SuperScale surveyed more than 500 mobile game companies about their projects.
Image Credit: SuperScale
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The mortality rate for mobile games is 83%, meaning that percentage of games will die off within three years, according to research by SuperScale.
The company, which provides monetization for mobile games, said its study of 500 game developers also found that 43% of games perish during their development phase. Ivan Trancik, CEO and Founder of SuperScale, said in an interview with GamesBeat that is both “staggering” and “alarming.”
The Good Games Don’t Die white paper, published today by SuperScale, exposes the significant challenges prevailing in contemporary mobile game development.
Atomik Research did the interviews with 500 game developers across the United Kingdom and the United States on behalf of SuperScale. The report’s revelations portray a grim landscape where despite the industry’s high failure rate, a considerable 78% of mobile game developers continue to lean towards creating new titles, leading to a perplexing scenario within the $96.2 billion global mobile games industry.
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Atomik Research did the survey in October.
“The dilemma that gaming CEOs face right now is twofold. First of all, so you have hired people and you built a company, probably based on some really brilliant creative people that were there to really make a great game,” Trancik said. “Even if you’re lucky enough to actually do it, the next project will face headwinds. It’s never easy. You have to retain your top talent, delivery great service on both your flagship games and your long tail of games or legacy portfolio.”
Monetizing mobile games: 62% of developers are using LiveOps in their most profitable titles, and 37% of studios update their most profitable titles weekly with less than half pushing out monthly updates.
Game failure and success: 43% of games in development are killed before they launch, 76% of launched games hit peak revenue within year one, 83% of mobile games die within three years and a mere 5% receive support beyond seven years.
Trancik noted that most hypercasual games are designed to last just a few months, and so it’s not a tragedy that they don’t last three years, as they monetize as much as they can during a short life. But it is tough when games are intended to last for the long haul and they peter out early. And even good games fizzle out over time. But the handful of titles that last 10 years are usually extremely engaging.
This trend coincides with broader industry challenges, including global economic downturn, which resulted in over 7,000 developers facing layoffs in 2023. The report notes a significant downturn in within the sector, with 32% of mobile game developers experiencing layoffs and nearly a quarter nearing the brink of business shutdown. I asked if Trancik knew how many layoffs there have been in mobile games, but he didn’t get that data from the survey.
Beyond the stark statistics lie poignant human impacts, ranging from diminished motivation, increased risk aversion, to an amplified commercial focus. The study highlights how game cancellations led to creative unfulfillment among 30% of junior developers with less than a year of experience.
Unveiling the untapped potential within these “legacy games”—titles that have ceased receiving regular updates or investments—SuperScale’s white paper delves into opportunities that these games could present for developers and publishers. On average, a mobile gaming portfolio comprises 18 such legacy games, opening avenues for further commercial exploration.
Trancik said it isn’t just the small game companies that have a high failure rate with mobile games.
“Big studios also have trouble launching new games,” he said. “Whether you’re big or small, your chances of success are low. It’s a cautionary tale.”
Trancik emphasized the necessity for a new industry mindset, stating, “83% of games flat-lining within the first three years is an eye-opening statistic, indicating a need for a paradigm shift within the industry. The ‘Good Games Don’t Die’ white paper serves as a wake-up call, equipping developers and publishers with actionable insights on maximizing revenue across their portfolio—be it for new or existing games.”
Trancik further stressed the industry’s obligation to re-examine the potential of existing game content, urging reflection on revitalizing these games.
The study’s key findings emphasize the impact of global recessionary pressures, the evolution of monetization methods, and the perpetual struggle between passion and profit in the gaming industry.
Founded in 2015, SuperScale helps video game developers and publishers of all sizes maximize revenue through predictive analytics, monetization, marketing and other services aimed at driving games’ commercial success. The company, which has offices in Slovakia, the United Kingdom and Poland, has supported over 150 mobile titles, generating more than two billion downloads worldwide.
Trancik said that the company believes that every game can reach its full potential based on how much attention the game company pays to analyzing its opportunities and proper monetization.
“We saw that there are legacy games that still have a lot of players organically playing them, but nobody wants to invest in those old games anymore for different reasons,” he said. “We see potential in these games that nobody wants to invest in.”
His firm ran an experiment with one game, Tony Tower, and managed to bring it back to record revenue 11 years after it was published.
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