The gaming market is getting bigger and bigger with every year that passes. From small games like Super Mario and PackMan, to monumental titles like Elden Ring and, more recently, Diablo Immortal, the gaming industry has been on a steady rise since its inception.

According to reports, the global gaming market was worth $198.40 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $339.95 billion by 2027.

However, there’s an even more interesting fact - more than 50% of video gaming revenue comes from mobile games - a whopping $165.9 billion!

It’s no wonder, then, that many entrepreneurs are jumping on the bandwagon, and getting into gaming (or, rather, game development). However, considering the fierce competition, and the costs of developing a game app for iOS and Android you better make sure your game is absolutely amazing if you wish to succeed.

Be that as it may, the figures sure are alluring. But, how do you go about designing a mobile game? What are some of the ins and outs of the industry? What should you pay attention to?

Well, look no further; in this article, we will be covering how to make a game app, the myriad facets of mobile game app development, intricacies of game design, and more.

Let’s dive in.

How Big is Mobile Gaming?

Before you plan to design apps with the limitations and features of mobile devices in mind, it makes sense to check out some stats.

  • The number of mobile app downloads worldwide in 2021 was 230 billion. (Source)
  • In 2021, the Apple app store took a 64 percent share of worldwide consumer spending on app stores, whereas app users downloaded 21.3 billion apps from Google Play. (Source)
  • TikTok is Apple’s strongest revenue generator with $37.66 million. Apple’s third is Honor of Kings, a mobile multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. (Source)
  • In the U.S., time spent on mobile devices has reached 4 hours 29 minutes a day. Projected 2023 mobile social media time is 55 minutes. (Source)
  • The average age of a mobile gamer is 36.3 (in 2014, the age was 27.7). One-third of all players are between the ages of 36-50, and the gender split is 51% female, 49% male. (Source)

The figures show the changing demographics and the reach of mobile gaming apps.

The first step on how to make a game app that’s simple but addictive is to study the market, study your peers, and lay the foundations of your game.

Let’s see how we can do that!

Top-Grossing Mobile Gaming Apps

Image 1. Top-grossing iPhone Mobile Gaming Apps (in the U.S. as of January 2020)

Top Gaming App in the US

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Image 2. Top Mobile Gaming App Titles in the Google Play Store (worldwide as of January 2019)

Top Game Apps Worldwide

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So, how did apps like Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle or Clash of Clans get to the top spots? What is the secret to becoming the top-grossing games?

Here’s a sneak peek on some of their success factors.

Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle managed to reach the summit of top-grossing games with the intense core gameplay, solid monetization, and the driving desire through leveraging the IP, capable messaging with players, and designing meta-shifting content. The Niantic CEO, John Hanke, says that social gameplay is the “heart of the game.”

With Clash of Clans (CoC), the things that worked the best were a unique cast of troops, the emphasis on the characters, and the gaming enthusiasts developing a deep attachment to those characters. It’s no wonder then that though the developers launched the app in 2012 CoC has held on to its position as the top dog in the gaming industry.

CoC is a free-to-play app, but the in-app rewards and events keep the players engaged, and they end up paying a premium.

Now, those are some interesting facts. And the things that made these games so successful? Exceptional game design.

Why is Designing so Important?

When it comes to mobile game apps, proper game design is the most important aspect of your game. To quote the famous UX design guru, Chris Do: “I’d rather have something [design] that is not technically perfect but has a soul”.

Let’s start with some basics, such as how to design a game app for android?

Take a moment and think; what drew you to a game in the first place? The design, of course! You would most probably look at the screenshots of the game to check out its design, the overall game plot, characters, and then game story. These elements are critical, as users who don’t like the model may opt not to install the app.

So, if you have a game idea, you’ll want to plot or draft the game as it emerges, and this is the design. The final product that users download will typically be a part of the design.

What are the pros of an excellent game UX design?

Pros:

  • It can keep gaming enthusiasts engaged for hours.
  • The design inspires gamers to wait for further extensions.
  • The better the design, the higher the pay. So, design takes a lot of credit for the revenue generated from the gaming app.

Working on game design

It is quite evident, as you develop your app, you’ll need to invest a lot of time breathing in life to your gaming user interface. A good design will improve your monetization, retention, user experience, and engagement.

Creating a good UX can be challenging, so keep your game design checklist updated to create a meaningful experience for your users.

As the CEO of Supercell, Ilkka Paananen, says, “the best way to make money in mobile gaming is to stop thinking about making money. Think about fun instead.”

Now, let’s start with game app development.

How to Start the Design & Development of a Gaming App?

Let’s start by building an app from scratch.

1. Understand Yourself

The first step is to understand yourself (your organization). Why is it that you are venturing into the gaming industry? What are you passionate about in gaming? What are your key strengths, and what keeps you motivated?

Here, you can do a SWOT analysis. The inputs will help you to not only look inside your organization to understand your USPs but also to look at the market and understand your competitors.

2. Market Research

Insights from the market facilitates a better understanding of your target audience.

Checking out the top trending gaming apps or visiting the app store and looking at the different categories and genres of games will provide you with key takeaways about what's popular among the gamers, and what brings in the most revenue.

