Consoles vs. mobile: Present and future of platforms

There is hardly a PC or console game that can compete with summoners war toa farmable team. Just 24 hours after its release, Rockstar Games achieved a turnover of 800 million US dollars and was able to sell 11.21 million units of the game. After three days, the billion mark was broken and after six weeks, 29 million games had already been delivered. Thus Publisher Take Two could sell already in one and a half months more units of the play than of the predecessor. Currently, 65 million games have been sold, all platforms added up.

That may sound astronomical, but there is an up-and-coming market where such numbers are daily business. Mobile games are becoming more and more important and could generate more sales than the console market for the first time next year!

The money in your pocket

The market research company Newzoo sees the global games market growing at an average annual rate of 6.6 percent between 2015 and 2019. This does not seem particularly spectacular. However, this analysis predicts that the currently most dominant video games market, namely consoles powered by TV sets, will lose four percent of the total market, while the smartphone business as a whole will take another ten percent. Handhelds such as PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS will play virtually no role in 2019. By 2015 they already accounted for only 3 percent of the total market, by 2019 it is expected to be just one percent.

In 2019, console (26%) and PC games (25%) are expected to account for just under half of the total market, while games for tablets (11%) and smartphones (34%) are expected to account for 45 percent of total sales. But where does this growth come from and which titles currently generate the greatest profits?

Data from the online analysis service Statista show that the most successful iPhone game in March, Game of War, had a turnover of 1.55 million dollars in the United States – every day and in the USA alone! Just behind followed Clash of Clans, which in March generated nearly $1.2 million in revenue per day in the US. Even the tenth-placed Summoners War was able to turn over $150,000 a day and in March alone came to just under $4.5 million.

Considering that the production costs for mobile games are often significantly lower than for AAA console games, it is easy to understand that this is a highly attractive market for developers. The money of the players will be pulled in the future in the wahrsten sense of the word ever more frequently from the trouser pockets.

More than lax entertainment

Mobile gaming, hitherto referred to as casual hell, is growing out of its infancy and offers increasingly sophisticated and attractive entertainment. Ports of Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider or GTA have not only arrived on the small devices, they often also receive very good ratings and can now be controlled much more precisely than was the case with the first attempts at walking.

Some outstanding gaming experiences can even be found on smart devices before they are released for consoles, or remain completely exclusive. The Monument Valley puzzle adventure has reached a metascore of 89 and has been downloaded in such numbers that, although it’s basically free, it could turn over $14 million in two years. Of the 26 million downloads, 21 million were free. This is a popular way for mobile games to ask for cash afterwards via in-app purchases. This works very well in many cases. 8 Ball Pool on iOS collected 959,000 dollars between 8 November 2015 and 7 December 2015, of which almost three quarters came from purchases in the app, Apptopia reports. The last quarter comes from advertising placed in the app.

In contrast to full-price console games, providers of mobile games now have to follow this approach almost as a matter of necessity. Players are comparatively seldom willing to pay anything for smartphone games, and if they do, it has to be as cheap as possible. However, if you have them on the hook, you as a provider try to convert the enthusiasm of the players as good as possible into money. Some companies know how to do this very well.

What Rockstar is to Take Two, the Finnish mobile developer Supercell is to its Japanese main shareholder Softbank. The makers of Clash of Clans continue to write phenomenal numbers. In 2014 the developer achieved a turnover of 1.55 billion dollars, last year it was with 2.3 billion a proud 37 percent more. The profit alone amounted to 930 million dollars. With just three games (Clash of Clans, Boom Beach and Hay Day), this is an enormous achievement, which was connected with the market entry in China, among other things.

In contrast to Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds, who had to lay off numerous employees after an extreme expansion and a sharp drop in sales, Supercell always took care to keep the team relatively small. The developer has almost 180 employees, most of whom, according to CEO Ilkka Paananen, know each other by name. In contrast to Angry Birds, which, after an enormous flight, is now almost in freefall, Supercell seems to have got the problem of user retention under control, a stumbling block that is a major problem for many developers of mobile games. For this reason, Clash of Clans is currently also the most successful app worldwide and Supercell is the object of desire of numerous investors who want to get rid of the developer of Softbank.


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