Mobile gaming is different from traditional consoles in a few ways. For example, the audience on mobile can have a much wider range of skill levels.
Developer Naturalmotion Games discovered just how varied iOS and Android gamers are when it first put out its driving game CSR Racing. The mobile title has players facing off against other gamers in drag races where you don’t have to steer, but you just have to shift at the right time.
The studio wanted to make CSR Racing’s first level very easy so that players wouldn’t give up because they thought the game is too difficult. Naturalmotion put players in a faster car than the computer-controlled opponent and purposefully messed up the A.I. to screw up its shifting.
“[The player] should just plow ahead,” Naturalmotion chief executive officer Torsten Reil said during a talk at the DICE Europe developer conference. “In the first versions of this, we thought, ‘This isn’t a game anymore. This is un-loseable.’”
That wasn’t the case. It turned out that 36 percent of CSR Racing players lost the first game.
“This shows how different this audience can be, especially if you do a mass market game.” said Reil. “CSR is at around 70 million downloads.”
Reil says that if developers can understand that the audience is different, then they can mitigate the risks of appealing to this audience — and that has a lot of benefits.
“If you create a game that [is different] — if you take a risk — you are essentially in a blue ocean,” said Reil.
“Blue ocean” refers to the strategy of branching out from an established market to reach untapped markets and customers.
“You don’t have to compete with other games,” he said. “People will talk about your games because they want to talk about it — because it’s new and newsworthy. You don’t have the issue where you are copying other people’s games where eventually you are all playing in the same playing field and you have to do a lot of user acquisition.”
CSR Racing went to the top of the iOS highest-grossing apps chart. It made $12 million in its first month and is still producing strong revenues, according to Naturalmotion.
Since CSR Racing established the drag-racing genre on mobile phones, other developers are following it including Kabam with its Fast & Furious 6: The Game movie-license title.