The bass and drums are as loud as ever, but the mood music has changed at Gamescom, Europe’s biggest gaming fair, as developers whose bedrock business has targeted console gamers play catch-up with the mass mobile market.
Smartphones such asApple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy as well as tablets have revolutionised not only the mobile world but the gaming universe.
“Ten years ago, we used to measure our market in terms of 200m people. Now we are at a billion people playing games and we have a straight line view on 2bn,” said Frank Gibeau, head of labels at Electronic Arts.
In Europe, 36% of €11.3bn spent on games last year came from mobile and digital channels, IHS Screen Digest data shows.
Investors are beginning to ask how traditional games distributors will cope with the competition.
Since the introduction of so-called free-to-play games on personal computers, smartphones and tablets, the ground is changing beneath the feet of traditional makers. Customers can get to know games without spending money, and only if they try it and like it do they have to start paying.
The new model could also work to the benefit of developers. Instead of spending millions upfront, they only need to build a very small portion of the game, test it with real gamers and learn what they like and don’t like. “We like this new model,” EA’s Frank Gibeau added. “It’s a lot more like a life operation that you continuously build. It’s a lot more like a service.”
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