) and physical goods (not allowed in the App Stores). You can even package up multiple games and offer them on a subscription basis within certain distribution channels.

As mobile web gaming grows, the benefits it offers gamers are becoming increasingly apparent. The mobile web plays on the instant gratification gamers seek when they engage with content. It requires less on behalf of the gamer—no need to commit to downloading a game, no need to wait for the game to download.

Switching between different games is effortless, satisfying gamers’ demands for wide varieties of snackable and accessible content. Instead of being restricted to a single method of discovery, games on the mobile web can be discovered through multiple channels at no additional monetary or time expense to the developers.

The opportunity is right there for innovative game studios to lead the way in this whole new area for mobile game distribution and monetisation. Is the mobile web the best fit for all studios? Definitely not. If you are building massive games with heavy graphic and sound requirements, it is probably best to stick with the App Stores and hope you can be part of the 5 per cent of studios who can succeed.

But if you create casual, addictive, fun to play games, the mobile web is a great option for breaking from the restrictive and unsustainable formula of App Stores. The mobile web makes it easy for developers to create successful, profitable mobile games that can be distributed to millions of users through a host of emerging channels.

So what are you waiting for? 

About MCV Staff

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