Gamasutra關於2017年手遊產業發展的6大趨勢分析

原文作者:Jon Jordan 譯者:Megan Shieh

跟2015年暴雪斥資59億美元收購King工作室,或2016年《Pokemon GO》的成功比起來,2017年的手遊圈是顯得安靜了些。

但這也並不是說在這一年間什麼都沒有發生:

手遊電競逐步興起

許多開發商都十分看好“移動電子競技”的前景,相信它會發展成爲手遊行業中的主流之一。這其中也包括Super Evil Megacorp工作室,該工作室旗下的MOBA手遊《虛榮(Vainglory)》剛剛結束了2017年年底在新加坡舉行的電競冠軍賽,並宣佈將在2018年開放5V5對戰模式。

此外芬蘭開發商Critical Force宣佈,該公司旗下的射擊遊戲《關鍵行動(Critical Ops)》累計下載量突破了3000萬次,而電競投資人、《守望先鋒》職業戰隊的老闆Kevin Chou也加入了該公司的董事會。

雖然手遊電競無法與《守望先鋒》、《Dota 2》和《英雄聯盟》等PC電競相匹敵,但許多帶有常規PVP模式的手遊都把電競作爲其常規遊戲內活動中的一部分,比如《皇室戰爭》、《魔靈召喚》和《暗影之詩》。

除此之外,總收入已經超過20億美元的中國手遊《王者榮耀》也是一款擁有不計其數粉絲的手遊電競產品。

Switch的發佈緩解了任天堂在手遊領域的壓力

Switch的推出受到了廣大玩家的歡迎,這也爲任天堂減輕了其在手遊業務方面的壓力。

作爲2017年Googly Play排行榜上下載次數最多的新遊戲,《超級馬里奧跑酷》在安卓和iOS平臺上的累計下載量突破了2億次,可即便如此,它的營收業績仍被任天堂標榜爲不盡人意。相比之下,RPG《火焰之紋章》的表現要好得多,該作創造了超過1億美元的收入。其次,儘管《動物之森:口袋營地》在本國日本很受歡迎,但在西方市場卻默默無聞。

考慮到這種情況,任天堂2017財年的收入可能更多是來自《Pokemom Go》的IP授權業務,而不是該公司旗下的自制手遊。

Pokemon Go(from gamasutra)

Pokemon Go(from gamasutra)

規模較小、資金較少的併購交易和IPO

2017年間,雖然沒有出現過交易額超過10億美元的大型併購,但手遊領域也見證了不少規模較小的併購案和IPO。

澳大利亞賭場集團Aristocrat斥資5億美元收購了以色列開發商Plarium;Take-2以2.5億美元的價格收購了西班牙移動遊戲開發商Social Point;而韓國發行商Nexon則收購了美國工作室Pixelberry。

除了這些較爲“完整”的併購案例之外,還有一些其他例子。比如,Zynga斥資1億美元收購了Peak Games旗下的所有棋牌遊戲;而澳大利亞手遊發行商Animoca Brands則在調整產品研發重心的同時,將旗下數百款休閒遊戲分爲兩批售出。

去年規模最大的上市案要屬韓國出版商Netmarble,該公司通過首次公開募股籌集了逾20億美元資金,目前估值爲150億美元,這多半要歸功於《天堂2:重生》在韓國本土取得的巨大成功。

就估值而言,西方公司的市值要小得多,但Rovio(市值10億美元)和Next Games (2億美元)於2017年在芬蘭上市,而Mag Interactive (1.2億美元)和Nitro Games(1千萬美元)也在瑞典實現了上市。

《絕地求生》掀起的“吃雞手遊”熱潮

《絕地求生》在2017年給移動遊戲產業帶來了一定的影響,這種影響主要集中在中國市場,中國玩家對《絕地求生》的瘋狂熱愛導致該國的應用商店中充斥着各式各樣的“吃雞遊戲”。單單是網易公司就在2017年間發佈了5款“吃雞遊戲”,而騰訊公司則搶佔了手遊版《絕地求生》在中國的獨家代理運營權,隨後又宣佈將會發布另一款官方改編產品。

然而用手機觸摸屏玩射擊遊戲並不像PC或主機那麼方便,其次與傳統手遊相比,吃雞遊戲的會話長度存在劣勢,而且直至目前爲止也還沒有出現過一款真正成功的免費吃雞手遊。所以與其說是在滿足受衆需求,不如說這是網易和騰訊爭奪中國市場份額的又一次競爭。

