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开发者谈App Store对游戏行业的十大影响

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发表于 2018-10-8 15:27:24 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
原作者:Craig Chapple

译者:Vivian Xue

来源:游戏邦

原地址:http://gamerboom.com/archives/95619

#1.把游戏引入大众市场

App Store出现以前,市面上的手游的游戏体验远不如今日,获取方式也不够便利。

当然还有一点,市面上没有一个能够提供成千上万种游戏的便捷的一站式应用程序商店。

游戏通常和‘硬核’主机、PC以及掌机等平台联系在一起。这些主机吸引了相当大一部分玩家,特别是任天堂的Wii。

新玩家群体的诞生

但App Store(以及接下来的Google Play)被推出后,游戏才真正进入了大众市场,玩家数量较主机时代翻了数倍。

如今几乎人人都有一只iphone,可以浏览和下载任何他们喜欢的游戏或应用。

这向那些从未认为自己会成为玩家的用户打开了市场,且玩家无需主机、PC或者掌机等高昂的专业游戏设备,游戏的入门成本降低了。

如今,手游玩家已达数十亿。从《糖果苏打传奇》到《愤怒的小鸟》,大部分手机用户都至少在App Store上下载过那么几个游戏。

任天堂的“特洛伊木马”策略

随着大众市场手游不断发展,连任天堂也加入了进来,曾经的他们从未想象过在另一家公司的硬件上发行游戏,但如今也发行了《超级马里奥跑酷》、《火焰纹章:英雄》和《动物之森:口袋营地》等手游。

任天堂希望将手游发展成一个价值数十亿的产业——许多游戏公司都实现了这一伟业。

并且他们把手游视为Switch和3DS的特洛伊木马,通过它们让大众回忆起那些经典IP,在以优质的掌机体验吸引大众,促进硬件设备的销售。

#2: 游戏即服务成为行业理念

游戏即服务思维以及策划运营已经成为现代手游产业成功的主要因素。

“仅仅”花个几百万美金和五年时间开发一款游戏然后发行的时代已经结束了。如今发行只是个开始。

App Store的收入排行榜好几年才会发生变动,并且一些游戏在长期支持下似乎永远不可能掉出前十。

成功的游戏策划运营的例子包括:

《愤怒的小鸟2》:在经历了相对糟糕的发行后,Rovio没有放弃这款游戏,最终把它变成了一棵摇钱树。

《精灵宝可梦Go》:这个Niantic基于定位的AR游戏是策划运营的绝佳范例。游戏通过频繁的线上和线下活动将玩家聚集在一起,并定期增加新的精灵,并且最近推出了交换精灵的功能。两年过去了,游戏还在不断地推陈出新并且创造着百万收入。

《龙珠Z:激战》: Bandai Namco是另一个成功运用游戏线上活动以及不断推出特殊活动的优秀例子。

《部落冲突》:五年过去了,Supercell还在忙着更新这款最热门的作品。重大的更新比如改变了游戏玩法的建筑大师基地。

这些只是几个成功的策划运营的例子。他们的巨大成功也引起了PC和主机领域的关注,整个行业逐渐认同了游戏即服务的理念,与此同时一次性付费模式也被渐渐抛弃。

app-storefrom-techbang.jpg
app store(from techbang)

#3:F2P模式盛行

F2P模式并不完全是手游的产物,它早在亚洲的PC市场上被实行多年了。但在App Store推出的几年后,这一商业模式真正在手游市场上大放异彩,并慢慢把付费游戏挤出市场。

对F2P模式的争论一度十分激烈。它是否只是一个利用限时机制掏空玩家口袋的模式呢?或者付费模式才真正利用了玩家,鉴于玩家有可能花60美金买到一个体验糟糕透顶的游戏?

