Pocket Gamer Connects London 2022: The four mobile gaming trends everyone is talking about

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Pocket Gamer Connects London 2022 marked the return of in-person conferences in an emerging post-pandemic world. The event brought together the largest names in mobile gaming, resulting in a healthy attendance of over 1600 people and 120+ live talks – a prospect that would have seemed more fantasy than reality a year ago. 

From the rise of blockchain gaming to increased protection of user privacy, the mobile gaming landscape has transformed dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic – and what better way to unpack all these changes than at PG Connects. 

From all the sessions, panels and side-conversations at PG Connects, it became clear that thought-leaders in mobile gaming were focused on four key areas:

 

(1) The metaverse, blockchain gaming and NFTs

The concept of the metaverse has been around for quite some time – its roots arguably stretch back to at least 2003 when Second Life was released – but its entrance into the mainstream was truly cemented with Facebook’s rebrand to Meta in October 2021. 

At a very high level, the metaverse is a network of virtual worlds founded on blockchain technology. The impacts of the metaverse (and everything that comes with it i.e. NFTs, cryptocurrency payments etc.) on mobile gaming were heavily speculated upon at PG Connects, only time will tell!:

  • What will user acquisition look like in the metaverse? 
  • Will AR be preferable to VR? 
  • Where will the branding opportunities be? 

 

(2) Increased user privacy

Measures to increase user privacy have become more prominent over the years, but Apple’s IDFA deprecation in the Spring of 2021 and Google’s plan to remove third-party cookies by 2023 are clear indications that large companies are taking seriously the need to protect user privacy.  

Though there are some benefits to us all as users, privacy changes present a serious challenge to mobile gaming marketers. With limited tracking on user behavior and less granular data, it seems marketers face a bleak and gloomy future in the App-ocalypse . At PG Connects, SVP of Bango Audiences, Brett Orlanski, detailed various ways app marketers can not only survive but thrive in the App-ocalypse:

  • Use predictive models from the users who do opt-in to Apple’s app tracking transparency prompt, to assess the performance of campaigns and help guide marketing efforts
  • Place more emphasis on testing and optimizing the creatives in ad campaigns to counterbalance the effect of less data on automated campaign optimization
  • Use purchase behavior targeting to supercharge your ad campaigns and show your ads to the people who are most likely to buy 

 

(3) Ethical advertising

More than ever, advertisers are focusing on creating effective ads that do not disrupt the user experience. This sentiment of the growing movement towards authentic, non-intrusive ads is echoed by various advertising platforms – most notably TikTok with their slogan “Don't Make Ads. Make TikToks.”

In the gaming industry, in-app advertising (IAA) is one avenue of app monetization and, given the shift towards ethical advertising, mobile ads are being reimagined to enhance the player experience rather than detract from it. Thought-leaders in mobile advertising at PG Connects considered innovative player-centric ad formats that could be used:

  • Audio-only ads
  • Rewarded video
  • In-game billboard advertising

 

(4) Industry consolidation through M&A

Looking back over the past couple years, a huge amount of consolidation has happened in the gaming industry – EA’s acquisition of Glu mobile for $2.1Bn, Netmarble’s acquisition of SpinX for $2.2Bn and Take Two’s acquisition of Zynga for $12.7Bn are just a few examples illustrating the sizable wodges of cash on the table for those companies that make it. 

Thoughts at PG Connects turned to what was driving this acquisition boom:

  • The attractiveness of mobile gaming market has increased due to increased user spend in games since the beginning of the pandemic
  • Gathering first-party data through acquisition is more and more important in an era of increasing privacy measures
  • Smaller companies are more willing to sell when competition in the mobile gaming space is dominated by large players who are difficult to dethrone

Keep an eye out for the recording of Brett's session at PGC - Thriving in the App-oclaypse. By profiling the apps that thrived in 2021, those that somehow scaled their paying user base to tens of thousands of daily paying users, we identified the strategy and tactics that drove their success. Hear from Bango Audiences and the app marketers themselves in this joint presentation to learn how to grow your paying user base in one of the most challenging times in mobile app growth marketing....recording coming soon!

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