In 2020 mobile gaming was estimated to have generated about $79.5 billion in revenue. A huge number, yet only 0.01% of published mobiles apps successfully make a return on investment. To put that into perspective, an app developer has more chance of being hit by lightning than publishing a profitable mobile game [01]. Ouch (literally). So, what’s gone wrong?

Ilker Aydin, Famobi Founder and CEO

Ilker Aydin

A highly successful mobile gaming entrepreneur heralding from Cologne, Germany. He started his first web technology business, Kaisergames, focused on Flash gaming in 2004. Kaisergames grow to over 50 million active users per month before being eventually sold to Germany’s biggest media house in 2014. After Kaisergames, Ilker went on to found and run Famobi, a financially independent and pioneering development studio focused on HTML5 technologies.

Famobi games

Famobi

With a catalogue of over 500 premium HTML5 Games (also available as APKs) that have generated more than 2 billion gameplays, Famobi is unquestionably a force in the mobile gaming space. This success is delivered by an experienced, multi-cultural and dynamic team of experts based in Ukraine, the Netherlands, France, Turkey and many more countries around the world. Famobi is also partnered with some of the biggest names in mobile such as Google, Snapchat, Amazon, Huawei and Microsoft.

App Ecosystem from a gaming perspective

Let’s dig into those numbers a bit more. In 2020, games accounted for around 71% of total app revenue:

  • iOS revenue 2020 around $47.6 billion.
  • Google Play revenue 2020 around $31.9 billion.
    • 98% of Google Play revenue comes from free apps.

Approximately 0.01% of apps are successful enough to realise significant revenue in, what has become, a highly competitive market.

Famobi On Nom Run game

To this day, the most popular app category in both the Apple AppStore and Google PlayStore is games:

  • Around 4000 games are added everyday (that’s ~1.4 million new game apps per year).
  • Today,
    • Apple App Store accounts for 984,000 games; around 92% of them are free.
    • Google Play Store accounts for 442,000 games; around 96% of them are free.

(Interestingly, we see that by far the most popular monetization model for games is in-app purchases, with around 79% of all games using this.)

Some “back of a napkin” calculations:

  • Theoretic revenue for all successful games (per year):

    • Total app store revenues in 2020: $79.5 billion
    • Proportion of revenue from games: 71% –> $56.45 billion
    • Amount due to successful games: 0.01% –> $56.44 billion
  • Theoretic revenue per individual successful game (per year):

    • Number of successful games: 0.01% of 1.426 million games –> 143
    • Revenue per game: $56.45 billion / 143 –> $396 million

$396 million per successful game per year! Holy guacamole! But what about all the other games? Um … they each get an average $4 year … oops!

Of course, these numbers don’t reflect the full complexity of the situation, but as a guidance they certainly illustrate the disparity that exists between the few hyper successful games (winner takes all) and the rest of the mobile gaming industry. Clearly “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” [02].

App Fatigue

This term is used to describe when customers are too overwhelmed to download or use new apps (this was touched upon in another editorial here).

Smartphone users are faced with an excessive amount of applications which bring with them all kinds of unforeseen and unwanted issues. For example, seemingly ceaseless notification alerts, device storage fill-up, home-screen chaos [09], general information overload, update anarchy, avaricious network guzzling, and so on and so forth.

Tired and frustratyed; Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

As an aside, it should be noted that both Apple and Google have made repeated attempts to address app pandemonium:

  • Apple introducing the iOS App Library to help people with overflowing home-screens [03], or Siri suggestions for which app you might want to open based on time and location.
  • Notification consolidation, alert “pauses” and “focus” modes.
  • Automatic offloading (or hibernating) of infrequently used apps
  • Shifting user data (photos, music, documents …) from device to cloud
    • (incidentally creating a whole new business model as a way of resolving device storage issues they helped create) …

So, what are the top reasons for app fatigue? (in no particular order):

  • Too many ads.
  • Too many in-game payments (iAP).
  • Poor user interface (UI) design and “clunky” user experience (UX).
    • Getting this right takes time and effort … not always obvious with a success rate of 0.01%!
  • Cluttered app stores make it hard for users to find quality content.
    • And as an aside, it’s the app store owners that decide which apps gets on the lucrative opening screens, which means developers/publishers have little power to influence the surfacing of their apps above sea level).
  • 44% of games have significant bugs and defects.
    • Sometimes this is due to lazy coding or insufficient testing, but often its related to the complexity of coding apps that run on devices with multiple different OS versions, multiple different OEM OS “flavours”, and multiple different hardware specs. [10]
  • Customers prefer free apps (go figure!).
    • Which is counter-intuitive given that customers also cite iAP as a major reason for app fatigue. Hey customers, those app developers have got to make money somehow.
  • Charts driven by marketing, not by quality.