模式的选择

F2P模式是否真正赢得了行业的认同尚待讨论。但它已经成为了消费者、开发者和发行商的选择。

F2P模式完全改变了游戏的设计方式。开发者需要挣钱,常常通过设置pinch points或鼓励玩家在grinding中花钱(pinch points指一些需要玩家反复尝试的困难关卡,grinding指让玩家重复完成任务以获得游戏内优势,不同游戏的应用方式不同,游戏邦注)

糟糕的F2P游戏盈利目的太过明显,它们没有在开发过程中重视内购的设计,而是简单粗暴地把它添加到游戏中。

F2P已经是手游设计中最常见的商业模式,它也逐渐被PC和主机游戏所采用。这很可能跟游戏即服务的行业趋势有关。

并且生命周期长的游戏必须要一个稳定的现金流来支持其发展。

#4::抽奖和战利品宝箱

关于F2P模式和游戏盈利方式最大的争议点通常是,抽奖或战利品宝箱。

玩家打开一个宝箱或者拉动机器摇杆,然后他们将获得一个,或者一堆的随机奖励物品。如果玩家想要某些特定的物品,他们必须不断地回来抽奖或开宝箱,直到运气足够好得到它们。

是时候进行监管了?

一些开发者设计了一种抽奖模式,让玩家们收集完整的一套普通物品,然后再用这些物品合成稀有物品,这种形式如今已经在亚洲国家中被禁止了,正如比利时禁止游戏中出现付费战利品宝箱。

但这些无法平息人们的争议。随着越来越多的人将战利品宝箱与赌博联系在一起,全世界的政府和监管人员正在进行调查,并且未来可能会颁布更多禁令和管理规定。

与此同时App Store对开发者提出最低要求,公布战利品宝箱的掉落率。

抽奖和战利品宝箱似乎是不可能完全消失的——对于这些成功运用它们的开发者来说,它们是赚钱的法宝。

无论它们对于行业是利还是弊,它们反映了App Store和手游行业作为整体的巨大影响力。

#5:广告成为游戏的重要盈利模式

App Store是F2P模式的关键推动力。就在游戏公司多年来通过内购(抽奖和战利品宝箱)吸金无数时,最近App Store上出现了大量以广告为主要盈利方式的超休闲游戏。

如果说内购是为了那些小部分的付费玩家设计的,那么游戏内广告则让开发者能够从剩余的玩家中盈利。

多样化的收入来源

一些像Ketchapp和Voodoo的公司都通过在他们的超休闲游戏中植入广告取得了巨大的成功。玩家并不需要花钱,同样游戏设计也不用围绕着内购。

广告通常在每轮游戏结束后出现,通常玩家在游戏中进行了某些操作,意味着他们停止了游戏(完成了某一关卡或者丢了一条命),或者通过广告来获取游戏内物品。

这一模式得到了Goldman Sachs的认可,这家公司花了2亿美金从Voodoo和Ubisoft那里收购了Ketchupp。并且iOS游戏开发者们将会在这一模式上继续进行创新。

#6:引发了游戏文化现象

我们之前提到App Store降低了游戏的入门门槛,将游戏引入了大众市场。

并且这是继《超级马里奥》和《侠盗猎车手》之后难得一见的文化现象。

著名的IP

当然,一些诸如《糖果苏打传奇》或者《愤怒的小鸟》的游戏IP几乎人尽皆知。

但是近年来,在App Store上产生了两大奇特的文化现象,至少在手游领域。

任天堂的《精灵宝可梦Go》为玩家提供了前所未有的游戏体验。全世界几百万人在街道上捕捉虚拟的小精灵。

这几乎成为了全球性的新闻。凡是拥有手机的人——是几乎所有人——都在玩这个游戏。

这种现象在手游平台之外是几乎不存在的。

全民吃鸡现象

另一个是史诗级的吃鸡游戏《堡垒之夜》,虽然PC端游戏创造了主要的收入,但是直到在App Store上发布了手游版本,这个游戏才真正进入了大众市场并且成为了一种文化现象。

