The mobile gaming industry is no longer in its infancy. While the App Store and Google Play offered only a few hundred apps when they first launched, they now collectively host more than 1.5 million apps, with games being the most popular and largest app category.
Faced with this competitive landscape, mobile developers are now turning to new and innovative ways to rise above the competition. We’ve previously written about successful app developers’ incorporation of user acquisition, and the need to select a monetization model that will maximize their app’s potential for growth and success.
Another up and coming developer strategy is to partner with large publishers to bring their app to market more efficiently and effectively. Publishers such as Zynga, Disney, and Gameloft are able to leverage necessary resources such analytics and tracking knowledge, as well as marketing and advertising spend, that indie developers simply don’t have.
Through these “super publisher” partnerships, developers are able to leverage their expertise and relationships to take their apps to the next level. Such publishers have experience optimizing apps for monetization, investing in advertising networks, and localizing game mechanics for specific markets, which they can leverage to help the developer bring their game to market in a much more impactful way.
Super publisher agreements do come at a cost, however. Some sort of revenue sharing model is generally put in place, automatically decreasing each in-app purchase’s marginal impact on developer revenues. Such publisher-developer partnerships also do not guarantee app success, as they must still contend with the thousands of other available apps.
An excellent demonstration of a successful publisher-developer partnership was provided in a recent Gamasutra post, in which Henry Fong, CEO of Yodo1, a Beijing-based mobile game publisher, discussed Yodo1's partnership with the Australian-based developer Defiant Development. Defiant wanted to bring its “Ski Safari” game to the Chinese market with localized customization, and leveraged Yodo1’s expertise and network within the Chinese market to integrate Chinese cultural references such as traditional Chinese costumes and music into the game, while simultaneously optimizing in-app purchases. Yodo1 and Defiant's partnership resulted in greater penetration and monetization in the Chinese market, with Ski Safari’s daily downloads now averaging 250K!
For developers looking to leverage industry knowledge and marketing spend, these types of partnerships represent an alternative to the bootstrapping or VC funding models. Instead of risking their own money or equity, developers can leverage publishers’ resources to maximize their game’s chance of success.
For publishers, partnering with developers to bring games to market represents a new way to expand their portfolios. Indie developers continuously innovate, prototyping and developing ideas at a rapid pace; by working with them, publishers can diversify their game portfolio while opening up a new source of revenue.
As the app market continues to grow and become increasingly competitive, we predict the continued use of developer and super publisher partnerships as an effective go-to-market strategy. What do you think is the best strategy for app developer success in the mobile marketplace?