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The Room Dev Says Monetization is Killing Mobile

Is monetization killing the mobile gaming industry? According to Barry Meade, it is.

Fireproof Games Co-founder and developer Barry Meade of The Room and The Room 2, posted an article on Polygon sharing his thoughts on the mobile gaming industry, stating that "the free-to-play model is one of the main reasons it is dying on its arse," according to an article I read by Chris Scullion with CVG.

Free-to-play advocates naturally think their model is dominant because "that's what mobile gamers want," explaining that in-app purchases are just the players way of saying they care. I don't know about you but have you seen many of these games? Many of these so called "free-to-play games" are just ploys to suck you in that way, you'll end up spending money later.

"Mobile is truly a landscape dominated by free and casual games. Attend a mobile event and you'll think the most interesting reason to make games is monetization," says Barry Meade.

"Pitch a title that isn't games-as-a-service to publishers or investors and they'll practically install new doors to slam in your face. The narrative has been agreed upon: casual and free is 'what mobile gamers want'."

"Recent data shows 20% of mobile games get opened once and never again. 66% have never played beyond the first 24 hours and indeed most purchases happen in the first week of play."

"Amazingly only around 2-3% of gamers pay anything at all for games, and even more hair-raising is the fact that 50% of all revenue comes from just 0.2% of players."

 

Meade revealed in his article that since the 2012 release of The Room, Fireproof has made over $5 million. Candy Crush Saga and other free games have been reported to be making that much in a couple of days. Mobile games are said to have brought in $10 billion in 2013. In regards to Candy Crush Saga, is it due to their monetization methods that led to the monstrous $2 billion that they took in alone? This pay-to-play method that they banked on so successfully?

The major issue here is that the games industry is making mobile games that nobody cares about and in addition, they add tons of look-a-likes. I can't tell you how many variations of Flappy Bird or Angry Birds are out there.

"Free-to-play producers chime that quality levels are obviously fine, "If it's making money it's objectively good, see?" Well no, not quite, shit sells by the ton every day. In the real world Burger King doesn't get three Michelin stars. Burger King gets to be happy with its revenue not its reviews, and our industry’s inability to see the difference will only pull us further into our creative vacuum," Meade said.

"Our rush to make everything free ensured we have drained the entire mobile market of money in return for the accomplishment of pleasing a statistically insignificant amount of people. In our hands mobile's ecosystem has been sown with salt, turned to dust and become God’s Anvil for game developers."

As far as guaranteeing spending, people will buy what entertains them. Consumers want choice and plenty of it. They'll give their money to those who can give them a unique experience, a one-of-a-kind if you will. If they can't get it anywhere else, you have that customer locked in.

"As soon as the joy factor of a game is high enough all the fake "pillars for success" like marketing, PR, data analysis and "giving people what they want" crumble away like the mere scaffolding they are. I love to bring up Minecraft as an example of this and it's only somewhat because I enjoy the terror in mobile developers eyes when I do."

"Minecraft needs to be counted the f**k into every conversation about mobile success because it's a spectacular example of how flow charts and financial models tell you f**k all about the real business we are in. Its colossal size is not some mutant tumor, it really is that much better than any other game on mobile or any platform."

"I think this terrifies half the industry and I love it," says Barry Meade.

"Minecraft is not an outlier, it's a leader. It's not to be ignored but gazed at: this is what success based on pleasing an audience looks like. Hell yes its $200m sales are a hard act to follow - but only if you need $200m! $2 million on the other hand is a bonanza for developers like Fireproof, and if you can be 1% as good as Notch maybe you can make 1% of Minecraft’s revenue."

"I am arguing that this is what we have forgotten in our chase for mobile profit, that we can’t see the creative woods for the data trees. For all our mountains of information we’ve collected about user habits and sales, the gut-level ability to give joy and inspire our audience remains the job of our industry’s creative people first and every other industry role second. Our ability to communicate to, reach and inspire the people that we make things for is the foundation for everything any artist or craftsperson ever produced."

"I am arguing that this is what we have forgotten in our chase for mobile profit, that we can’t see the creative woods for the data trees. For all our mountains of information we’ve collected about user habits and sales, the gut-level ability to give joy and inspire our audience remains the job of our industry’s creative people first and every other industry role second. Our ability to communicate to, reach and inspire the people that we make things for is the foundation for everything any artist or craftsperson ever produced."

Here with all that Barry Meade says so passionately is the truth and I cannot argue with him. 

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Published May. 12th 2014

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