The result of all this is that 77% of users uninstall a downloaded app almost immediately … sometimes without even having tried it!

Whilst Quick Apps can’t solve all of the issues, and certainly game developers and designers need to be more attentive to UI/UX, iAP abuse and ad overload, Quick Apps can certainly help. And, in several ways.

Quick Apps - a better alternative for players


Instant access to games without tedious downloads and installs, yet still a native experience

This is a huge deal for several reasons:

  1. Instant access removes the friction between seeing and playing.

    • A friend sends me a link in a chat, I jump right into the game.
    • I’m waiting in line for an amusement park ride, I see the QR code, play the game, win, jump to the head of the queue.
    • A reality TV show displays a QR code for the game contestants are playing, I join that game and play with them.
  2. Since Quick Apps use smaller file sizes than native apps, their resource impacts on phones and network is reduced.

    • Less device storage impacts broadens the addressable market size.
    • Less network impact reduces pressure on capped data rate plans.
    • And as “aside”, did you realize that 40% of a mobile phone’s carbon footprint is due to usage, and that 28% of green house gas emissions from digital technologies are due to network infrastructure! [04] I’m sure that we would all like to be greener, and every little helps.
  3. And if Quick Apps can be used without installation, then home-screens don’t clutter so quickly.

    • I see a QR code, or receive a download link from a trusted source, a acquire the app seamlessly, I use it, it de-caches from my device after a certain period of time (unless I explicitly add it to my home-screen). Ad hoc app use becomes a painless non-event. And that is how it should be!

Cross-platform: multiple devices and platforms

/explain and give examples/

High retention rate: wide range of marketing mechanisms.

/um… this appears to be more a developer advantage than a player one/

Developers can create quick apps quickly thanks to its easy-to-use framework by using 20% less code than normal android apps.

/um… this appears to be more a developer advantage than a player one/

Web-technology combined with new innovations like Quick Apps offers users a frictionless access to their beloved applications

It’s become something of a tired old trope, but the world really is getting faster [05]. People are more on-the-go than ever before, and in so doing, are turning massively to their mobile devices [06]: communicating, working, socializing, learning, reading, playing, booking tickets, watching “TV” … you name it, we’re mobiling it. In fact, over 90% of the world’s internet population today access the net via mobile devices [07].

Batman and Robin
"Holy interplanetary yard stick!"

And what we don’t want more than anything else in the world (excluding pineapple on pizza), is to stop, search in an app store, wait for download, realise we have the wrong app, “rinse and repeat”, before actually doing what we wanted to do. “Time is money”, mobile internet connections can drop out. The window of opportunity can be surprisingly small.

Beyond this slightly light-hearted regard is a serious issue. It’s tiring, time consuming and quite frankly a pain in the butt for users. And from a publisher’s perspective, it risks losing the audience at the very moment they have the time or desire to play your game.

This doesn’t just impact “first contact”, but also re-use. Least we forget, most apps make their money from iAPs and ads, so getting people to re-use an app is kind of important.

Allowing people to discover a game whilst out and about, play in the moment, get excited, and then play on the big screen back home is the dream. For this we need new mechanisms for app discoverability and acquisition that cross platform boundaries due to their basis in ubiquitous, widely supported and normalised technologies.

All this, and we didn’t even mention the subject of game discovery in AR/VR. It’s pretty obvious that being “dumped” out of an XR experience to go rummage through an app store, is certainly not something users are going to appreciate.

Quick Apps - a better alternative for developers/publishers


Developers & publishers will have the first mover advantage

/explain/

High retention rate: wide range of marketing mechanisms

/explain and give examples/

Endless options for discoverability and promotion

Quick app discoverability is better than that of native apps for small developers:

  • You need to spend huge amount in marketing to even reach top apps
  • Even then it is even more work to stay relevant overtime and generate strong revenues
  • Almost all successful apps are from big publishers.
  • For most, it is easiest to find success with web games than with apps

Provide instant access to games via QR codes or other promotional material with no download required

/re-word the above into more an “article” format/

Great additional source for income/revenue

/explain and give examples/

Wrapping up

/give a short closing statement/


SOURCES:


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