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Game giants seek new growth strategies for mobile games


Mobile Gaming Evolution: How Developers Can Future-Proof Their Strategies

Over the last 15 years, mobile gaming has experienced significant growth in audience and revenue. Leading players in the industry have come together to discuss how this landscape continues to change. At the GamesBeat Summit 2023, Activision, Playtika, and Jam City leaders shared their insights on how to tackle forces, such as the rise of triple-A titles on mobile, new marketing challenges due to changing data privacy laws, and increasingly high consumer expectations. The question was, “How can mobile developers prepare now to future-proof their strategy for the next decade?”

Player Acquisition Costs are Rising

Privacy initiatives have changed in the app stores, and user acquisition has felt the impact. Developers need to consider new approaches and new ways to capture player attention. It requires a lot of organic energy and momentum right out of the gate, and that’s expensive.  SVP and Co-Head of Mobile at Activision, Chris Plummer said, “That also increases the friction for new entrants, with what it takes to actually unseat these very deeply entrenched leaders in our space…” To help stabilize a little bit of a downturn in the last couple of years, companies have invested in a lot of proprietary platforms and tooling to increase UA spends on the app platforms.  

The Challenges and Benefits of Outside IP

Using outside IP can help to ramp up user acquisition in games. EVP of Studio Operations at Jam City, Lisa Anderson, said, “Trying to leverage those opportunities of synergy, especially for the organic installs, is a huge benefit, especially if you have games that are tied to major IP and they’re running an event or there’s something major happening…”

If a company doesn’t have its own outside IP, it can develop a proprietary brand that players grow deeply connected to. According to Playtika’s COO, Shlomi Aizenberg, “What we learned over the past three, four years, is that we’re actually developing our own games to have an IP… What we discovered is that our players and the community around it are so emotionally connected to the game and to the characters and to the brand.

Targeting New Markets Around the World

Targeting new markets is one of the best ways to build an audience. Plummer said, “It’s less about what region is the hot new market — they’re targeting the places where they see deep engagement and great retention with their other brands, and leaning into them…”

Localization is key when targeting new markets. According to Anderson, “Great IP and great experiences always stand out, but a new market means an opportunity to ensure you’re culturizing a game in a way that allows players to really appreciate it in the way that they truly enjoy games, but without impacting the DNA of the game.”

Tapping Players and Creators as Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors are essential for success in every market. Anderson said, “We have pretty extensive, what we call insider groups, for all of our different major forever franchises, and we really leverage them in a way to be able to see new ideas, new features, new storylines that we’re thinking about…”

Players are also important brand ambassadors. According to Plummer, “The players are sometimes putting in full-time hours, and so their insights are invaluable…”

Does Generative AI have a Role in Mobile Game Development?

Generative AI has its place in mobile game development and can help to make games more efficient. According to Plummer, “So I welcome tools from the calculator to my smartphone and generative AI and any other kind of AI that is going to also provide tools over time that help us make better games…”


Mobile gaming has undergone substantial changes over the years, with more to come. Developers must adopt new approaches to maintain their audience and growth while handling new challenges. Targeting markets globally, using outside IP, and leveraging brand ambassadors are a few strategies to consider.


What are some of the challenges mobile game developers face?

Mobile game developers face many challenges, such as rising player acquisition costs, data privacy laws, and high consumer expectations.

How can developers acquire new players?

Developers can acquire new players through outside IP, proprietary branding, and targeting new markets worldwide. They can also leverage their players as brand ambassadors.

What is generative AI, and how does it benefit mobile game development?

Generative AI is a technology that game studios can use to create tools to improve the development of mobile games more efficiently, ultimately leading to better games.


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