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Unity: Why game development is like mountain climbing

Todd Hooper explains why data is crucial to mobile gaming success, and Unity's plans to help

Today Unity's VP of online services compared mobile games development to mountain climbing and explained what a crucial difference data can make to successful monetization strategies.

"Game development is a little bit like mountain climbing," Todd Hooper told the Game Monetization USA Summit.

"You have all these fantastically talented developers, they pour all of their talent and passion into creating a game... they've ascended the peak of the first mountain. They get to the peak of that mountain and what do they find? Another mountain behind it.

"[That mountain] is all about monetization, analytics, data, user acquisition and actually a lot of these skills are not naturally what go along with game development; a lot of them are more business orientated skills. It's a market that has changed so rapidly from even ten years ago. Ten years ago your publisher would have tackled that second mountain."

Hooper called it a tragedy that developers with a great game but no analytic skills could see their product fail, and said Unity was working on an analytics plug-in that would automatically collect data for them. Developers could also choose to opt-in and share and see anonymized data from other games to see how their retention and monetization and revenue compared to the direct competition.

Unity's commitment to analytics isn't breaking news but some of the data that Hooper shared was an interesting snapshot of the changing mobile market.

The churn rates at which gamers give on up mobile titles were particularly brutal. Of iOS players who downloaded a game on day one 89 percent would have stopped playing by day 30. On Android that number rose to 97 percent.

"It's a very, very challenging environment," commented Hooper.

He added that the standard method of looking at day one and day seven retention for mobile games was still a valid metric in the US thanks to a seven to nine day average churn rate. In territories like Russia, South America or Asia that window was much smaller.

"You can forget about day seven churn, people are churning in two to three days."

He also revealed that from their data men were the bigger spenders on mobile titles, spending on average $4.99 compared to women's $3.13. He put this down to mobile games currently being targeted more at men, and cited Clash Of Clans.

Unity acquired Playnomics in April and is currently at work on its own analytics package.

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Rachel Weber avatar
Rachel Weber: Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.
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