Changes in the industry

Creative work: David Price working on Rugby Nations 2011.    Picture: Barry Richardson
Creative work: David Price working on Rugby Nations 2011. Picture: Barry Richardson
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Get ready for ‘Gameification’ and ‘Freemium’ software – two new buzzwords that are becoming common currency in the mobile games development industry.

Gameification involves adding game-style risk and reward features to something that isn’t a game – offering rewards, for example, for using an online service.

“You could argue that Facebook has a gaming element,” says Nigel Little. “People try to build up a big friends list and see who has got the most.”

Gameification also involves developing games based on the plots and characters in books or films.

“Publishers are looking to see if the people who buy their books are interested in buying games,” says Nigel.

“We have worked with Transworld and Random House, taking their properties, the books they publish, and ‘translating’ them into games.

“Development costs for console games are astronomical. Developing games for Smartphones is a lot easier and more accessible to a publisher. It’s a kind of proving ground. You can try an idea, it doesn’t cost a lot of money and it raises awareness of their properties.”

When it comes to making money out of games there are a number of routes companies like Distinctive Developments can take, depending on the game and the potential audience.

They can give games away, but incorporate advertising into them, which brings in some money.

You can make a small charge – say around 60p – and bank on millions of people downloading the game – a good strategy for games aimed at pre-teens and teens, who tend to be hugely price sensitive.

Or you can target an older market, with more disposable income – as Distinctive does with its Smartphone rugby and ice hockey games – and charge maybe £5.

Then there are the ‘Freemium’ games.

“If you have got a paid for game, people are going to buy it or not buy it. With a Freemium game they can try before they buy and see whether they like it. You can build up a huge audience for a small price,” says Nigel.

Freemium games, like Distinctive’s Football Kicks free kick game, include extra features, like the ability to customise a player to appear in your team’s strip, that can be unlocked by bulding up points – known as “game currency” or for a small payment.

“You either have to be willing to spend time to build up game currency or you can buy game currency with real money – we have had 5.3 million downloads of that game for the iPhone alone,” adds Nigel.