“中核遊戲”的地位逐漸被取代

2017年間,各大App Store排行榜上的排位發生了翻天覆地的變化,潘多拉(Pandora)、Netflix和Tinder等非遊戲訂閱應用取代了《部落衝突》和《戰爭遊戲》等中核遊戲產品的排位,而新一代休閒遊戲的興起(尤其是女性向的休閒遊戲)也加強了對中核遊戲的衝擊。

其中最顯著的例子要屬俄羅斯開發商Playrix推出的趣味性三消手遊《夢幻家園(Homescapes)》,該作將三消玩法與室內設計結合,一舉成爲了西方各大營收榜上的Top 5。

來自土耳其的Peak Games也借鑑了自己之前在三消遊戲中取得的成功,推出了全新遊戲《卡通爆炸(Toon Blast)》,走上了《玩具爆破》先前開闢的道路,而Glu Mobile則利用一款帶有PVP互動玩法的家裝設計應用《Design Home》拓展了人們對遊戲的定義,《Design Home》以及另一款同類遊戲《Covet Fashion》佔據了Glu Mobile總銷售額的40%。

同樣值得一提的還有Pocket Gems工作室推出的互動故事應用《Episodes》以及Pixelberry旗下的同類產品《選擇(Choice)》,兩款作品都在2017年間穩固盤旋在美國遊戲營收榜上的Top 20。《Episodes》的良好表現致使Pocket Gems的大股東之一騰訊追加了9千萬美元的投資,而Pixelberry則被韓國手遊巨頭Nexon收購。

但最令人驚訝的還是要屬King的《糖果粉碎傳奇》,儘管玩家數量出現了下降,但是通過對在線運營的調整,該作的收入仍然實現了季度性的環比增長。

增強現實技術(AR)被許多開發商看好

2017年,幾乎所有的手機應用程序開發商都放棄了VR,轉而寄期望於AR。

但這也是意料之中的事,在沒有可持續市場的情況下VR的前景不被看好,而蘋果公司最新發布的、支持ARKit的iOS 11操作系統在一夜之間就爲AR應用市場增添了1億用戶。

iOS 11的推出致使App Store上涌現出了一批花樣百出的AR遊戲和應用程序(多數需要付費),等到安卓版的ARCore在2018年實現發佈時,Google Play商店很有可能會再次出現這種情況。

無論如何,用戶現在每購買一部新的智能手機就等於是免費獲得了一個支持AR功能的設備,這樣一來,至少開發商們知道自己開發的AR應用有一個可以銷售的潛在市場。我們現在還說不準哪些AR應用可以大獲成功,這點需要時間來判斷,但有一點是可以肯定的,這次沒人能把失敗歸咎於設備的缺乏了。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Unlike previous years, there were no zingers in the world of mobile games during 2017.

That’s not to say nothing happened, of course.

Plenty did, but looking back, it was more a case of accelerating trends and future potential than headline-grabbing news such as Activision Blizzard’s $5.9 billion deal for King in 2015, or Nintendo’s first mobile game and Pokemon Go’s success in 2016.

So here are six of the year’s most significant trends; ones you’ll likely to see more of in 2018 too.

Mobile eSports

Is mobile eSports now a thing? Plenty of developers think so, and 2017 saw long term proponents such as Super Evil Megacorp finessing their activity. It’s just closed out the World Champions for its mobile MOBAVainglory in Singapore, also previewing the 5v5 mode that will launch next year.

Similarly Finnish developer Critical Force announced 30 million downloads of its Counter-Strike-inspired shooter Critical Ops, adding eSports investor and Overwatch League team owner Kevin Chou to its board.

But even if mobile eSport games don’t manage to stand out alongside the like of Overwatch, Dota 2 andLeague of Legends, plenty of regular mobile games with PVP modes – ranging from Clash Royale toSummoners War and Shadowverse – are claiming the eSport mantle as part of their regular in-game events schedule.

And that’s before we start to try an unpick what’s going on in China and what Tencent means when it says its $2 billion franchise Honor of Kings is an eSports title.

Nintendo

Given the success of the Switch, the pressure is off Nintendo when it comes to its still-relatively-new mobile operations. And perhaps that’s a good thing.

Super Mario Run was the most downloaded new game on Google Play in 2017, and has racked up over 200 million downloads across Android and iOS, but Nintendo still labels it a financial disappointment. RPG Fire Emblem has performed much better, generating over $100 million of revenue, but Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has only troubled the top grossing charts in Japan.
In that context, it could be the case that in FY17, as in FY16, Nintendo will make more money from licensing the Pokemon IP to Niantic, the developer of Pokemon Go ($160 million in FY16), than it makes from its own mobile games.

