Mobile Gaming - The New El Dorado?

Mark Stephens

El Dorado – the “Lost City of Gold” - eluded the conquistadors and everybody since; many people seem to be searching mobile gaming in the belief that it may actually reside within the sleek confines of an iPad or on a Facebook Wall! What are we talking about you ask? We’re referring to the developers and businesses flocking to mobile gaming because of the opportunities of making a mint quickly.


Want To Make A Mint? We’re Game!

It used to be the case that the bright young minds graduating from the top Universities or Business Schools would head into the financial markets, allured by the big bucks – well, we know how that seems to be ending up!

Seems like the mobile games arena is right “up there” in attracting graduates, according to recent reports – and it’s not because these guys are geeks or even particularly love gaming; it’s because there are chances to be the next millionaire in joining start-ups that aim to be the next Zynga.

While the clouds gather over the worldwide economy in general and employment opportunities in many industries seem bleak, one in five gaming companies are hiring aggressively.

Investors are equally as keen to jump aboard. The Wall Street Journal reported that “in the first three quarters of 2011, venture capital firms have put $1.33 billion into gaming, more than double the $589 million in all of 2010.”

Recent research in the UK claimed that the mobile gaming market would be worth $1.6 billion by 2015.

Now when you get that type of money thrown at an industry you know there is potential there.

The Zynga Social Media Example

Zynga is often held up as the most recent shining light of start-ups that made it big quickly in the gaming market – with good reason; they have 230 million monthly players and their IPO could reach $20 billion according to some, so they certainly are big…huge in fact…and have grown in line with Facebook’s growth, by providing social games that are simple but addictive.

The Mobile Market Is Up For Grabs

The mobile market is still rather fragmented though and no developers are really dominating; the trophy seems to be there for a company to burst through and take control of, by finding the right formula; but the pace at which devices and game tastes are progressing makes that winning formula more challenging for developers.

Everyone recognizes how huge the mobile gaming market is going to be but working out how to balance complexity of game with constraints of the devices and also monetizing the whole gig is a big challenge….and the title’s up for grabs!

Game Speed

It’s attractive to investors and developers alike that a game can be created, brought to market and updated very quickly nowadays.

The old console games would take a year to develop and then a follow up game might be released a year or two afterwards; mobile games might take a few months to develop and can be upgraded within days – especially important in a very immature market where tastes and needs are changing all the time.


We have mentioned this before, but monetizing the games presents other challenges as most of the games are free or very low cost; money is usually made from in-game purchases of virtual goods.

Game companies looking for new ways to monetize will release new virtual goods weekly and market them to their customers.

As time goes by there will undoubtedly be more mobile game marketing money flooding in to the bigger games too, as advertisers see the opportunities.

El Dorado?

Well maybe that particular secret may stay hidden for a few more centuries but that’s not stopping people look. Most game development companies will probably fall by the wayside or get gobbled up by the big boys when the going gets really competitive. But it sure is fun to be in the race!