Why Instant Games will kill the App Stores in 2017
(I presented this talk – named “Ready for Takeoff: Why HTML5 Instant Games will disrupt the App Stores in 2017” – on 08.02.2017 during Casual Connect Europe 2017)
It may be hard to believe but the app boom is finally over – after almost a decade of massive growth.
In 2016 apps started to eat themselves.
Despite the fact users are spending more time in their apps, the growth in some app categories happened at the expense of others.
So happened with Games as time spent declined in 2016 – while social networking and messaging apps had a great year!
This points to the end of the app gold rush.
There are too many apps available while the resource “user time” is limited.
As a result only the biggest app developers can succeed, and even then only with enormous amounts of marketing dollars.
There are tons of other problems caused by the traditional store-based approach, like, long release cycles, low retention and small revenue opportunities for the majority of the developers.
It’s time to disrupt that traditional store-based approach!
Let us look back to the numbers:
It seems what users really want from their phones is what they were made for – communicating with other users.
Social media and chat apps account for more and more time spent on mobile.
Apple understood this and opened up their communication tool iMessage to developers with the release of iOS10.
This opened up a new distribution channel for apps that can make communication between users richer – with mainly stickers but also games and much more.
Since the launch you can use extra features of other apps, you can do it all in one place – without ever leaving the iMessage app. Theoretically.
And so far, users are thrilled: iMessage app installs are skyrocketing!
It’s hard to estimate right now if the hype is going to last in 2017 but I assume the current trend won’t last very long. If Apple doesn’t change the user experience…
Right now, upon receiving a message from my friend, I can click on it but – if I have not installed the app – there is an additional barrier built in: I am forced to download the app first. Basically you’re spamming your friend’s conversation thread with download-links, which always leads them to the app store. Reminds me a bit to the early days of Facebook …
Anyways, after I downloaded the app I have to find the way back to the conversation with my friend. I have to click on the invite-image again to start the app. That’s not convenient and a good user experience with too many unnecessary steps involved.
I want to consume content instantly without having to download and install anything. Simplicity is the key. Users want easy solutions and instant access.
Apple has made it simple for developers to build for the platform, but there is a substantial awareness and usage problem on the user side mainly due to the lack of simplicity.
iMessage is all about peer to peer interactions. This means that Apple should remove the biggest friction of the app store: the Download & Install process itself.
When I receive a link from a friend I should click on it and the app should start running instantly, without the need of an install.
iMessage apps will be more successful when the whole usage will be more simple. Simplicity will be the trend for 2017 and it will disrupt the app stores.
Apple shouldn’t be afraid of it!
Other major Messengers also understood their power to create an alternative app distribution platform.
The 4 billion user opportunity
In 2016 Facebook Messenger, Kik, Twitter, Skype, Line, Telegram and Viber opened up their own chatbot frameworks to developers.
Unlike apps bots offer instant access to services such as games. Users don’t have to download, install and register across different apps. Users can stay within the messaging app that they already love and trust while using the services.
Bots unfortunately didnt take off so far. One of the biggest challenges is still discovery. Simplicity is also here the key! And that’s not the case right now.
However, this year, messaging platforms will optimize their products so they can’t be ignored.
In July 2016 during Casual Connect in SanFrancisco I predicted the combination of Chatbots with HTML5 will be the future.
At the end of 2016 Facebook Messenger and Blackberry Messenger (BBM) created with “HTML5 Instant Games” a fluid and simple process which goes a step further while following the simplicity rule: Users can easily discover, consume and share high-quality gaming content directly where they are talking about it.
Users click on an invite or within the in-chat menu to play a game instantly – no need to download and install it through the App Store anymore.
Instant Games are ready to challenge iOS and Android as serious distribution platforms in 2017.
This is the most important shift in distribution model in the recent times.
Giving users instant access to apps, delivered wherever and however they want, is the next necessary phase of mobile, and will disrupt the ecosystem for app developers, platforms, device makers and carriers.
And it is the ultimate chance for the messengers to keep users forever within their social networks. As you can do everything there – more and more of your time should be within your favorite messenger. You don’t have to leave your comfort zone anymore.
We can expect other popular social platforms and messengers to follow the footsteps soon.
The technology behind Instant Games is HTML5. The performance of phones and tablets is finally good enough to run high quality content like games in browsers.
SOFTGAMES has build for Blackberry Messenger (BBM) its instant games platform featuring over 400 competitive games where u can compare your progress with your friends and compete against other players in leaderboards.
Further SOFTGAMES has been chosen as one of 17 launch partners of Instant Games within Facebook Messenger.
With Instant Games users can challenge their friends by simply sending them an invitation within the Messenger. Users click on the invite to play and the game starts instantly – no need to download anything through the App Store. This boosts engagement, retention and virality.
For “Tower Match” we took a well-known game concept and added some platform specific features that had a great impact on the game and made it much more viral and engaging. I can see the progress of my friends instead of just playing against a score.
Biggest mobile gaming revolution since the App Store launch.
We can expect other game modes will be released soon like co-operative or even multi-player games as they offer another fun way to keep in touch with friends and family.
Game developers need to think about innovative ways to fuel viral spread of instant games among players while also having an entirely new audience in mind that is currently not involved with playing games inside the messenger. That audience I’m talking about is still using the app store to discover new games. But how to reach the remaining 4 billion users of Messengers?
Gaming is the second most popular activity on mobile next to “Messaging” in many markets. Four out of five smartphone owners have played a game on their device and nearly half of the adults play games on a daily basis. The opportunity is huge!
HTML5 Instant Games will change an entire industry, but it may take time as we have to change the way how people get to apps. We have to educate them on their pain point. How bad is it to download and install apps from a store, and how much easier would it be to play within their messenger.
I still believe App Stores will remain a good tool for app discovery, but social discovery through Messengers will make a larger impact.
Looking back to Flappy Bird’s success, it wasn’t the mechanics of the App Store that brought Flappy Bird to the masses.
It was the social effect of Facebook and Twitter.
The App Store merely served as a source for downloads!
Let’s finish with some predictions for 2017.
- HTML5 Instant Games will evolve from simple casual games to more complex ones while taking full advantage of the viral features of the messengers.
- This will result in a new business model for HTML5 Instant Games: F2P in combination with rewarded ads.
- Proper Monetization will lead to a very healthy eco-system for developers and messengers by end of 2017.
Let us change the way how users will consume games or content in general! Instantly inside messengers or apps without any download or install.
Let the revolution begin!
New BBM Games Provides Users Access to a Stunning Collection of 400+ Instant Games Creative Media Works, a stand-alone consumer-focused social networking business operating as BBM, has partnered with SOFTGAMES, the world’s largest producer and distributor of HTML5 instant games to power BBM Games with an impressive and engaging collection of over 400 competitive, casual, […]
“2016 is the year of messaging,” said Alexander Krug, CEO and founder of Softgames. “Messaging is about to become the new platform, and chatbots are becoming the new apps.” Messaging apps are about to become meta-platforms featuring all sorts of services besides messaging. For example, in the future you will not leave your chat app […]