No doubt online games like Angry Birds and Farmville have been a golden goose for its makers but what is next? People have enjoyed those games but now they want something edgier than slingshots. Some companies like EA games, Zynga, Kongregate and UBI interactive have understood this and started to work in that direction while other naïve ones still believe that simple games will always attract huge fans. UBI interactive, for instance is using 3-D multitouch technology that enables any surface like a coffee table or a window into a digital game of Angry Birds. Users, having a Microsoft Kinect would very soon be able to enjoy this game.
There are other challenges.
- Mobile gaming is on the rise. But everything about Mobile is fragmented. It is believed that mobile games spread more than word of mouth offline than online. Mobile experience is like that of a desktop for an end user as the user starts by looking at his desktop and not at a search bar or an app store. This makes the mobile experience highly decentralized as there are many applications which a user sees on his desktop.
- Secondly, there is a shift from paid games to free online gaming or the free-to-play model. People are not willing to pay for online games as much as they were before. Instead, they look for free games. Free-to-play, social and mobile games have exploded in popularity in the last year. As a result, almost all the gaming companies have faced losses during that year.
- Thirdly, people are spending less time on online games than they used to. Despite all the new categories that have been built over the past two years like social, mobile phone and tablet gaming the total time being spend on videogames is less than what it was a couple of years ago.
- Fourthly, small and medium companies can see a storm coming as big companies like Amazon enter the online gaming arena and EA shifts its famous multi-player online game, Star Wars: The Old Republic to a free-to-play model.
It is indeed a time when companies need to think of what their strategy for the next 2-3 years would be and how can they increase engagement and monetize better. Instead of just targeting their old customers their goal should be to convince people who have never played games to play as it is social, it is easy and most importantly it is free. This will help in the growth of the market. Lastly, investment in technologies like HTML5 should be made as it offers major advantages to developers like creation of a single version of a game that can run across multiple platforms, including Facebook, the Web and mobile.