如今任何人可以在任何他们喜爱的设备上玩这款游戏。连Drake都在玩这个游戏,电视节目也在不断谈论这个游戏。

游戏突破了时间和空间的限制,为这一游戏行业内史无前例文化现象提供了一个平台。

当然了,我们无法忘记《飞扬的小鸟》短暂的成功,以及《糖果苏打传奇》持续的成功。

#7:孕育了价值数十亿美元的新品牌和新公司

App Store和其他的手游市场,为一些价值数十亿美元的IP提供了跳板,这些IP在平台诞生前是不存在的。

虽然King早已为人们所知,但直到《糖果苏打传奇》发行后,他们的发展才走向了一个新高度,最终在2015年以59亿的价格被动视暴雪收购。

百万美元俱乐部

Supercell在发行了《部落冲突》后转向并扎根在了手游行业。据报道这款游戏迄今为止已经创造了40亿美元的收入。Supercell并不满足于此又制作了《皇室战争》,也是一款收入超过10亿美金的游戏。

此外还有腾讯的《王者荣耀》、Mixi的《怪物弹珠》,Gungho的《智龙迷城》,索尼的《命运-冠位指定》以及任天堂的《精灵宝可梦Go》。

想在手游市场上发展可谓艰难,尤其是如今它处于一个行业兼并时期。但是那些能够突破重围的公司必将前途无量。

手游成为数十亿的产业的好处是,有时候,资本将刺激游戏产业中心的发展,特别是芬兰赫尔辛基开发商Supercell为本国的工作室提供支持。

#8: App Store逐渐扼杀了付费游戏

付费模式在App Store上一开始是十拿九稳的商业模式。Rovio通过付费游戏《愤怒的小鸟》赚得盆满钵满,而Gameloft也通过它发展到了巅峰。

但是接着行业的风向转向了F2P,随着King和Supercell的崛起,Rovio和Gameloft的发展面临困境。

2018年,付费模式不是什么陈旧的模式,它已经彻底行不通了。

最后的狂欢?

Ustwo和Fireproof仍然成功地运用了这一模式,高品质游戏《纪念碑谷2》和《迷室:往逝》都为他们创造优秀的销售成绩。而一些其它的游戏比如Florence, 《老人的旅程》和《画中故事》似乎证明了这种模式仍有发展空间。

但是这对大多数开发者来说并不是长久之计,无论是独立开发者或是顶级发行商。

仍然有很多玩家喜爱一次性付费的体验。但是大众市场的势头还是转向F2P模式和运营策划,付费模式被大部分人判了死刑。

Square Enix最近确认取消了优秀的付费游戏Go系列的开发就是这一点最好的证明。

#9:新玩法的诞生

手机平台独特的触摸机制是一个全新的游戏互动方式。在App Store上线后,一系列易上手的触屏游戏诞生了。

消费者再也不需要和复杂的键盘鼠标操作、PC设置以及主机的手柄做斗争了,他们可以体验一种自然的触摸滑动操作。

这种游戏互动方式为开发者们提供了巨大的成功机会。

AR的兴起

苹果公司最近发布了ARKit,一套帮助开发者开发以AR技术为基础的iOS应用游戏的框架。如今用户可以通过手机摄像头将虚拟与现实相连了,《精灵宝可梦Go》就是一个例子。

此外手机的特性,尤其是定位功能,与AR游戏更为契合,能够为用户带来更好的游戏体验。Niantic即将发行《哈利·波特:巫师集会》将会是另一个例子。

App Store是实现这一切的完美平台:他们设立了一个致力于AR应用软件的特殊部门。

他们也支持了VR……但是苹果公司似乎对它并不像对AR一样那么上心。

#10. App Store催生了许多模仿者

自从App Store被推出以来,亚洲推出了针对安卓设备的Google Play和大量的第三方安卓商店。

他们都是苹果巨大成功的模仿者。

这一切并不是完美的——曝光度已经成为应用程序商店的一个巨大问题,引发了用户获取成本的上升。

新变化,老问题

针对这个问题,苹果公司已经尝试改变了商店界面,去年对其进行了彻底的重新设计。可以说,这些变化对开发者是有利的,特别是商店里的每日游戏推荐。但是,一些诸如高用户获取成本和低曝光度的问题仍然没有得到改善。

