|Some impressive numbers of games being downloaded per day.|
Speaking of which, Angry Birds has now hit the astonishing figure of 200 million downloads. That's over all platforms, of course. Some 5 million of those are on the Chrome browser. However you look at it, though, that's a lot of downloads. Not bad for a $140,000 development cost. Rovio is now planning for an IPO.
Meanwhile, naysayers like Nintendo and the now-infamous Denis Dyack say smartphone games are hurting the game industry. Yeah, tell that to Rovio. Of course, if the average gross is $700 per game, that's not a lot. According to Dyack's quoting an EEDAR conference, that's what they said the average smartphone game brings in. I really don't know where that number came from, but it seems absurdly low. I'm perfectly willing to believe that 90% or more of smartphone games don't really make money, at least not a significant amount. But to really hit an average of $700 there would have to be a whole lot of games making less than that in order to balance out the ones that are making millions.
I think the odds certainly favor a smartphone game not making much money at all. Perhaps that will reduce the number of new games rushing into the market, but it sure doesn't seem to have done much at this point to reduce the number of new games.
Piracy might, though, if you listen to the strident anti-pirate crusaders. Is piracy a problem for smartphone games? Not enough to worry about, say developers.When a game is free, who would bother to pirate it? With most games going to the freemium model, piracy turns out to be a non-issue.
When games are priced lower, piracy goes away. When you can track every customer, and you're selling virtual goods for the game, you don't really need to worry about piracy. Piracy becomes a marketing tool. The worse problem these days is going unnoticed; you really need to be worried if nobody wants to pirate your game.
I do think the smartphone game market is ridiculously crowded, and the tools to let good games stand out are still not that robust or widespread. There are ways and means to make money on smartphone games, and it's not just about being lucky. Good design, excellent execution and smart marketing are all important. Sure, luck is still important to becoming a mega-hit. Persistence is probably the most important quality you can have; keep making good games and eventually one of them will do really well. The real trick is to keep your costs down, and find ways to be profitable without relying on a mega-hit.