Building the next Candy Crush has become a dream for every game developer. For an indie developer or a large development firm – mobile game development can be equally challenging.
Numerous problems across a developer’s path as he designs gaming apps for mobiles.
In the post, we highlight 9 such challenges and our recommendations on how to deal with them
1. Too Many Ideas Spoil the Game: It may sound like a great idea to have too many feature ideas for your game, but it isn’t. Including a lot of features in your gaming app may undermine the user experience and increase the cost of development, what is often referred to as ‘feature creep’
Recommendation: A good way of eliminating feature creep is adding features as you go. This iterative approach allows the developer to focus on the most important aspects of the app and make changes as she gets feedback from users.
2. Knowing Your Audience: It is important to identify your target audience. Different games appeal to different audiences. Some games can garner attention from the masses, while others cater to a certain segment of gamers. But how do you identify the audience that’ll enjoy your game the most?
Recommendation: Here’s how you can identify the target audience for your mobile game:
Create personas. Personas are composites of people who are most likely to download your app. Tools likeFlurry can help you create online personas.
Find out some stats that talk about your target audience’s demographics like age, location, gender, occupation etc. You can accumulate data about similar markets using Google Trends, Quantcast and App Annie.
Use online surveys to gather information about your target audience. You can use SurveyMonkey and other similar tools to access large user databases for a certain fee.
Write a target market analysis using the above information.
Bingo! You’ve identified your target audience.
3. Getting Your Game Noticed. App discovery is a huge pain point with mobile game developers. Placing your game where it actually gets noticed takes marketing dollars, which only a few have. Today, the number of good games is more than the number of successful games, but the sad part is – the good ones aren’t discovered.
Recommendation: A few ways to ensure that your gaming app gets noticed are –
Make it available at attractive prices. Freemium is also one way of doing it.
Name your app carefully. App Store Optimization (ASO) suggest including words in the app name which suggest its purpose.
Cross Promotion is a big hit. Get your game listed on the interface of other games.
4. Raising Funds for the Game: Raising capital for the game can be a big challenge. No funding means limited labor pool, limited access to backend resources and other necessities. But how do you gather funds?
Recommendation: You can try the usual way by asking friends and family for help, taking business loans or tapping into your personal savings. However, if you wish to get a little creative, here’s what you can do:
Use free or inexpensive prototyping types. GameSalad is a great example.
Find a team of employees who are willing to work on revenue sharing model.
Take help from fundraising sites like Kickstarter.
Do some freelance work on the side. These jobs will enhance your experience and get you some funds.
5. Operating System Fragmentation: The mobile development ecosystem is changing rapidly. New operating systems are coming up. However, with every new release, there is still a segment of users using older versions of the OS. Besides, each OS has its own SDK and rules. So, does this mean you design separately for each operating system?
Recommendation: Your app must support multiple operating systems. Tools like Unity, PhoneGap andMOSync help you in streamlining the code and develop an app for multiple Operating systems. They can reduce the development time by up to 75%.
6. Delivering Cross-Platform Experiences: Your game should be able to run on myriad of devices. Users now want to enjoy a seamless gaming experience on the web, their smartphones, and tablets/phablets. The challenge is to sync features like game levels, scores, progress, and purchases across all devices. This becomes even more difficult with complex games like scrabble etc.
Recommendation: Designing for multiple platforms gives your game app that extra visibility. There are several cross-platform development tools that make your job simpler. The ones you should try are –Appcelerator, RhoMobile, PhoneGap, WidgetPad, and Whoop.
7. Dealing with Security Concerns: No matter how secure a mobile device is, the control on user data while accessing the game is the sole responsibility of the game developer. It is the duty of the developer to ensure that data security isn’t compromised with.
Recommendation: Encryption is a great solution. It transforms the user data in a way that an unauthorised third party cannot access it. Only an authorised person can decrypt the data and read it. This ensures the safety of user data even if the device gets lost.
8. Intellectual Rights and Other Contract Issues: Contract issues are the biggest nightmare of any game developer. There are several people involved in making a mobile game. How do you deal with intellectual rights, ownership and monetisation in this case?
Recommendation: The developer must own all the intellectual rights to the product he is building. This ensures continuous monetization of the gaming app. Besides, having licensing agreements in place can help in developing a continuous stream of revenue.
9. Maintenance: Regular maintenance of an app can be daunting. There’s a lot to do – bug fixes, new versions, upgrades etc. You also need to beef up the content, links, databases, and feeds regularly. This requires time commitment and can cost you dollars.
Recommendation: Opt for end-user development. Release a light version of the app, and there on let the app grow based on user feedback. Keep releasing bug fixes, improvements, small patches and upgrades over the next few months. These lighter tweaks will consume less time and prove to be less costly. It is all about creating an aura of continuous improvement.
Mobile game development can test your patience. But with the right tools and tricks, you can overcome the challenges and successfully deliver a wholesome gaming experience for your users.
It would be interesting to understand any other challenges you have come across while developing a game? Feel free to comment below.
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