I recently heard about a game studio that rouse to fame with a successful game and then went out of business almost as fast as they had become famous. What is this company you may ask? Ever heard about Zynga? There you have it.
Now to be honest, Zynga haven’t gone out of business, yet. But according to 24/7 Wall St.  there is a great chance the future of Zynga is going to be just that. It’s in many ways sad to see the once so promising company behind Farmville now is plummeting straight to the bottom. According to 24/7 Wall St. writer Jon C. Ogg this can be contributed to that Zynga “suffers from a lack of visibility on the company’s product pipeline” . As a result this has caused increasing worries of potential investors.
Don’t get me wrong, this is after all speculations and Zynga still have quite a huge customer base. But they’re also making loses of $61 million in the first quarter of 2014 . Not a very sustainable financial development if you ask me.
So what does this have to do with anything? First of all, my buzzword of the day: pipeline. Second of all, mobile games.
Wait, what? Please explain. I will. To start with, a transparent product pipeline is not very common among today’s big companies. That applies to game studios as well. This is no way a reason to be unnecessarily cautious on your part as a game consumer (or wherever you stand in this matter). Quite contrary, it can be really pleasant to turn on your computer at the start of the day only to to find your favorite game developer announcing the near release of a new game title of theirs. But there comes a time when customers don’t want to wait for the announcement of another title from that same company and rather find themselves heading out into the wildness of the gaming market of today. Not necessarily meaning the company just lost another customer or two, but they definitely didn’t put a lot of effort in to keeping them either.
What that in turn leads to is even more potential customers not returning to test out any future games the company may have in store. For big companies this is probably not that big of an issue, since their customer bases are so great that enough gamers will try out any games they put on the market anyway. And with that, attract people back to the companies’ games.
However, smaller companies might suffer great losses due to a lack of vision of their pipeline. At the very least, any investor surely wants to know what the future of the company might look like before pushing any money into their business. Is this what has happened to Zynga? Might be. In the end I think what is important to remember is not to underestimate the power of the customers. Letting them, and anyone else for that matter, have a little glimpse at the pipeline is probably going to do more good than anything else. With that said, let’s move on the second point, mobile games.
Do you remember when the mobile game library consisted of those that the mobile phone manufacturers included in their phones? It’s no more than 14 years ago when Nokia released perhaps their greatest success Nokia 3310 that included a total of four games. One of these was Snake II, a game that most people over the age of 20 have played at least once in their life. Now consider the developers of that game have had the possibility of selling their game directly on an online app store. It’s easy to think they missed out on some pretty big money. Or maybe they didn’t. After all, would their game ever have been heard of if it wasn’t for the Nokia 3310. Quite frankly, it’s not easy to know.
What I want to get across with this is the still so utterly important role of mobile games for today’s game making businesses. Rather than putting all effort on making a good game developers have to realize the importance of pushing their games to the mobile market. However, a friend of mine quite recently said he couldn’t believe the low quality of mobile games: “There’s not a single game on the market that I want to play”. He has a good point. Many mobile games are published in an often embarrassingly poor shape, just to keep customers occupied and make another easy quid on their pure enthusiasm for the platform. A shame, I have to say.
So, what do I propose? Make good games and make them available for your mobile users. It’s that simple really. It does require an extra effort, but in the end aren’t good games really what all of us in the gaming world want? Just think about it, would you like to end up as another Zynga, moving slowly into to mobile games and when you eventually do releasing something that lacks most of what is required of a good game ?
I hope I could share some lights on these rather important subjects for anyone interested enough to read through all of this. And I will provide greater views on our own pipeline here at Aware Games in the near future, though we have been doing anything but that so far. And yes, we will make things mobile. I promise.