随着Facebook即时小游戏的兴起,App Store可能需要在未来几年进一步改造自己。

Facebook Messenger等聊天应用带来的威胁是真实存在的,因为用户大部分时间都花在这些软件里。同时,Google Play也推出了即时体验Google Play Instant,让用户在下载完整游戏前可以先在商店内快速体验一把。

苹果拥有iOS的生态系统,因此它不可能不战而败,但如果它拒绝接受即时游戏在聊天系统中兴起的趋势——它的确有iMessage游戏,但与主要的应用程序商店App Store相比相形见绌-——它可能很快就会发现自己看起来过时了。

不过鉴于它的主导地位,至少它不会发现自己在这场竞争中无关紧要。

#1: Brought games to the mass market

Prior to the launch of the App Store there were still mobile games available to play, but the experience was never a particularly pleasant or accessible one like it is today.

Certainly, there wasn’t such an easy one-stop shop for hundreds of thousands of games.

Gaming was also generally tied to the ‘hardcore’ console, PC and handheld platforms. These consoles certainly shifted their fair share of units, particularly the Nintendo Wii which attracted a broad range of users.

New demographics

But with the launch of the App Store, gaming had finally found a place (and then on Google Play too) to be truly both accessible and mass market, attracting userbases many times that of console.

Now anyone who owned a phone, almost everyone, could browse and download any games or apps they wanted.

This opened up the market to new audiences who hadn’t considered themselves gamers before and lowered the barrier to entry from the high cost of a console, PC or handheld for a dedicated gaming device.

Today, billions of people play mobile games. From Candy Crush Saga to Angry Birds, most phone owners will have at least dabbled in app store gaming.

Trojan horse

A sign of just how mass market mobile has become is that Nintendo, which once upon a time would not have dreamed of releasing games on another company’s hardware, is now developing and publishing mobile titles such as Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

Nintendo wants mobile to become a billion-dollar business – a feat that has happened multiple times for other companies.

It also sees mobile as a trojan horse for the Nintendo Switch and 3DS, getting the mass market once again familiar with its IP and tempting them with its premium experiences on its own hardware.

#2: Games-as-a-service

Games-as-a-service and live operations have become a staple of successful for modern mobile games businesses.

Gone is the notion of ‘simply’ spending millions of dollars over five years to release a game and then move straight on to the next project. Now, the launch is often just the start.

The App Store top grossing rankings take years to change, and some games have seemingly never moved out of the top 10 thanks to long-term support.

Case studies

Key examples of successful live operations including:

Angry Birds 2 – After a relatively poor start to life, Rovio Stockholm stuck with the game and eventually turned it into a money-spinner for the Finnish company. You can read an in-depth analysis of the changes here.

Pokemon Go – Niantic’s hit location-based augmented reality title is a prominent example of what can be achieved through good live ops. There are constant in-game and real-world events to bring players together, regular new pokemon additions, and more recently the addition of major features such as trading. Two years on, the game is still changing and still bringing in the millions.

Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle – Bandai Namco is another prime case study of the importance of in-game events, and how special events can be built up over time. You can read our full analysis on just how successful it’s been here.

Clash of Clans – Five years later, Supercell isn’t done with supporting its biggest game. Major updates such as Builder Base have changed the way the game it plays.

These are just a few examples of successful live ops. And their massive success hasn’t gone unnoticed in the PC and console sectors, which are shifting to a games-as-a-service approach and moving away from those one-off premium launches.

#3: Ushered in free-to-play

Free-to-play isn’t completely unique to mobile, it had been around on PC in Asia. But a few years after the App Store launched, mobile really brought the business model into its own, slowly elbowing out almost all premium experiences on the platform.

The debates around free-to-play were fierce. Was it just picking the pockets of players with its timers? Or was it premium that was really taking advantage of players, charging $60 for what could be a terrible experience?

