The Rapid Evolution of the Mobile Game Publisher
If carriers are the tracks of the mobile games industry, then publishers are the train that drives the industry forward. However, the recent influx of big name companies onto the mobile scene (think EA and Microsoft), as well as the ever-fickle relationship between publishers and carriers, have put pure-play mobile-only game companies in a bit of a ‘kill or be killed’ position. With that in mind, we were eager to sit in and hear about what exactly The Rapid Evolution of the Mobile Game Publisher entails.
Moderator: Steve Palley, Lead Analyst, Focimobile
- Kyu Lee, President, GAMEVIL USA, Inc.
- Jill Braff, GM North America & SVP Worldwide Marketing, Glu Mobile
- Julian Corbett, Vice President of Business Development and Brand Partnerships, In-Fusio
- Anders Evju, General Manager, North America, I-Play
- John Griener, President and CEO, Hudson
One of the biggest issues mobile game publishers face today is that of marketing. Most mobile games are not marketed in a traditional sense (neither print ads in magazines or even banner ads in some cases) and instead rely upon the whim of the carriers to decide their fate. However, as John Griener of Hudson noted, carriers have not historically been too liberal with their purse strings in game marketing and a game’s sales are often determined solely by deck placement, so the question of traditional marketing has once again risen to the forefront.
Not surprisingly, the panel was mixed on the proper course of action. While Griener recognized that itï¿½s time for publishers to step up and market their own games, he was cautious about adopting traditional marketing techniques in the mobile space, saying that it was difficult for publishers to make the connection between someone seeing an advertisement on a website and then choosing to download that game on their phone. Griener recommended premium SMS and on-deck advertisements (good luck convincing the carriers of that, John) as more palatable alternatives.
Jill Braff, the North American GM of Glu Mobile (as well as their SVP of Worldwide Marketing - when does this girl sleep?), countered Griener’s sentiments, stating that her company has started to see positive results from traditional marketing. Anders Evju of I-Play agreed with Braff, saying that marketing directly to customers through IGN and Gamespot is working because mobile phone users are starting to realize that they can get games on their phone. Anders - one major caveat, however, is that most of I-Play’s marketing muscle comes from major IP owners like FOX during the marketing of licensed games like Ice Age; in situations like this, I-Play acts as more of a program director than actual marketer.
All of this is well and good for the latest licensed pap thatï¿½s an industry staple, but what about original mobile IPs? Will we continue to see few of these because licensed games are the only ones that can be effectively marketed? Braff was quick to respond to our journalistic sass by offering up Glu’s own Super K.O. Boxing as an example of an original IP with a full marketing push. She later said, ï¿½The days of just putting a game out there and hoping it sells well are over. You just have to pick the right title and drive it.