Game Product Managers Get Ready For Mobile Phones

The next big market for games will be on mobile phones
The next big market for games will be on mobile phones
Image Credit: Vain Shame

At the end of a long day, many people like to go home and spend the evening losing themselves in playing video games on their home entertainment systems. Games for these systems have grown into a big business. In the past, when these people were away from home, they couldn’t play their games. However, that is now starting to change. Videogame product managers are starting extend their product development definition and bring more of their complex, graphics-intense hits for consoles and high-end computers to mobile devices. How can game product managers be successful doing this?

The New Growth Area For Games Is Mobile

One of the largest makers of digital games, Activision Blizzard, launched a new mobile version of its “Call of Duty” series last October and is working on mobile iterations of its popular “Diablo” and “Crash Bandicoot” franchises for mobile platforms. Product managers at Electronic Arts are doing the same for its “Apex Legends,” the company’s breakout PC-and-console hit released last year. Riot Games product managers are getting ready to launch a mobile version of its more than 10 years old computer game “League of Legends.”

This trend comes at a time when demand for interactive entertainment is especially robust due to everyone staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also shows how game product managers are looking to grow their businesses by reaching people who may have never played their biggest titles or have only experienced them on dedicated gaming hardware like the PlayStation or the Xbox. Mobile has proven to be a great business opportunity for the game product managers. Right now mobile is their largest platform in terms of monthly active users.

The games making their way onto mobile devices are taking advantage of advances in graphics and development software as well as memory storage. In some cases they are able to replicate their console and PC counterparts, only with touch-screen controls. Others feature different styles of play and shorter play sessions designed so that people can play during idle moments. Another distinction is that most mobile games are free to download and play, with publishers relying on both advertising and sales of digital perks such as weapons and costumes to eventually generate revenue. This is in contrast to console and PC games where games can cost at least $60 up front.

Next Steps For Mobile Games

In adapting more of their hits for mobile devices, game publishers are targeting a growing portion of gaming industry sales. Since 2017, people have spent nearly as much on smartphone and tablet games annually as they have on their console and PC games combined. It is forecasted that consumer spending on mobile games will reach $77.2 billion this year, compared with $45.2 billion for console games and $36.9 billion for PC games. That kind of spending would represent increases from last year of roughly 13%, 6.8% and 4.8%, respectively. Growth like that would look good on anyone’s product manager resume.

Product managers believe that the mobile market’s growth potential is greater than that of other videogame platforms because game makers may be able to attract many younger consumers who can’t afford consoles. It is also possible that a positive first-time experience with a franchise on a mobile device could drive some consumers to play it on a console or PC. Bringing blockbusters initially designed for large screens to mobile devices can be challenging for product managers to do. In addition to screen-dimension constraints, smartphones and tablets don’t typically come with peripheral equipment like controllers and keyboards. However, advances in software for developing mobile games have made the transition easier.

Ultimately, just about all console and PC games could make their way onto mobile devices thanks to the arrival of cloud gaming. The technology enables games to be streamed to players over any internet-connected device, including smartphones and tablets. Fans of Riot Games’ “League of Legends” have expressed a desire to be able to play the battle-arena game on a mobile device while away from a computer. The coming mobile version of the game will have a smaller map and shorter matches than the original but will maintain the overall look and feel of the “League of Legends” universe.

What All Of This Means For You

If there is one job that seems like a good one to have right now, it would be if you were a game product manager. Video games have been popular for years ever since the Xbox and the Playstation started to arrive in people’s homes. However, a major new market is starting to open up for these product manages: mobile gaming. How can they use their product manager job description to capitalize on it?

Activision, Electronic Arts, and Riot Games are all in the process of moving games that they have released for home systems onto mobile platforms. There are new mobile game markets as more people are staying home. People who have never played games may be new customers going forward. When popular games get moved to mobile devices, how the player interacts with them has to be modified. Product managers are looking at a growing mobile game market. They also believe that they can reach customers who can’t afford more expensive gaming consoles. New technologies, such as the cloud, have made mobile gaming possible.

Product managers always get excited when new markets open up for them. The gaming product managers are discovering that there is an untapped mobile market for them to explore. They believe that through this market they may be able to reach more customers than they ever have been able to before. The challenge for these product managers is going to be to find ways to make the mobile versions of their games as addictive as the console versions have proved to be. If the can accomplish this, then they have a chance to capture a large new market.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What parts of a game do you think should not be changed when it is moved to a mobile platform?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you were a product manager at Walmart’s Sam’s Club, there is one thing that would keep you up at night: Costco. You’d know that your product development definition was broken because the customers that you wanted to come into your Sam’s Club stores all too often were heading over to shop at Costco. The people that you needed to be shopping in your store were well-to-do shoppers who would be willing to spend a lot at your store. However, the people that you were getting were the Walmart customers who traditionally were seeking bargains. This is not going to look good on anyone’s product manager resume. The well-to-do shoppers were all heading over to Costco. What’s a product manager to do?