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Research: How mobile players find new games to play
Research: How mobile players find new games to play Exclusive
October 1, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

October 1, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing, Exclusive

Discoverability has always been a major challenge on mobile platforms. With so many apps on the market, it can be tough to make your game stand out from the crowd. But what's the best way to do that? How are mobile game players finding games?

According to research from analytics firm EEDAR (in data given exclusively to Gamasutra), players frequently discover games via word of mouth alone. The firm reports that word of mouth (including social networks) accounts for more than half of all mobile app discovery -- that's far more significant than it is in the HD game market, where word of mouth accounts for a mere 25 percent of discovery.

Given how powerful word of mouth can be on mobile, developers should be doing everything in their power to ensure players are talking about their latest games. The real trick is getting the conversation started, and it seems the best way to break the ice is to appeal to your most loyal and enthusiastic fans.

Looking at the mobile market at large, EEDAR reports that high-spending "whales" often serve as the catalyst for a strong word of mouth or viral discovery campaign. These are the players who are spending more than $25 per month on mobile games, and if your title can make them happy, these mobile game evangelists are almost certain to tell their friends.

Of course, there are numerous other ways to help players discover your games, but the more traditional discoverability techniques just don't seem to be as effective on mobile as they are on other platforms. Paid advertising, for instance, currently accounts for 50 percent of discovery for HD games, though EEDAR says it's one of the least prominent discovery mechanisms on mobile platforms.

The firm's consumer survey data suggests that traditional advertisements just don't have much influence on mobile, and companies looking to invest in these ads might want to think twice, as there's no guarantee that you'll attract enough players to justify the steep cost.

Instead, mobile developers might be better off focusing most of their efforts on getting players excited and making them talk. Not only is it cheaper than paying for ads, it also allows developers to focus their resources on doing what they do best making good games.

[Image credit: EEDAR]

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Joe McGinn
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Not the slightest bit surprised, but good to have the information, thanks for the article.

Andrew Wallace
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Well I suppose it's nice for a research company to finally say what you've been saying for years.

Steve Fulton
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If I only had 10,000 friends...

Laura Stewart
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One of the functions of FB games is that you have to "friend" a large # of allies and exchange gifts to be competitive. So it's unsurprising how often people pick up games from that network. Working out how console single-player RPGs might replicate that effect would be interesting (using facebook).

Saul Gonzalez
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Advertising not having much of an effect on mobile may be a large factor on why Zynga hasn't managed to break that market.