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83% of Mobile Games Meet Their Demise Within Three Years of Launch, New Report Finds

Many Games Die Before They Develop

A recent survey involving hundreds of developers sheds light on concerning trends within the mobile gaming industry. The findings suggest that the “live service” model, commonly employed in the industry, is proving to be less effective on smartphones and tablets. Despite the substantial efforts invested in development, the outcome for the majority of mobile games following this model appears to be failure.

The study underscores the challenges faced by developers in creating sustainable and successful mobile games. The prevalent use of the “live service” approach, which relies on ongoing updates and engagement to maintain player interest, is not yielding the anticipated results in the mobile gaming landscape. This revelation raises questions about the viability of current development strategies and emphasizes the need for a reevaluation of approaches to enhance the long-term success of mobile games.

Atomik Research, a creative market research company, has conducted a comprehensive survey interviewing 500 developers across the United States and the United Kingdom, uncovering concerning trends in the mobile gaming industry. According to the “Good Games Don’t Die” report, a staggering 83% of mobile games experience failure within the first three years after their launch. Shockingly, the challenges are not limited to post-launch struggles, as the study reveals that 43% of games face premature cancellation during the development phase, never making it to release. This underscores the fragility of the mobile gaming landscape, highlighting the need for developers to address critical issues both during development and post-launch to improve industry success rates.

The findings of the report expose the precarious nature of mobile game development, urging developers to reconsider their strategies to navigate the challenges that lead to high failure rates. With almost half of the games succumbing to cancellation before release and the majority facing failure within three years, the insights provided by Atomik Research emphasize the urgency for a reevaluation of industry practices to ensure the sustained success of mobile games.

According to a recent report, a substantial 76% of mobile games attain their peak revenue within the initial year of launch. However, a striking contrast emerges in the second year, with a mere 4% managing to replicate this success. The trend is attributed not only to the unpredictable nature of casual mobile gamers but also to the reluctance of a minority of developers to embrace an effective “live” gaming service approach.

The report underscores the critical role played by the first year in determining the financial success of mobile games, highlighting the challenge of sustaining momentum in the subsequent years. The dwindling percentage of games achieving peak revenue in the second year points to a broader industry issue—namely, the hesitancy among developers to adopt a robust “live” gaming service model. To navigate the evolving landscape of mobile gaming, developers may need to reconsider their strategies, recognizing the importance of ongoing engagement and updates to maximize revenue beyond the initial launch period.

According to a study by Atomik Research, a majority of mobile developers, accounting for over half, incorporate live services into their games. However, the report reveals a concerning trend, as 38% of these developers do not consistently release regular content or updates for their games. This inconsistency in maintaining engagement through updates poses a challenge for sustaining player interest over the long term.

Furthermore, the study sheds light on the frequency of updates, indicating that less than half of developers release monthly updates for their mobile games. Additionally, only a mere 5% of games continue to receive extended support seven years after their initial launch. This finding underscores a potential gap in long-term commitment and support from developers, suggesting that a significant portion of mobile games may lack the ongoing attention needed to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of the gaming industry.

In the face of a staggering failure rate for new gaming ventures, a surprising 78% of developers express a preference for working on fresh projects. However, a significant obstacle revealed by the survey is the hesitancy of over a third of developers, who cite the “uncertainty in the industry” as a deterrent to creating new mobile game experiences. This apprehension points to a broader concern within the industry regarding the unpredictable nature of success and failure, prompting developers to approach new projects with caution.

Moreover, 30% of the surveyed developers express the belief that the current market conditions pose significant challenges, making it too tough to provide a reasonable chance for success. This sentiment highlights a perceived difficulty in navigating the competitive landscape of the mobile gaming industry. The combination of industry uncertainty and the perceived toughness of the market suggests a need for a more supportive and stable environment that encourages developers to take creative risks and contribute to the evolution of mobile gaming experiences.

The gaming industry is currently navigating turbulent waters, as revealed by a report indicating that two-thirds of mobile studios have recently undergone layoffs, downsizing, or budget cuts. This trend highlights the challenging environment faced by mobile-focused ventures, reflecting the industry’s volatility. Notably, 29% of developers have responded to these challenges by reducing their budget for user acquisition (UA), indicating a cautious approach to spending in the face of uncertainty.

SuperScale CEO and founder Ivan Trancik provides insight into the situation, emphasizing that the game industry is currently experiencing extremely volatile times. Trancik’s observation underscores the negative outcomes faced by mobile-focused ventures, signaling a need for strategic adaptation and resilience within the industry. The report sheds light on the broader economic challenges impacting mobile studios, prompting a reassessment of business strategies to navigate the unpredictable landscape of the gaming sector.

In the current challenging climate, Ivan Trancik points out that numerous mobile developers are struggling to sustain profitability. These difficulties stem from a combination of factors, including challenges posed by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, intense competition in a mature market, and broader macroeconomic conditions such as high inflation levels. Trancik highlights the multi-faceted nature of the obstacles faced by mobile developers, emphasizing the need for strategic adaptation in response to these industry-wide challenges.

Trancik views the “Good Games Don’t Die” whitepaper as a crucial wake-up call for the gaming industry. He suggests that the document should not only serve as a source of inspiration but also provide actionable data for developers and publishers alike. The aim is to empower stakeholders in the industry with valuable insights to maximize revenue for games, whether they are new releases or existing titles. This proactive approach encourages a collective effort to navigate and overcome the current challenges, fostering a more resilient and adaptable mobile gaming landscape.

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