Also Read: Best Strategies to Conduct Market Research for Your Mobile Application Idea

3. Develop An Idea

A good idea sits at the heart of a game app. Ideation is the most critical step to a successful gaming app. You can brainstorm with your team and come up with a killer idea that will keep your users engaged-and-enticed for hours at a stretch.

The good part—a well-planned app can be an instant hit, and you can augment the app with a touch of the latest technologies like AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality).

The equation is quite simple—you first work towards the creation of a great idea and then work towards delivering the perfect gameplay to gaming enthusiasts.

4. Create a Story

A successful game needs a brilliant story. If you create a storyline for your game with a whole world of characters, victory parameters, surprises, fun elements, and rewards, then gamers will laud the gameplay experience.

Once your players get wrapped up in the story, it will only drive them to further levels, keep them inspired, and attract new users.

5. Winning Design

Creating a winning game design could be complicated. The designing team would need to pay attention to detail and breathe in life to the characters, art, and the overall look and feel of the game.

It is critical to blend a good user experience with the graphics and logic of the gameplay. It’s better to take time to work around the design, as a bad design of an app could spell disaster for your company.

On the other hand, an exceptionally fantastic design that dons a simple style could be a significant differentiating factor for your game.

6. Identify Key Platforms

When planning anything on mobile, you would need to think about the platform. The first choice is typically between Android and iOS.

You can also choose to go for a hybrid model. However, you would need to consider the additional costs involved in developing a game for multiple platforms.

7. Build A Monetization Story

A game is a huge investment. You’re investing money not only in your dev team, but in various other talent (like artists and voice actors), as well as hosting. Naturally, you want to see your game succeed, and get a good ROI.

Monetizing your game is always a hard choice. On one hand, you’re concerned about ROI, but on the other, you don’t want to go all Diablo Immoral on your players. You may consider choosing the premium way or freemium model to make money from the app. Some popular ways to achieve this are:

Ads

You can incorporate a pay-per-click revenue model to monetize your game. Using a PPC model is quite popular nowadays, as it generates incredible ROI. According to Google, for every dollar spent on a PPC ad, a company can expect two dollars back!

You would need to be careful with the placement of the ads as they could be annoying and may prove to be counterproductive. You can also allow the user to opt for an Ad-free version.

In-app Purchases

An effective way to earn income from players is to opt for a freemium model. The purchases could account for around 2% in Android and a little more in iOS; still, it is quite useful for mobile game monetization.

Premium versions

You can offer a free trial or a demo, before asking players to opt for premium versions.

You may choose to go with a pay-once model, but that could affect the number of downloads for your game, as people are much more reluctant to pay full price for mobile games.

Typically, only high-quality games with extensive production times and costs from big developers opt for this model.

Pay-per-download

With games with every high investment, you would find this strategy adopted.

8. Decide Technology

Once you have the game idea in place and the platform identified, you would need to plan the design tools and setup the development processes. Native development is a popular choice if you are looking for performance.

Native mobile game development normally involves using languages native to a device platform for coding. So, you may opt for Java for Android or Swift for iOS. You would also find that game development uses web technologies such as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5.

Another handy tool to create games in is Unity 3D, and there are many other tools such as Xamarin, Marmalade, or Cocos 2D. Choosing the right technology can directly affect the performance and usability of your game in the future.

9. Search for A Reliable Development Partner

Choosing a reliable and experienced game app development team, such as Imaginovation, can transform your idea into a digital reality in a true sense. The more complex your gaming idea, you will need experienced developers to back your initiatives. Finding the right developers for your app, designers, and other experts could be the key to your success.

10. Testing is the Key

Game testing is an integral part of mobile gaming. You can choose to hire a QA and beta testers and test your app to fix bugs and solve errors.

Testing at every stage, whether as a prototype or a final product, will ensure a smooth gameplay experience.

11. Support and Maintenance

Once you launch the mobile game, you can plan on support and maintenance for a better experience. Keep on updating your game, as this will keep gamers inspired for new features, new rewards, and new surprises.

Planning every stage of the app development can ensure your final version shaping as reality. So, stick to a systematic approach to development, as this will help deliver a quality app that gaming enthusiasts can enjoy

What Kind of Games Can You Build?

Playing Different Games

With billions of gaming apps for android and iOS, you can start with creating a game app with the audience you choose. Here are some gaming app categories:

Puzzles and Word Games

Sudoku racks high engagement percentage. A study highlights that around 38 million monthly users play puzzles, and such games have a maximum shelf life. Now, that’s interesting!

Simple jigsaw or mathematical puzzles are also very popular, as well as extremely simple to make, and is something that you can always opt for from the myriad gaming options, and be sure you’ll turn a profit.

Strategic games

Games like Clash of Clans (CoC) are very addictive and are proof of popularity. Strategy building can be challenging and fun—the app created can be engaging and also generate good revenue.

Arcade games

Arcade games garner a lot of attention and are popular among gaming enthusiasts. You will need a good storyline and difficulty levels that give you a feeling of competitiveness.

So, start developing your dream game, create a great idea, develop a strategy, and turn your ideation to success.

Build A Successful Mobile Game App with Imaginovation

Your gaming app idea needs to be backed by a systematic approach to development. We at Imaginovation have helped many startups and enterprise businesses to build successful mobile gaming apps.

If you have a game app idea and want to turn your idea into a digital reality, get in touch with us.

Author

Michael Georgiou

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