Casual Connect SF: A Year in Gaming Reviewed

This year’s Casual Connect chose a new location in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square where industry leading app publishers and developers from around the world gathered to talk about all things mobile, gaming and social. One of the key tracks was focused on mobile: from operations to production and design.

The CEO of AppAnnie, Bertrand Schmitt, gave an excellent presentation on how to successfully go-to-market as an app developer in today’s global marketplace. Reflecting back on 2012 as a benchmark for the best markets and platforms for 2013, Schmitt uncovered some key trends of the year. Gaming took the lead across both iOS and Android as the biggest app category. Games on iOS earn nearly 2X the revenue of those on Android, and are the leading platform for monetization. The in-app purchase model is still dominating for games with nearly 95% leveraging the IAP model.

When looking at where to launch first, Japan and the US take the lead across iOS and Google Play for the highest revenue generating markets. For iOS, China is a key market and must be approached from a highly localized distribution model. On Android, South Korea is the leading market thanks to the hometown hero Samsung. Combined US, Japan and Korea drove about 80% of Google Play gaming revenue. Schmitt suggested focusing on Asian markets for revenue since it’s host to the world’s biggest spenders in gaming.

Not ready to monetize your app, but rather focus on sheer growth? Believe it or not, Russia takes the lead on iOS downloads, Mexico and Thailand are now top markets on Android. This is a significant change from 2012, where the US, China and UK markets dominated in app downloads.

For device and app categories, about 30% of all iOS downloads were on the iPad, with the US driving nearly 40% of worldwide iPad game revenues. Top game categories for iOS downloads include action and arcade, with RPG generating the most revenue. On Google Play, the brain and puzzle categories were the top moneymakers.

This year was the biggest year yet in mobile gaming and that opened the door for many publishers to make a mark. The top grossing publishers of the year included Supercell and King on iOS with Chinese publisher GungHo China and Tiny Piece taking the lead on Android. 2013 was indeed the year of Candy Crush, helping King land the #3 spot in number of downloads for 2013. Gameloft took the #1 position thanks to the box office hit Despicable Me. It developed Minion Rush that catapulted them to the top in a matter of weeks, knocking EA, Tiny Piece and King to the remaining top four positions.

It’s remarkable how much can change in a year and the mobile gaming space shows just how young, and dynamic, the industry is. There is still plenty of room for growth on platforms, devices and countries. As the market continues to evolve and we see an increasing number of big game publishers and game titles, it’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top in the next 6-months. I’m curious to hear what’s been the most impactful moment for you in mobile gaming in the last year?

Topics: Events