Smartphone Games Summit 2010: View From The Top

The Smartphone Games Summit kicked off with an overall view of the smartphone gaming industry. We were joined by some of the top developers, specifically: Chris Williams from Playfirst, Brian Morrisroe of Booyah, Jason Oberfest of ngmoco, Andrew Stein of PopCap. The panel was led and moderated by Tim Chang of Norwest Venture Partners.Overall all participants are very excited about the emergence of smartphone platforms but do see challenges ahead with issues like cross-platform gaming, technical requirements/restrictions and technologies. More after the jump.

How does Smartphone Gaming differ from Mobile Gaming?

– ease of updating apps, very different experience for consumer, apps as a service

– Diner Dash was 9.99 – sat there quite unupdated – but the service model is much more about updating with new content and features specific for each smartphone. Frequent updating requires a sep. team.

What does it mean for design of your team?

– Much about mindset as much numbers. Web style, iterative data-driven style

– Designers can quickly get a game into market and see what users like or don’t like and iterate on the fly.

Are you guys shifting to freemium? What are pros and cons?

– Key inflection point was OS 3.1. “10x and more diff in audience size when the game is free, ” – Jason Oberfest

– You have to build reasons for users to want to purchase goods – and that can be tricky to do.

– A solid brand recognition allows games to charge an up-front pricing as well as microtransactions. Using both a lite version and paid version of Diner Dash

– Booyah’s approach to bridge virtual and reality will open various business models

A number of games rocketed up. What have been your guys’ strategy for getting games up there?

– Cross promotion is fantastically wonderful. The ability to point them towards another app,typically within the same franchise is strong.

“More than half the user base come every to our games.” – Jason Oberfest

“We have brought established brands to the AppStore that people search for. Cross promotions from within a game does drive a lot of traffic. Cost per conversion was too high to buy traffic” – PopCap

Will HTML5 take off?

– frame rates per second and such isn’t supported properly for mobile users.

Jason Oberfest was excited about the emergence of Android and their differentiating features will allow ngmoco to build interesting experiences for its users. Chris felt that adding random features is not a good strategy – and you have to add very specific features that add to the core gameplay. Andrew stated that PopCap is excited about the emergence of smartphone games in general but they are only focusing on iOS, Android, and Windows 7. Others, ngmoco, Booyah and Playfirst specifically, are focusing mostly on iOS currently and looking to Android next.

Within 3 yrs will HTML5 browsers become really well integrated?

– Flash lite content is most disposable

What sort of games are you looking to release?

– most developers interested in mobile for brand extensions

– Engagement and revenue are directly correlated for ngmoco because of iTunes frictionless. Monetization per active user is much higher and can beattributed to good viral loops, good game design and as you see smartphone games gain users – it should be as large as some of the existing platforms