Faster internet speeds and more extensive data plans are exponentially increasing the number of players, but also broadening the opportunities for pirates and cheaters in the gaming industry
AMSTERDAM – November 10, 2022 – Denuvo by Irdeto, the world leader in video games protection technology, in collaboration with Omdia, today announces the results of a global survey with mobile game developers. The results of the extensive survey provide a deep dive into the topics and trends that mobile game developers globally are facing daily. The survey reveals that the majority of concerns evolve around ensuring a solid revenue stream and gamer engagement.
The combination of near-universal accessibility to games and a huge global jump in demand during the pandemic have put mobile games into the hands of more players than ever. The mobile market continues to pioneer new types of entertainment and new ways to get it into the hands of the enormous global audience.
Three key trends are playing an increasingly central role in the current mobile games market: the rise of online multiplayer, free-to-play games and multiplatform development. While all three have existed for some time, the survey confirms that these have all become defining traits of the mobile games market. Over 80% of developers describe their current or most recent mobile game as multiplayer, with less than 20% working on a single-player title. Multiplayer game development is historically more complex than single-player as it entails a raft of additional challenges, including managing game servers, matchmaking, and chat and communications.
In addition to being multiplayer, 69% of mobile developers have released a multiplatform title which is available on mobile and on PC or console (or both) and a further 26% have plans to go multiplatform in the future. Multiplatform seems to be the future of games with 94% of mobile developers either having already developed or planning in the future to develop and publish across multiple platforms.
According to the survey results, there is a strong link between concerns around user retention and security. This is due to cheating, tampering and piracy being major drivers of player churn, and minimizing these unfair and malicious activities is one of the most effective steps developers can take to improve retention.
The survey revealed that a staggering 79% of developers consider cheating to be a major or moderate concern, up from 70% when surveyed at the end of 2021. With reference to tampering, 76% of developers are similarly concerned, up from 56% in 2021. While tampering may be less high-profile compared to cheating, a growing share of developers recognizes both as the main source of impact on revenue and gamer engagement.
Regarding security threats, piracy was strongly linked to revenue loss, with 33% reporting a moderate or significant impact on revenue. This is significantly higher than those who cited direct revenue loss due to cheating (26%) and tampering (14%).
Game developers execute a range of strategies to ensure a secure gaming experience. Only one in eight of those employing anti-cheat/tamper measures rely purely on in-house solutions while 31% of respondents rely on solutions provided by specialized external companies. Interestingly, the most effective option, employed by 56% of developers, is to combine in-house protection solutions with external ones. This seems to provide an effective way for studios to maintain an optimal balance of cost and expertise.
As the popularity of mobile games has grown, traditional console and PC game developers have adopted one of the biggest revenue opportunities from that sector: free-to-play games driven by in-game purchases. It’s become extremely rare that a high-profile video game is released now without some sort of recurring payment strategy — a far cry from the typical US$60 standalone game purchase that dominated the video game industry as recently as less than a decade ago.
That has proven to be a goldmine for gaming companies, but also another target for pirates. While selling additional content is an important revenue stream, it has become easy to bypass the existing barriers that try to secure downloadable content on popular gaming platforms like Steam and Epic. By using public and easily accessible tools, players can automatically generate and install programs that access downloadable content without paying for it.
As expected, when it comes to monetization, the survey found that most developers (60%) utilize paid in-game items, which is then supplemented by a variety of other revenue streams. In line with that industry development, Denuvo by Irdeto recently launched a pioneering technology to protect downloadable content (DLCs) against piracy. Denuvo SecureDLC is the first of its kind in the gaming market and provides opportunities to extend the revenue tail for developers and publishers past the initial launch window.
Another particularly interesting takeaway from the survey was that regardless of the exact monetization streams, something that all free-to-play games have in common is the need to drive user acquisition, engagement and retention. With the revenue cycle secured and extended, the key for developers to is maximize the number of users playing the game and ensure their engagement. This is the number one challenge facing mobile game developers today.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for game monetization. Each game has different mechanics and a different audience, making selecting an optimal business model yet another complex task faced by developers.
To discover insights and gaming trends, download the full report here.
Omdia is a market-leading data, research, and consulting business focused on helping digital service providers, technology companies, and enterprise decision-makers thrive in the connected digital economy. Through their global base of analysts, Omdia offers expert analysis and strategic insight across the IT, telecoms, and media industries.
For more information about Omdia, please visit https://omdia.tech.informa.com/.