YoYo Games’ move into publishing has obviously been planned for a long time given the company has needed to raise investment to fund their expansion.
With the Apple App Store having opened in June 2008, after YoYo Games was founded, their initial monetization model must have been adapted. Whether not YoYo realistically thought they would sell many PC titles or if they predicted that in the future there would be opportunities to take Game Maker games elsewhere I don’t know but the success of mobile application stores must have bought about a strategy change.
YoYo Games had previously mentioned the possiblity of game makers being able to earn revenue from their game by implementing in game ads, now they’ve moved into mobile distribution perhaps we will later see support for in game integration with an established advertising provider which could potentially lead to some games releasing ad-supported free versions.
It has taken a long time to release the first games but after the first 3 releases emerged at a good rate we haven’t seen anything for the last week and a half. At the recent App Development conference in Dundee Russell Kay announced that the company was currently working on “polishing” 18 games. If they are to reach their target of 500 game releases by 2012 and £18million turnover in that year they will seriously will have to expand or change their current manual process.
With growth continuing at an exponential rate there have now been more than 6.5 billion downloads from the iTunes App Store and over 2 billion from the Android Marketplace. With the sector known to be growing and highly profitable, publishing on mobile devices would appear to offer the best revenue prospects when compared to a slower more-traditional PC-based sales or advertising supported site.
Unsurprisingly a significantly greater proportion of apps are free on Android than are on iPhone. Given the established App Store, high ownership numbers and willingness to pay for games it makes sense to start on iOS devices though personally I hope that the first Android release is on schedule for the first quarter 2011.
Having had a look around the marketplaces and seen some of the product descriptions, ratings and pricing it is quickly apparent that people are willing to make impulsive purchases of very simple and poorly produced apps. Whilst these apps may make a bit of pocket for their creators a well-designed app can be extremely lucrative.
Apple opened up their store to applications created using other software in September last year which was crucial for the monetization plans of “middleware” companies such as YoYo Games.
Jon Jordan wrote an interesting piece about YoYo Games, Unity and GameSalad positioning themselves as publishers over at PocketGamer last week where he said that with their existing communities of developers they have a distinct advantage over other publishers.
I think in the year ahead there will be plenty of moaning from long time Game Maker users who would prefer that YoYo focus on improving their existing projects rather than going off after new areas – but the fact is something has to pay the bills and apps look to be best bet of doing so.
In summary – After several years of nothing much happening publicly at YoYo Games the decision to move into the mobile sector looks like it is the right choice both for revenues and to increase awareness of Game Maker as a development tool.