Model of choice

Whether free-to-play truly won that debate in the industry is moot. It became the model of choice for consumers and so to developers and publishers.

Free-to-play has completely changed the way games are designed. Developers still need to make money, often through pinch points and encouraging spending through the grind.

Poor free-to-play titles are those that are too harsh with their monetisation and ones where it’s obvious IAPs were tacked on after, rather than a key consideration in design.

The model continues to evolve. Fortnite has shown that, at least in its own unique case, players will spend big on cosmetic items. While the rise of ad-fuelled games mean that users aren’t pushed to spend – they just have to watch ads.

Mostly known as the business model of choice on mobile, free-to-play has steadily been adopted in the PC and console spaces. And that’s likely to do with the previous trend: games-as-a-service.

And games played over the long-term require a steady stream of money to be supported.

#4: Gacha and loot boxes

The most controversial element of free-to-play and monetisation, in general, is that of gacha, or loot boxes.

Here players can open a box or pull a lever on a machine, with a random item, or items, rewarded to the player. If players are after specific items, they’ll have to keep coming back until they are lucky enough to get them.

Time for regulation?

Some users of gacha had players collecting a full set of common items, which could then be combined into a rare item. Some forms of gacha have now been banned in Asian countries, as have loot boxes in Belgium.

That’s not the end of the controversy though. As more people liken loot boxes to gambling. Governments and watchdogs around the world are investigating the matter, which could lead to further bans and/or regulations.

The App Store meanwhile has demanded developers at least disclose loot box odds.

It seems unlikely gacha and loot boxes will fully disappear – they are too lucrative for those who successfully harness them.

Whether good or bad for the industry, it’s certainly an example of the App Store and mobile greatly influencing the sector as a whole.

#5: Ads have become a lucrative business model for games

The App Store was a key driver in the rise of free-to-play. And while over the years companies made their riches from in-app purchases (and gacha and lootboxes), more recently the App Store has been home to ad-led hyper-casual games.

With IAPs about monetising the small fraction of paying users, in-game ads give developers the opportunity to monetise the rest.

Viable revenue generator

Companies like Ketchapp and Voodoo have made huge successes of this model for their simple hyper-casual portfolios. Players aren’t required to spend, and so game design isn’t built around the need to generate revenue through IAPs.

Instead, ads are used between gameplay, often when the player has done something that means they’ve stopped playing (completed a level or lost a life), or are using ads to gain in-game items.

The model is enough to have convinced Goldman Sachs to invest $200 million into Voodoo and Ubisoft to acquire Ketchapp. And more App Store developers will continue innovating on the model.

#6: It’s the bedrock of cultural phenomenons in gaming

We previously talked about the App Store offering better accessibility, bringing games to the mass market in the process.

And with that have come some true cultural phenomenons rarely seen elsewhere in games outside of Mario’s long history and Grand Theft Auto.

Famous IP

There are games like Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds of course, which most people will be aware of.

But recently there have been two spectacular cultural phenomenons that, at least on mobile, started life on the App Store.

Niantic’s Pokemon Go was an experience like no other before it. Hundreds of millions of people around the world were taking to the streets to catch virtual critters.

It was all over national and international news. Everyone who owned a phone – which is most people – was playing it.

That’s an opportunity that simply doesn’t exist on any other platform outside of mobile.

Battle royale

Then there’s Epic’s battle royale smash hit Fortnite. While PC has certainly been the significant revenue driver, it’s really since the App Store release that the game became truly mass market and a cultural phenomenon.

Now everyone can play the game anywhere on their preferred device. Even Drake is playing it, while TV shows can’t stop talking about it.

The fact that you can take the experience out of the home is providing a platform for cultural phenomenons unlike the games industry has ever seen before.

And of course, we can’t forget the (fleeting) success of Flappy Bird, and the (still-going) success of Candy Crush Saga.

