The message from the old-guard on the first day of GamesBeat 2011 was change, with no one clear perspective on how and when that change might occur.
The second day, however, had a clear focus and an altogether more optimistic tone. Dominated by prime movers in the mobile and social markets, the speakers placed emphasis on how to sustain growth and build upon their swift success.
A recurring theme was the spread of best practices from social gaming, with both Kontagent and Applifier announcing the expansion of their existing services into the mobile sector.
Applifier launched in 2010 with the promise of making it easier for players to find new games on Facebook. The service took the form of an on-screen bar that advertised other applications, allowing the user to seamlessly transition into a new game with a single click. Applifier has generated over 100 million installations from a network of 800 games, and now has more than 150 million MAUs.
CEO Jussi Laakkonen told VentureBeat that the company is launching a similar discovery bar for mobile devices. The bar operates from high-visibility positions like the main screen of a game, and will provide the user with information on recommended alternatives through simple tap and slide gestures.
Our value proposition for the players is simple. 'Hey, you like games. How about some more?'Jussi Laakkonen, CEO, Applifier
Laakkonen hopes that the bar - which offers no incentives to the user - will offer a solution to every mobile developer's greatest problem: making their products visible to the consumer without relying on coverage from the App Store.
Applifier launched yesterday on iOS devices, with support for Android scheduled to begin in Q3.
"Our value proposition for the players is simple," Laakkonen said. "Hey, you like games. How about some more?"
Kontagent is taking the same approach with its analytics tools. The San Francisco based company now tracks 100 million social network users for its various clients, processing around 10,000 social events - from buying goods to levelling-up - every second. This sort of data is now regarded as the driving force behind the entire social games market.
The next step is mobile apps. Collecting data for player behaviour on social networks is relatively simple, because users are connected to the internet at all times. That isn't the case with mobile devices, so the company has developed algorithms specifically for the task of interpereting information after the event.
"We can track how long they were in the application, if they started playing on Monday or if they came back and played on Tuesday," said CEO Jeff Tseng. "As long as you're dealing with out-of-order processing you can provide the same metrics."
However, the Dutch publisher Spil Games raised the question of whether apps will play a role in the future of mobile social gaming at all.
Spil has a network of online and mobile games, developed both internally and with third-parties, that attract 130 million unique visitors a month, but its CEO Peter Driessen claimed that social gaming on mobile devices will migrate away from native apps developed for specific hardware, and towards browsers, which allow users to sustain their experience across different platforms.
Spil is currently introducing the sort of social features typically found in PC games to its browser games, and Driessen believes that HTML 5 will allow browser-based experiences to offer similar performance to native applications. It will also give developers the ability to create a single version of their game for multiple devices, and make modifications without the approval of a parent company like Apple.