Zynga, East Coast Publishers Talk Strategies at Mobile Gaming USA East

Zynga Mobile New York, GSN Digital, The Tap Lab, and other mobile game publishers gave a glimpse inside their playbooks on getting more revenue from freemium titles at last week’s Mobile Gaming USA East conference.

Chieh Huang, a director with Zynga Mobile NY, said during a panel that game makers can let money slip through their fingers if they do not think long-term. “If you charge for a game upfront and offer no in-app purchases later on, as a lot of premium games do,” he said, “you cap the user value at that initial level.”

The trick is to create more reasons for players to keep spending money as they play, he said. Freemium titles typically let players have a bit of fun at no charge, and then offer additional content, such as power-ups, access to new levels, and other in-game items, for fees. Finding the right balance with such a business model can be critical in the increasingly crowded and competitive mobile app market.

It is easy to presume that the West Coast owns the game industry. However the two-day conference at the New Yorker Hotel was aimed at nurturing the budding East Coast game scene. San Francisco’s Zynga has increased its New York presence in recent years with its acquisitions of Area/Code and “Draw Something” maker OMGPOP. Huang, whose pedigree includes co-founding mobile game developer Astro Ape, said Zynga Mobile New York brought together talent from the other two studios as well as his.

The conference drew other publishers from the metro area, such as PrePlay, DeNA New York, Funtactix, and Majesco Entertainment in Edison, NJ. Finding ways to keep money flowing is a growing concern as free-to-play titles stand poised to overtake paid mobile games in popularity. Huang and his fellow panelists talked about growing revenue through in-game purchases and other virtual goods—but without annoying the players.

It no longer suffices to just make fun or good-looking titles, Huang said. The market needs … Next Page »

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