SAN FRANCISCO — The man in charge of one of the most popular game-creation tools in the world prefers chaos over order.
Unity chief executive officer David Helgason thinks the industry, especially on mobile, is too static. Helgason, who oversees the company that makes the Unity game-building engine (and is also the subject of acquisition talks), spoke about a variety of topics onstage at the GamesBeat 2014 conference. He explained that he isn’t happy to see the same companies, like King and Supercell, at the top of the top-grossing charts on iOS and Android month after month.
“There used to be a lot more turnover in the top rankings,” said Helgason. “I think it’s a sad thing [that it isn’t like that anymore].”
King, which makes the popular puzzle game Candy Crush Saga; and Supercell, which created casual strategy title Clash of Clans, have held the top spots on the iTunes App Store and Google Play since 2012. Helgason notes that the two companies haven’t necessarily done that by creating better games but through “various means” like aggressive spending on advertising and acquiring new players.
“As a friend [of the people at Supercell], I wish them the best,” said Helgason. “But as an industry person, I hope they drop like a fly. It’s better when the industry gets shaken up.”
Despite Helgason’s desire for rankings upheaval, he’s still positive about the industry overall.
“It’s easy to forget that the entire pie has grown so large that even a top-30 spot can be very good,” he said. “We see games with new characteristics, they can find their way up there.”
To compete with those companies and their multimillion-dollar marketing budgets, Helgason suggested two things that every developer should do: Use analytics and provide players with sharing tools.
“The most popular analytics engine in the world is nothing,” said Helgason. “If something happens, developers aren’t seeing it.”
Proper analytics can help studios understand how players are engaging with a game. Helgason thinks studios need to use that data to help increase the stickiness of their game.
For social sharing, the executive pointed to Unity’s own acquisition of the startup Everyplay, which enables players to record and share video clips of mobile games. This option increases the potential for a game to go viral, and — like analytics — very few developers are taking full advantage of technology like this.