#7: Birthed new multi-billion dollar brands and companies

The App Store, and other mobile marketplaces, have provided the springboard for multi-billion dollar IPs – some of which didn’t exist before it.

While King was already in the browser space, the launch of Candy Crush Saga on mobile was what raised the company to new heights, eventually resulting in its $5.9 billion sale to Activision Blizzard in 2015.

Billion-dollar club

Supercell pivoted to mobile with the development of Clash of Clans and hasn’t looked back since. The game has reportedly made more than $4 billion to date. Not content with one smash hit, Supercell did it again with Clash Royale, making over $1 billion.

Then there’s Tencent’s Arena of Valor (Honor of Kings), Mixi’s Monster Strike, Gungho’s Puzzle & Dragons, Sony’s Fate/Grand Order and Niantic’s Pokemon Go.

Mobile is a tough market, particularly now it’s in a period of consolidation. But for those that can break through, the sky’s the limit.

Another benefit of mobile’s billions is that in some cases, that money has helped spur on games industry hubs, particularly Helsinki, with Supercell a willing supporter of Finnish studios.

You can check out mobile’s billion-dollar club here.

#8: The App Store has slowly killed off premium

Premium started out as the go-to business model for success on the App Store. Rovio was making a mint off of premium Angry Birds and Gameloft was at the height of its powers.

But then the winds of change began blowing as the industry moved to free-to-play. As King and Supercell grew, Rovio and Gameloft struggled.

In 2018, premium isn’t quite a thing of the past. But it’s close.

Last hurrah?

Ustwo and Fireproof have kept the model alive with the excellent Monument Valley 2 and The Room: Old Sins. While other titles like Florence, Old Man’s Journey and Gorogoa prove there is some room for success in premium.

But it’s not a sustainable model for most devs, whether indie or especially the top publishers.

There are still people interested in premium, one-off payment experiences. But with the mass market appeal of free-to-play and the move to live operations, premium is all but dead for most.

A point particularly proven by comments from Square Enix Montreal studio head Patrick Naud recently, who confirmed the excellent (and premium) Go series is no more.

#9: New ways to play

Touch control was a new way of interfacing with a device that was unique to mobile. Upon the release of the app store, a new spate of accessible touch-based games opened up.

Consumers no longer needed to contend with then complicated keyboard and mouse setup of PC and controllers of console – but instead could use an intuitive series of touch and swipe gestures to interact with the device.

It’s a way of interfacing with games that developers ran with to huge success.

Rise of AR

More recently, Apple has released ARKit, a framework that helps developers build augmented reality-based apps and games for the App Store. Now it’s possible for users to bring the virtual into the real world through their phone’s camera, ala Pokemon Go.

The nature of mobile also means these experiences can be played on the go with location-based gaming set for another boon with the upcoming release of Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

And the App Store is providing the perfect home for these experiences: there’s a special section dedicated to AR apps.

There’s some virtual reality support too… but Apple doesn’t seem to much care for that as it does AR.

#10: The App Store has spawned a host of imitators

Since the launch of the App Store, we’ve had the launch of Google Play for Android devices and a host of third-party Android stores in Asia.

And they’re all imitators of Apple’s hugely successful marketplace.

It’s certainly not perfect – discovery has become a huge issue on the App Store, sparking rising user acquisition costs.

New changes, same old problems

Apple has attempted to make changes to the storefront, completely redesigning it last year,. Arguably the changes have been good and favourable to developers, particularly with the game of the day feature. But some problems like UA costs and general discoverability remain the same.

The App Store may need to reinvent itself further over the next few years however, with the rise of instant gaming.

The threat from chat apps like Facebook Messenger is real, given that’s where users spend the majority of their time. Google Play meanwhile allows instant experiences within Google Play, offering snackable gameplay before downloading the full app.

Apple owns the iOS ecosystem so it won’t go down without a fight, but if it refuses to accept the rise of instant gaming in the chat ecosystem – it does have iMessage games but it pales in comparison to the main App Store – it could quickly find itself looking old and creaky.

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