Last night at Samsung’s Mobile Mixer, we were encouraged to think, drink, and connect with mobile developers. The place was packed, the food was gone before it made it to the buffet, and there was one drink ticket per guest. Not much to inspire an E3 weary mob to either drink or connect, but there certainly was a lot to think about.
On a panel discussing the troubling future of premium games in a market all but taken over by freemium models (and perhaps the next trend: the promotional tie in, like Fallout Shelter, which managed to knock Candy Crush off its throne in just a few hours after the announcement and release). The message to premium developers was clear. And dire.
“We have to stop racing to the bottom.”
“I don’t see any current trend saving premium games.”
“If your game is $20, how do you prove to consumers that it is twenty times better than a one dollar game?”
Those were the words of a panel, which included Andreas Hofman (Senior Director of Samsung Developer Connection), Jason Chien (Founder and CEO of Bit Toys Inc), Stan Liu (Founder and President of Atomic Bullfrog), and Lorne Lanning (Co-Founder and President of Oddworld Inhabitants). But the most damning words came from Mike Rose of tinyBUILD Games.
When asked to give advice to mobile game developers, Mike replied, “Don’t make mobile games. Make them for PC and consoles AND mobile devices.” He then handed off the microphone, laughing and shaking his head at his own snark.
I overheard him telling someone, “Well, I won’t be invited to too many more of these.” I approached him to get his card and to congratulate him on his candor and courage. He told me, “I just wanted to shake him up. He used to be my boss,” indicating the moderator, Chris James, the Managing Director of Steel Media.
Whether this was a personal troll of a buddy or a serious statement to a struggling niche, the message was clear. Premium mobile games will only succeed if the content is truly great.