After a fantastic reception on the first day of Apps World, Microsoft were back in force to promote the latest devices to an eager public. The newly announced Nokia Lumia 1520 and Lumia 2520 were back on the show floor and being demoed, and they were joined by the latest tablets from Microsoft themselves, the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. The Xbox One with Forza 5 also returned, giving attendees another day to perfect their lap times to win a Nokia mobile phone. Not bad!
For those of you who can't attend Apps World, here's a brief run-down of just some of our favourite talks from the event.
Trends and Changes in the App Eco System: Is There Still Room for Indies? (Gaming World) - 10.20 to 10.50
with Sean Clark (Big Fish Games)
Start-ups and indies are finding it increasingly difficult to stand out in marketplaces that are full of companies with huge marketing budgets, so what can you do to help your successes? Self-publishing may give you the lions share of app revenue, but it might be what's holding your app back from really kicking off. Being your own marketer impacts your development time, could lead to discover issues and will generate more work in general. It is the reason why a lot of first-time app developers will look for a publishing partner to help hit the track running, giving them time to establish a name for themselves and self-publish in the future after some proven success.
With a publishing partner, you will get expertise of the eco-system and tried-and-tested marketing, as well as full development support. It will mean that you'll receive a lower revenue share, but with the right people advertising a good game, it's likely that it will earn you more money anyway. However, Sean warned that you should be wary about publishers that overstep their position. They shouldn't tell you what game to make to be successful (and this also goes for developers asking this of publishers,) nor should they manage the development process or have some 'winning formula'. However, the publishing partner will always benefit from doing a good job, so rest easy knowing that it's a mutually beneficial relationship.
Why LEGO Hero Factory launched on Windows 8 (Gaming World) - 10.50 to 11.20
with Mike Hawkyard (Amuzo)
Before coming to Windows 8, LEGO Hero Factory enjoyed over 30 million play sessions. However, each of the platforms that it had been released on had it's own, unique perks. iOS had the best revenue, Google Play had the most installs, Amazon had the best monetisation ratio and browser had the most play time. Of course, a game featuring the LEGO brand also received a good marketing drive, including events, television adverts and being printed on particular LEGO products. However, there way a problem. As it stood, it was going to cost about $3-6 per install on iOS to get new adopters. Suffice to say, the marketing budget didn't extend to accommodate this.
If possible, get the game on flash sites like Newgrounds and Kongregate. With a small investment of around £1000 for art, copy and the time do make changes, the game reached 2 million unique users at around £0.0005 cost per player. While it's difficult to directly monetise this way, it provides a great way in to get your name out there, as well as to advertise your app-based games. Business development is one of the most important roles in a new company, so make sure they are making relationships with these websites, partners in the app space and event organisers. Make sure they know who you are, you never know what benefits you will get for doing so. It's also worth taking the time and effort to make the app appearance, icon, name and screenshots tailored specifically per platform. The platforms themselves are always looking to show off apps in order to show off devices and such, and you want to be that showcase app.
With a £10k marketing budget, LEGO Hero Factory was ported to Windows 8. In just the first month the game had 500,000 installs, with an average of 5 sessions per player at 7 minutes a day. That works out to a mere 2p per user for Windows 8, which is a much more favourable number than that needed for iOS acquisition. Using TIGA and Chartboost, the game will only continue to gather more and more players in the future.
Exploring Methodologies and Tools (Developer World) - 14.00 to 14.40
with Ingrid Lunden (Tech Crunch), Joris Bleys (Technicolor), Lee Stott (Microsoft) and Vladimir Mitrovic (Nordeus)
Should you be thinking of cross platform? For game development, it's becoming increasingly important to develop with multiple platforms in mind, whether this is so that you can port at a later date, or by using a middleware vendor to ensure you have access to as many markets as possible. Even the potential costs involved when using tools like Unity isn't enough to dissuade most developers that understand the importance of reaching as wide a market as possible. Time is also more important than cost in early development, so studios can continue to work on their games while not having to worry about the code not being compatible with another marketplace.
There is also the opportunity to use services like Windows Azure to feed content to apps on multiple platforms, which then would only require one bank of information and the porting of UI and platform-specific features. The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn't waste time trying to reskill yourself or others. There are many middleware opportunities out there that can take your existing game coding skills and allow you to code for platforms that naturally don't support that particular language.
Is HTML5 the right choice for large corporations? (HTML5) - 15.30 to 16.10
with Colin Eberhardt (Scott Logic), Noel Massey (Motorola), Martin Beeby (Microsoft) and Frits Reneman (Adidas)
First and foremost, HTML5 is messy. While it's great fun for hackathons where developers can grab the pieces they need and go crazy with it, enterprises are looking for a robust system. That's not to say that it's unsuitable, far from it, but large corporations are far more likely to not want to handle development themselves, handing the work to a third party. However, it is important that development teams look at HTML5 like any other framework when looking at costs, pros and cons.
It is also important to create multiple prototypes, making sure that sufficient usability tests are performed. Closed user testing is of particular importance, as it can avoid mistakes made by other companies where a HTML5 conversion caused issues not immediately apparent from regular QA. With thorough testing and the right know-how, HTML5 is perfectly capable of being a choice for large corporations, but it will also be facing stiff competition from other languages.
[That's it for Apps World! However, we're not quite done with content. Be sure to check back over the next few weeks for more content, and in the meantime, keep an eye on the @Ubelly Twitter account for information, pictures and competitions!]