· 8 min read
9 Areas You Should Focus Your Mobile Game Development in 2024
What exactly should you be focusing on this year? What are the trends that will really impact your development? We’ve dug through the most popular trends and brought together the topics you should keep an eye on in 2024.
1. Learn about AI and Machine Learning
With the release of Google’s Gemini, we’re seeing AI continue to explode. It won’t be long before it’s a common tool that we all use day to day. Getting to grips with how it works is going to be essential, particularly in gaming.
At the same time, we’re seeing hyper-casual games shift to richer and deeper experiences – becoming hybrid-casual. In fact, the number of hyper-casual games dropped by 18%, while hybrid-casual grew by 13%, according to Sensor Tower.
By their nature, hybrid-casual games have a longer development cycle than hyper-casual games. Using AI and machine learning can really speed up this process. You can get the rich, deep experience necessary in a similar amount of time.
AI can help in multiple areas
- Speeding up your development process isn’t just about getting AI to help you code your game. You can use it throughout the cycle:
- Ideation. Get AI to help you come up with ideas and ask it to pull out common trends in mobile gaming.
- Creation. You can generate assets, like 3D models or soundtracks, or use it to create mood boards for your in-house artists.
- Dynamic content. AI can make your NPCs more realistic by automatically responding to the player. This way, you don’t need to write thousands of lines of dialogue to add characters to your game.
- Experimentation. A machine learning algorithm can run through your game thousands of times in a few days. So you can test your gameplay, challenges and ad placements to make sure that they’re perfect.
The more data you have, the more efficient your AI model will become. Data fuels the algorithm. The best way to improve your machine learning and AI models is to feed them more data and let them run.
If you need to collect vast amounts of data from multiple sources, look at our DataSuite package. With that, you can bring all your data together to perfect your monetization models and gameplay.
2. Consider a brand partnership
Newzoo states, “To win the hearts of gaming fans, brands will move toward IP crossovers, social media and streamer partnerships.”
We’ve already seen this happening. Fortnite has partnered with brands like Gucci, Marvel, and Netflix. Roblox has partnered with Spotify and Samsung. Overwatch even partnered with McDonalds.
Clearly, brands are looking to tap into the gaming market. It could be cosmetics in your game, in-game billboards that function as product placement, or even entire DLCs.
These partnerships can be a useful alternative to traditional ad models. You can get a new source of income for your title, attract new players, and keep your game fresh.
In fact, on average, IP or brand collaborations boost a game’s Daily Active Users (DAU) by 11% in the first seven days of a launch.
3. Explore augmented and virtual reality
Back in June, Apple announced its Vision Pro headset. Rumours are flying that it’ll launch in early 2024. However, Apple isn’t the only one entering this space – there are plenty of other brands hot at their heels. It’s a revolution in technology to rival the advent of the smartphone, with analysts predicting that there’ll be 6.9 billion AR and VR users by 2028, growing to about $58 billion. Meanwhile, the Augmented Reality Gaming Market Report believes AR alone will grow around 30% year on year.
Whichever way you look at it, the market is set to explode. Not only with players, but with brands. Companies are looking to partner with studios to create experiences for their customers that offer them more value.
4. Pump more resources into your Live Ops
As we said before, hyper-casual games are dropping in downloads by 18% each year, while hybrid-casual games are growing by 13%. There’s a marked shift in the industry to move to deeper games, which offer more value to players and increase playtime and engagement.
Live Ops has become the standard way to monetize your game in this new era of mobile gaming. Over 90% of the world’s top games are supporting their titles using this approach. On top of that, 97% of revenue from the top games come from this strategy.
This means that developers need to keep providing support and updates for their games, long after they’ve launched. It’s about building a community, releasing regular content, and keeping your core players engaged and happy.
If you want to make sure that your Live Ops are pulling their weight, it’s useful to run tests and gather data on what’s working. We can help by letting you run AB tests, giving real-time data, and adjusting gameplay parameters on the fly. Check out our Live Ops page for more details.
5. Consider making a web store
In December 2023, a jury decided that Google had an illegal monopoly with its Play Store. It’s yet another example of how lawmakers and judges are attempting to loosen the hold that platforms have over the stores they run.
Right now, Google and Apple alike take a hefty commission from every purchase made through their stores. And they are quite restrictive on what is and isn’t allowed. Recent legislation, like the Digital Markets Act in the EU, has forced these gatekeepers to allow developers to push people towards their own web stores, cutting out these fees.
This is particularly important, considering how difficult it is to acquire new users. Casual games are hit hard by these fees, considering how little they earn from each download.
By creating your own web store, you skip the commission and can encourage players to stick to your own ecosystem of games. You can even offer VIP bonuses for loyal players who use your own store. This compliments the natural shift we’re seeing towards more hybrid-casual games, giving publishers and developers an opportunity to create deeper experiences and relationships with their players.
6. Explore more non-disruptive advertising routes
As the mobile gaming industry shifts towards hybrid-casual, it’s important to focus on keeping players for longer. It’s all about retention. One of the top reasons that players abandon a game is if there are too many ads that interrupt the gameplay. It ruins the fun. Instead, developers need to focus on other forms of advertising to supplement their revenue streams, such as:
- Rewarded ads. People actually find rewarded ads enhance their experience. According to Google Admob, 50% of players said they’d be less satisfied if the developer removed the rewarded ads.
- Native advertising. By partnering with brands and putting ads as an element in the game, such as on in-game billboards – you not only have a familiar, unintrusive spot for ads, but one that can actually make your game more immersive.
- Audio ads. Audio can play in the background, while people continue playing. They don’t disrupt the gameplay. Done well, they can have up to 39% better retention compared to video ads, according to a YouGov study.
7. Let players collect characters
There’s a reason games like Pokemon are so popular. People quite simply love to collect and hoard things. This is why character collection is one of the most popular meta features among the top games.
Allowing your players to collect characters opens up multiple possibilities. They can be in-app purchases, part of your battle pass or VIP subscription service, or even a rewarded ad. Monetizing this collection is a great way to make sure that you’re adding value for your players and giving them incentives to stay.
8. Think about going into the action genre
In 2023, action was the only genre that grew in both revenue (9%) and downloads (13%). These are games that are more high-octane and exciting than your typical hyper-casual genre, and borrow from the rogue-like genre. Games like Survivor.io that throw hordes of enemies at you while you level up your gear.
If you’re not keen on making an action title, it’s worth considering simulation games instead. These have now overtaken the puzzle genre – pinching their number three slot.
9. Be data-driven
Whether you’re creating your own web store, using AI in your development, or looking at non-disruptive advertising routes, data will be central to your strategy. With GameAnalytics, you can get cost-effective, sophisticated and in-depth data that can help inform your decisions and make sure you’re setting yourself on the right path for 2024.