Smaller, more focused IPOs and M&As

While 2017 didn’t see any billion dollar acquisitions in the mobile game space, there was plenty of significant activity nevertheless.

Australian casino outfit Aristocrat dropped $500 million on Israel core developer Plarium, while Take-Two made a serious move into mobile with its $250 million acquisition of Spanish casual developer Social Point, and Korean publisher Nexon bought US studio Pixelberry for an undisclosed sum but one likely to be north of $100 million.

Aside from these ‘complete’ deals, however, another interesting trend were more focused acquisitions. For example, Zynga spent $100 million to buy Peak Games’ card and board game studio while Australian outfit Animoca Brands sold its casual games in two tranches so it could focus on other areas of its operations.

This commodification of business – the mark of a maturing market – was also reflected in a healthy stream of mobile game companies floating on various stock exchanges. The largest by far was South Korean publisher Netmarble, which buoyed by the local success of its Lineage 2: Revolution game, raised over $2 billion from its IPO and is now valued at $15 billion.

Western activity was much smaller in terms of valuations, but Rovio (mcap $1 billion) and Next Games ($200 million) successfully listed in Finland, while Mag Interactive ($120 million) and Nitro Games ($10 million) listed in Sweden. Expect more in 2018.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Although not as relevant as in the world of PC/console gaming, PUBG, and by extension battle royale, did cast a shadow over mobile games in 2017.

As with so many trends, this one was concentrated in China, which as well as providing the biggest audience for PUBG is also the biggest mobile game market. Unsurprisingly then, by the end of the year, app stores were awash with PUBG clones. NetEase released five, including a Terminator II-branded game, while Tencent scooped the official mobile version of PUBG, and then announced another official spin-off.

However, given touchscreens are not a natural environment for shooters, nor the length of each PUBGsession a good match in terms of mobile usage, and not forgetting no-one has yet demonstrated a successful F2P battle royale game, it will be interesting to see whether this trend is one more about the ongoing rivalry between Tencent and NetEase for market share in China than fulfilling actual audience desire.

Death of ‘midcore’

It’s taken a couple of years but 2017 saw radical change at the top of the top grossing app store charts. Non-gaming subscription apps such as Pandora, Netflix and Tinder replaced the likes of Clash of Clans andGame of War, while the assault on now-aging midcore titles was reinforced by the rise of a new generation of casual games, particularly casual games more accessible for female audiences.

The most notable new release in this vein was Russian developer Playrix’s Homescapes, which swapped the match-3 garden-design setting of Gardenscapes for interior design and became a top 5 top grossing game across the west.

Turkish outfit Peak Games also built on previous success in the match-3 genre, with new game Toon Blastfollowing the path blazed by Toy Blast, while Glu Mobile stretched the definition of what could be considered a ‘game’ with its PVP interactive interior design app Design Home. Together with similar experience Covet Fashion, the two games now generate over 40 percent of the company’s sales.

Also notable in this regard were Pocket Gems’ interactive story app Episodes, and Pixelberry’s Choices. Both were top 20 top grossing US games throughout the year, with Pocket Gems stakeholder Tencent rewarding the company’s performance with an additional $90 million investment, and Nexon acquiring Pixelberry for an undisclosed amount.

But the biggest surprise was the reinvention of King’s Candy Crush Saga, which despite declining player numbers saw quarter-on-quarter growth in revenues as King got serious about live ops, better engaging with and monetizing its players.

Augmented reality gains traction

2017 was the year almost everyone in the mobile space ditched VR for AR.

It wasn’t a difficult decision either. With no sustainable market even for a mobile VR ecosystem in which mobile-compatible headsets such as Google’s Daydream and Samsung’s Gear VR boasted an install base of millions, the release of Apple’s ARKit-containing iOS 11 created an AR install base of 100 million devices overnight.

The result was a wave of rather gimmicky and typically paid AR games and apps on App Store; something that’s likely to be repeated on the Google Play store when Android equivalent ARCore is released in 2018.

Nevertheless, with AR now given-away-for-free with every new smartphone purchase, at least developers know they have a potential market to sell into. The balance between fad app and killer app will, no doubt, take time to judge but this time no-one will be able to blame failure on a lack of devices. (Source: gamasutra.com