What to Expect for Mobile From GDC 2017

February 16, 2017

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The annual Game Developers Conference has become the premiere hub of knowledge for experienced and up-and-coming game developers. The expansion of the conference into the mainstream has coincided with the massive growth of mobile gaming on iOS and Android, making GDC the perfect place to top-up on mobile knowledge. Last year’s GDC focused heavily on VR, with the announcement of the PlayStation VR device dominating the show. Even so, many impactful announcements were made for mobile, including the Indie Corner for Google Play, updates and figures for the Unity engine, and marketing insights from major figures at Spry Fox and EA. GDC 2017 promises to be bigger than ever for mobile. Here are some major items to expect when the conference rolls into town this March.

  1. Revenue Forecasting Panel

Revenue forecasting is essential for any business. Without a proper forecast of how much your app could make at both the low and high ends, you won’t have an understanding of whether your app is worth developing in its current state. Mike Gordon from Iron Horse Games (hired developers on Tap Hero, Solitairica and more) will lead a panel on how to forecast revenue for your app. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, this is an essential first step in the development process.

  1. Eastern Expansion

China represents the world’s largest gaming market, with $99.6 billion in revenues last year. A whopping 37% of that money came from mobile games. ZPlay’s Randy Barenscott will lead a session discussing how to work better with developers in China. This includes how and when to work with Chinese publishers, how to improve monetization in Asia, and why Chinese companies want to work with companies in the west. If your company is interested in eastward expansion, this panel could be essential.

  1. Tons of Indie Stories

Independent gaming tends to rule the panels by sheer numbers at GDC, and this year will be no exception. If you are considering going into independent game development on mobile, there are a number of panels you may wish to attend. During multiple Indie Mobile Game Dev Stories panels, you will hear stories from indie studios like PikPok (Rival Stars), Taco Illuminati (Looty Dungeon) and more. Elsewhere, you’ll learn how independent studios can make their mobile games go viral with a limited budget.

  1. Focus on Retention

Mobile developers have long focused on acquiring users, but not as many are as concerned with retaining players. Retention will be a major topic for mobile at this year’s GDC, with Tamalaki Publishing (Shards of Memory) owner Martine Spaans leading a panel specifically focusing on retention tactics. Spaans intends to apply tactics from Tinder and Wish, among others, to the gaming industry. Outside of this panel, expect design workshops to begin emphasizing retention tactics a little more heavily. As GDC approaches, it’s clear that there are numerous important topics for mobile developers to address. This year’s conference should be bigger than ever for mobile games, so if you’re a developer or considering entering the field, pay close attention. Let us know if you'll be headed to GDC this year!

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