What does it take to launch a hit mobile gaming app?

The pace of growth in the mobile gaming industry is exponential and it’s an exciting world for indie developers to be a part of, but it can also be a cut-throat one. The rapid expansion of the mobile app economy means that there have never been more apps on the market, with over 3 million on the Apple App Store alone and 6 of the top 10 selling apps being created in Europe. Within Europe, the mobile gaming industry has generated over €20 billion from consumer sales, so if you can get your gaming app off the ground, there’s serious profit to be made.  Research by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe expects double-digit annual growth in the mobile gaming industry to continue until 2017.

Launching a successful mobile gaming app takes time and effort and like any pursuit, needs to be driven by sheer determination and commitment. The growth in the market means that there are several factors that need to be considered right from the initial conception of your idea. In the early days of mobile gaming apps, the ingredients needed were fewer and less was needed for your app to gain traction in the industry. In the current climate, having a good idea and managing to translate it into a decent app is rarely sufficient enough on its own to create success. The industry has now reached a hyper-competitive moment and therefore there needs to be a more well-rounded approach to mobile gaming app development.

A mobile gaming app idea not only needs to be something new, but it needs to be executed well. The emphasis on UX (user experience) has meant that consumers are expecting a more and more sophisticated interface. Advice to fledging indie developers would be to create a simple, original idea and perform it well making it a minimum-viable-product.  Running before you can walk means that you might create an app which is full of bugs and will need numerous moderations and patches to rectify this. If your app goes to market when it’s full of bugs then consumers will give your app poor ratings, which can stall the success of your app from the get-go. The key is to be realistic about your abilities and what you can achieve as a developer; look at your budget and be pragmatic about the type and scale of the game that you’ll be able to create. If your budget isn’t big then keep it simple but execute it well.

Creating a mobile gaming app can be costly if you want a strong chance of success. You app needs to be compatible with several different devices and change over time to accommodate new advances. Gaming apps can be one of the most difficult apps to produce because of their technical complexity. Depending on the complexity of your game, an app can cost anything between £10,000 – £250,000 to develop, but it’s difficult to estimate how much your game will cost. A simple answer would be that a game can cost however much you’re willing to spend, as there are always improvements to be made and ways to make it more functional. A small 2D mobile gaming app could cost around £10,000 to create, but larger games such as Clash of Clans would be upwards of £250,000. Coding is expensive, especially if you want make your game more sophisticated and have leader boards and online communities attached.

Another important consideration when you’re developing your app is that the marketing behind it can be just as integral to your success as the game itself.  Having a coherent marketing strategy is crucial because if no-one knows about your game then the hard work behind it goes unnoticed. Having a strong social media presence is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to market your product with relatively little overhead costs, but you can also look into up-selling and cross-selling your gaming app through other similar games. Setting aside a marketing budget is highly recommended.