Your Steam client should no longer fail if you own more than 25,000 games on Valve’s digital games store. With 1.5 million games between Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, the mobile games sector is dominated by a duopoly.
With no real competition to speak of, Steam has been a reasonably generous ruler thus far. As the closest challenger to Steam, CD Projekt’s GOG is curated and relies heavily on CD Projekt’s IP, such as The Witcher and Cyberpunk (which are also available on Steam). Electronic Arts and other major publishers have their storefronts, but they are increasingly using Steam as well. It took Epic Games a year and a half to figure out how to be the Google Play to Steam’s iOS app store, taking a 12 per cent cut instead of Steam’s usual 30 per cent cut, which is a large chunk out of game producers’ profit margins. In the interim, Epic Games has been shaking up video game distribution by taking on Apple over App Store fees. It charges Fortnite and subpoenaing Valve for sales data. Epic Games has a long way to go to catch up to Steam’s 471 titles by the end of 2020.
The supremacy of the leading platforms is evident, but it’s becoming increasingly disconnected from the overall picture. Many new distribution channels, including independent game stores, social networking platforms, web portals, and cloud-based gaming services, are available to developers and publishers, allowing them to reach a global audience while reducing their reliance on the big four.
A well-balanced distribution strategy for video games is like a well-balanced financial portfolio. There is a danger when relying on just one or a few platforms to help your game achieve critical and commercial success. Even Sony’s PlayStation, the company that has reaped the most benefits from remaining a closed system, is now opening up. MLB While The Show 21 is now available on Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation exclusives may be streamed on Xbox via Rainway, PlayStation is searching for a post that focuses on bringing more of its IP to mobile and PC platforms. Other major players, such as Ubisoft, are extending the reach of their IP to new media, such as mobile and PC browsers, social networks, and more, through projects such as Ubisoft Nano.
Apple’s App Store, the most prominent mobile marketplace, has seen many changes in recent years. Even if it recently reduced its app store commission for games making less than $1 million annually, IDFA reforms will significantly influence the way most mobile games monetize and market themselves – advertising. Cloud gaming suppliers are also at odds with Apple. Companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Nvidia’s GeForce have implemented Progressive Web Application (PWA) tactics to make their games available to iOS platform customers because of Apple’s strict requirements. Regardless of whether these laws are financially driven or aimed to safeguard users (*cough*). They are exposing themselves unnecessarily by putting all of their footballs in one ballbag.
Indie developers have had a challenging year because of the open door policy and the elimination of Steam Greenlight, which was paralleled by changes made by Facebook to its Instant Games platform in the same year (and Facebook is about to reverse its decision). Similarly, how can smaller apps compete with 1.5 million games on the App Store and Google Play without a Google search engine for Google Play? IDFA itself will savage a significant route. Third-party data-driven targeting.
Expanding the sphere of influence
At least $84.3 billion in gaming market revenue will be generated in the Asia Pacific by 2020. Nearly 40% of all money spent on mobile apps is made in China. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan earn more than $2 billion in annual revenue. Last year, APAC spent $40 billion on mobile game advertising, more than twice the amount paid in North America. South Korea and Japan recorded the most excellent average revenue per app user. Playing mobile games on a smartphone is a popular pastime among Indians.
This is where things start to get interesting, I think. Western developers can no longer ignore the vast income and growth prospects outside Europe and North America. But don’t forget about the over 51,000 games on Steam. There are 53 in the Chinese translation. Huawei’s more than 600 million devices won’t use Google Play beginning in early 2021. Apple’s App Store has a sliver of the whole market. Tencent, miHoYo, and Happy Elements are China’s most well-known mobile game developers. The most famous PC games in China are unknown to most of us.
For the sake of argument, let me claim that it’s all too simple to believe that everyone plays the same games in our increasingly interconnected world. This is a blatant fallacy. Although noteworthy pan-regional games exist, such as Playrix’s Township and miHoYo’s GenShin Impact, it’s important to remember that these are just two instances. However, more developers and publishers can’t take advantage of standardized, scalable distribution mechanisms. The geopolitical situation may be to blame for this. What about language and culture? Possibly a splintered gaming market. Is monetization a concern for you? Cross-market licensing, localization, translation, and networking are becoming more common in the game distribution ecosystem.
Establishing a distribution plan that works
From the beginning, it is essential to incorporate a long-term distribution strategy in your thoughts. Too often, I meet game developers who have made fantastic games but have no idea what to do with them once they’re finished. Instead of looking for a publisher and hoping that their game stands out among the thousands of others being evaluated every month, they send them out into the most popular but most crowded channels in hopes that they would acquire popularity organically. Everything from the game engine you use on down is affected by distribution and revenue. Many developers don’t realize that their choice of the machine can affect the distribution possibilities for their finished IP. Furthermore, not all platforms and shops have the same revenue options. A game’s earning potential will be considerably increased if it is possible to replace in-app purchases with incentivized advertising on specific platforms.
For the best results, it’s essential to combine this long-term vision with timely actions. If you aren’t nimble enough to seize the possibilities that present themselves, someone else will. The more time you give yourself to get your game out there, the better your chances are of capturing a significant portion of the market. Opportunistic developers willing to piggyback on other people’s work are sadly a target for great games that do not distribute effectively. When consumers search for your game, it’s not a certainty that they’ll download it from one of the many uncurated online game stores that exist today. To ensure that it is, strategic thought and rapid response times are essential.”