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  • The State of Game Development: Part 1

    - Brandon Sheffield

  • Social and mobile platforms and tech

    Speaking of casual developers, we also did a survey specifically for them, focused on what technology they're using. This section is all from a survey done in May 2012, which makes it a bit more recent. But social and mobile games move a lot faster than the traditional industry, so we're likely still a fair bit behind the curve with this data. Let's look at engines and middleware first.

    Figure 8: Mobile engines used.

    As Figure 8 shows, 53% of mobile game developers are using Unity right now. We can compare that to our old stat from Figure 5, when 26% of casual developers were licensing Unity. The audience isn't completely the same, because Figure 5 was all casual developers, and figure is only mobile, but you can still see that there's been a huge uptake in use of Unity in mobile games.

    Figure 9: Cross-platform engine use.

    When choosing engines, Figure 9 shows us that mobile game developers don't seem to care about cross-platform very much. They want engines to work across various mobile devices, sure, but they're not looking for something that will port to web, console, PC, and so forth.

    Figure 10: Top 5 middleware libraries across mobile and social.

    When you look at the top middleware used (Figure 10), you'll note that the top 4 are all physics middleware, and all free to use. We'll talk more about free tools in just a bit.

    When it comes to analytics, for dissecting what players are doing in their games, most responders roll their own solutions. Specifically, 57.4% of social developers and 47.5% of mobile developers do that. For social game developers that licensed a tool for analytics, Kontagent was the most popular, with 20.4% of developers using it - but many of them noted that they disliked the high pricetag. Mobile game developers meanwhile used Flurry, with 29.3% of responders using the service.

    We also gathered that most developers in this field aren't working with publishers right now. Only 17.7% of survey responders said they were working with a publisher or distributor currently, but 57.4% said they would consider doing so in the future. These developers seem most interested in working with publishers or distributors when reaching new markets.

    Figure 11: Social game tech.

    Looking at social game tech specifically, one huge takeaway is a rather obvious one - Facebook and dedicated web sites are far and away the biggest platforms. That said, we have seen more companies saying they don't want to rely on Facebook since we did this survey. Amazon is the clear winner in terms of server locations, followed by developers running their own, and for server tech, MySQL is still the reigning champion. We also discovered through this survey that 58.2% of social game devs use in-game ads as their primary driver of revenue.


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