If 2014 was the year of Flappy Bird, who knows what 2015 will be! However there were some really important trends that emerged in the course of 2014, trends we believe will begin to define mobile gaming on a much larger scale in 2015. We’ve assembled our guesses for what will be the most important and influential trends in 2015—read on!
#1: Simplicity is sophistication
In 2015, with a few notable exceptions, mobile games will become much simpler. As games become more polished and beautiful, we will see the “iPodification” of mobile gaming, with designers coming first and foremost. Minimalism is in, in a big way, and that will drive the mobile aesthetic.
Graphics and gameplay will become stylized and simplified, with simple goals, controls, and a gentle learning curve that doesn’t alienate casual gamers. This lowers the entry barrier and reduces development costs, but also helps to future-proof your games. By focusing on style rather than realism, game developers can ensure that their game looks great for years to come.
#2: Music is not optional
On the other hand, where developers start to reduce development costs in graphics, they will increase them in music composition. Real composers will find their place in mobile games—people already have their headphones in, so why not use them. Games with interesting, immersive audio and music will become the norm, allowing players to escape from their commute into an mesmerizing world full of lifelike and interesting sounds.
#3: Freemium is here to stay
One of the larger innovations to head mainstream in 2014 was the proliferation of the “freemium” business model, allowing developers to skirt the reduced-downloads of paid games by offering in-game purchases. This allows gamers to get hooked on the free game, then prompted to spend money. Freemium also offers a longer-term return instead of just a one-time revenue game. By constantly rolling out new content for purchase, games can continue to produce revenue long after they’re initially downloaded.
#4: All Social Everything
“You have a new high score, want to share it with your friends?” Get used to this question—in 2015, games will truly embrace social. In the future, whenever you start a game you will be swept into a world that includes your friends who are also playing this game. Mobile games will become multi-player in a lot of ways, whether it’s setting up games and competing with your friends using Apple’s social gaming platform Game Center or simply playing online-only games like Words With Friends, where the multi-player is less explicit, but more implicit (there is no single player play in Words With Friends).
#5: Indie Games will continue to be important
One of the most important aspects of mobile gaming is the increased visibility of indie games. Unlike console and computer games, mobile games have much smaller development costs, allowing just about anyone to finance a game if they have the right skills. This allows new players into the market, increasing competition and innovation. There are no wrong ideas here!
Mobile Gaming is a chaotic market
Mobile gaming is such a new industry that it has yet to stabilize itself. Huge innovation is still possible, and industry players should count on being disrupted. It’s going to be an interesting year, buckle up!
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch.