The emergence of digital platforms, especially in the mobile space, has led to plenty of new opportunities for developers, but success is hardly guaranteed. While it's true that digital now allows developers to essentially self-publish if they desire, the problem of games discovery remains. It's not easy to get noticed on Apple's App Store. EEDAR's Jesse Divnich recently spoke to GamesIndustry International about this all-too-common problem developers face.
"App discovery shouldn't fall on the shoulders of developers, nor should it fall on Apple," Divnich believes.
"For the last two years, I've observed developers rejoice over de-shackling from publishers, yet as these emerging markets become more established and crowded, we are witnessing many of our industry's top developers failing to get the discoverability and market awareness they justly deserve," he said.
"The fact remains, becoming successful in the app market still is a shot in the dark"Jesse Divnich
"Discovery is simply an analogue for marketing, which has traditionally been one of the key roles and reasons for partnering with a publisher and it would be an erroneous suggestion to imply that the burdens of marketing now shift entirely to the developer-although I do agree that developers must have a say in the messaging process," Divnich continued.
With EA Mobile and other big publishers (like Activision) offering their services in the space, it might be wise for a developer with little marketing knowledge to leverage a publisher's expertise.
"I do believe that the absence of publishers in the digital environment is significantly impeding developer's success," Divnich remarked. "We have seen various ad networks and 'pay-for-install' programs form in an attempt to solve the discovery issue; this has only led to the rise in the cost of consumer acquisition, creating an even pricier barrier for independent developers. It really is an inefficient form of marketing; unfortunately it remains one of the few discovery tools developers can access."
Ultimately, the marketing for mobile games must happen outside of mobile as well. Surely, a publisher can help with that.
"The discovery of video game apps needs to move beyond the portable screen, a concept that is widely understood in all other forms of entertainment. It would be like a blockbuster movie only using theatre previews to gain discoverability," Divnich noted.
"There should be a happy medium between developers, publishers, and distributors, one that I know many are trying to solve, but I have yet to come across one publicly that has fitted all the pieces together to create a true win-win-win scenario."
"The fact remains, becoming successful in the app market still is a shot in the dark, a large ineffective marketing money pit that shrinks profitability," Divnich concluded, adding that's why we're seeing an "over reliance on the distribution network to become 'featured'."