Dragon Army is a mobile gaming studio. We’re going to create games for mobile devices for consumers (not for “clients”, which is my past experience). I’ve had several people ask me since we started, “Cool. Why exactly?” Seems an appropriate question since this is somewhat of a reach based on my past, so I spent some time thinking about why I’m bullish on mobile gaming.
1. Mobile isn’t going anywhere. We can all agree on that at this point, right? Mobile is huge, everyone is using their mobile device more and more, and if the next generation is showing us anything, its hard to pull them away from their phones for more than a few minutes at a time. And get this, over 80% of ALL REVENUE generated from mobile devices was via games. Yeah, I’ll bet on that.
2. Zynga has shown us that gaming is huge, but mobile is the future. Zynga, the poster child for recent day wild valuations, went from media darling with a huge IPO to very quickly struggling to keep its head above water. My personal belief on why this happened is that Zynga was too heavily betting on social gaming vs. mobile gaming. They’re working to make the transition and I hope its not too late. Companies like King.com have done a great job focusing more of their attention on mobile gaming, giving me more faith in their upcoming IPO being successful.
3. Mobile devices are finally getting to the point where they are made for gaming. Have you played with the new iPhone 5S? Or the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the Galaxy Note 3? These devices are incredible. They can handle large scale mobile games with ease. And I’m not even talking about the tablets which are quickly becoming as powerful as laptops. Mobile devices have long been able to play casual games – Dots and Candy Crush – but are now able to play far more advanced games. This will bring the major gaming studios even more into the mobile landscape and the true gamers out of the woodwork.
4. Mobile gaming is just getting started. Some major game publishers are starting to produce games for mobile devices first and consoles second, which is a HUGE new trend in serious game development. Apple is also starting to take gaming more seriously and as soon as they go “all in”, the industry will follow suit quickly. In 2011, mobile gaming took 9% of all money spent on gaming (across any platform). That’s huge because it was two years ago and that number is likely closer to 15% now, and mobile games are a fraction of the cost of console games.
5. It won’t be long before mobile gaming takes over more of the living room. Connected experiences – watching TV and using your mobile device to create an enhanced viewing experience, for example – is still very much a work-in-progress. Apple has made sure they are in a ton of living rooms with their low-cost AppleTV and Google just started the process by ditching Google TV (essentially) and rolling out Google Chromecast. If the Microsoft tablets or phones ever take off, they’re well positioned to own the living room as their Xbox consoles are in over 50 million living rooms. Gaming is going to blow up once these connections start happening, starting with when Apple flips the AppleTV to become a gaming console complete with the App Store people know and love. I believe that will change everything.
6. Investment into mobile gaming will continue to climb. Currently 80% of mobile game developers don’t make enough from their own titles to support themselves, requiring them to take paying clients to supplement their passion. I’m betting that as more mobile game studios generate substantial returns, the angel and VC community will ratchet up their interest in investing in these studios and entrepreneurs. We just need a few more King.com successes to generate enough interest. I’m hoping Dragon Army can start that process in Atlanta, but its going to take a lot of hard work.