Chairman of GameIS, Nir Miretzky, covers everything on what it takes to establish and maintain strong game communities and illustrates the trends and challenges in developing mobile games.
Read on for edited highlights from Miretzky's podcast:
GameIS: Turning a game community into an industry
“GameIs is an association based on volunteers who want Israel to be a good place for the gaming industry. When we started we were just a small community of around 50-70 people who were passionate about games and dreamed about working in the gaming industry.”
“Then around 10 years ago, with [the launch] of the App Store and Facebook, small groups and individuals were able to make their own games, even out of their garage, and immediately some of them became successful. It was a blue ocean of opportunity and as monetization and ad networks developed, the community also continued to grow into a business. Within two-three years, we had hundreds of companies and the [possibility] of becoming an industry emerged.”
“In the beginning people [really] had no experience and there were practically no working professionals, so we wanted to educate people who wanted to join the gaming industry. We put together a lot of conferences, meetups, and ‘game jams’ even before the words ‘meetup’ or ‘game jam’ existed, and this year will actually be our tenth global game jam.”
The game community in Israel
“It's a very cooperative industry, and we have the whole world to market to. Since it's not the Israeli customers that are going to move the needle, Israel serves as a good test market. In the beginning people were making games more for their passion and this is maybe why we’re a good community, because everyone is here together for a ‘good cause’. You can see [the cooperation] in all the meetups and the game jams - a CEO for instance will work on a student’s class project, or people will make a successful game and two weeks later those same people will be in a meetup, explaining how they hacked the marketing or how they got featured on iOS. So yes, it's super cooperative.”
Mobile gaming is becoming an accessible industry
“Most of the game industry today is focused around mobile games since they’re very diverse. You can find people making hard core games for mobile and hyper-casual games of course, as well as everything in the middle. [Everything has become] much more feasible.”
“Another good thing that happened to the industry, is that there are new and different marketing options for indie games, and developers can easily reach a bigger audience for much less [money] if they have a good product.”
Constant iteration and improvement of mobile games
“Mobile games are constantly iterating and improving because they get real-time updates and real-time reviews, and game companies change their games all the time accordingly. You will never play the same game twice- if you wait for two months it's not the same game. You can see Candy Crush is still getting new levels after a few years because a lot of people are still playing and paying money. As long as it's more profitable to still make levels and then to buy the users, - it will go on.”
Biggest challenge facing casual games: discovery and marketing
“[Especially] regarding casual games, the biggest problem today is discovery and marketing, which are two sides of the same coin. Companies have to put a lot of [money and] effort into making casual games, and then they need to get high profits in order to cover those costs.”
“In general the problem is that you need to be a strong marketer to get a big audience, and it's very hard because you only really have two big channels [Apple and Google] to work with. So then you need to figure out how to stand out. Even if you have a good product and good people, that’s no promise that you’ll succeed.“
“A huge problem especially in Israel is that the government doesn’t invest in content, and ultimately gaming is content. The technological aspect of gaming is not the main issue - all the tech and code in games are very similar to one another - it’s the content that differs. When you go to the government to ask for a grant they turn you down because they don’t invest in content. They don’t understand the game model.”
How is the game industry is going to evolve over the next years?
“One of the main trends is that gambling companies are acquiring gaming companies and using their knowledge in user acquisition and monetization to make money out of entertainment. For example, Playtika was acquired by Caesars and Aristocrat bought Plarium. Also indie games are taking a bigger part of the gaming culture, which is good. Until a few years ago a better game was the one with better graphics using more computer power and more expensive production resources - not [necessarily] the one with the best idea or the best gameplay.”
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