Mobile technology has also revolutionized the gaming business model. Where Halfbrick used to be solely dependent on its distributors for sales, it now has a variety of revenue channels: selling games outright, giving away free games that are supported by in-game advertisements, and selling virtual goods within games themselves. Deo says that in-game purchases now account for 60 percent of Halfbrick’s revenue.
Just as going mobile gives game developers more control over revenue, it also puts them in charge of marketing, formerly a job for third-party publishers who license titles from developers and then take responsibility for promoting a game and getting it into stores. “Development is 50 percent,” Deo says, “but if you want to be successful, promotion takes up just as much resources. We have to build relationships with the press and platform holders. We need to build trailers and viral videos. We have to do community management to make sure we’re supporting and cross-promoting.”
The extra trouble is more than offset, Deo believes, by the opportunity to innovate in a burgeoning market. What he finds most exciting is the nexus of mobile, social, and cloud computing, which could allow users of future games to create their own levels and share them with other fans. Still, even as the technology becomes capable of delivering richer, more complex experiences, Deo remains committed to casual games: simple, direct, addictive entertainment.