Licensing Leads to Lucrative Titles for Mobile Developers

Back in the day, only the truly nerdy played games on the go. While they might have been popular amongst you and all your friends during your formative years, the kids that had Game Boys were definitely in a different social strata than those rocking Walkmen. But these days, everyone and their mom (and maybe their grandma, too) are playing mobile games thanks to the growing ubiquity of smartphones.

With several billion smartphones now on the market (give or take a few), there’s never been a bigger audience. As a result, one of the best ways to reach them is through video games, specifically mobile titles. In fact, 2015 will be the first year that mobile gaming revenues will surpass traditional consoles. With the industry only continuing to grow, it likely won’t be the last.

One of the best ways to reach this massive audience is through licensed mobile gaming titles that can catch the eye and appeal to the interests of casual audiences. However, the quality of those offerings can often vary quite wildly, though companies are starting to be more mindful when creating games for mobile devices.

Teemu Huuhtanen, CEO of licensed mobile game developer Next Games, talked about the potential for taking advantage of licensed titles. He believes the limited vision of what could be done with gaming titles based on movies and shows has hampered the creativity and potential for the product.

“License owners previously often saw games, not as their own bespoke medium, but as a marketing extension of the original movie or TV show. This puts a lot of pressure to re-create what fans liked about the original product, which is often at odds with what makes for a good game,”

Huuhtanen told Fast Company.

“This is especially true in modern mobile gaming with its short but frequent sessions. This type of gameplay lends itself poorly to overt and verbose narrative and character-centric structures.”

We’ve actually been seeing more and more games licensed after TV shows increasing in popularity. Projects based on popular shows such as The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones have been selling like gangbusters. Licensed titles are nothing new, of course, and some types of shows lend themselves better to the casual gaming format than others.

Game shows are one tested format that tends to be fun no matter how you present it, and smaller casual titles based on traditional game shows are perfect for fans looking for lighter fare. This is particularly true with the number of ways Deal Or No Deal is presented in the online gaming sphere alone. There, developers have blended the game show with traditional casino options like roulette and slots, which makes sense given that the show’s format is more or less based in luck.

And in one of those bizarre life-imitating-art-imitating-life type of scenario, the exchange goes both ways. NBC announced that it is making a show based on QuizUp, a popular mobile trivia app. In a particularly interesting twist, the game is planned to have its contestants compete against viewers playing simultaneously with their mobile devices.

As the lines between streaming video and mobile games continue to blur, we’re definitely excited to see what kind of future innovations the marriage of the two might be bring for the industry. We’ll just have to wait to find out how well the partnership works when that QuizUp show premieres in 2016.

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