Is the flood of money into mobile gaming justified?

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It’s been a busy week in mobile — particularly for those of us who attended MobileCON or GigaOM’s Mobilize events — so you may not have noticed two big-money announcements in mobile gaming this week. China’s Chukong closed a “staggering” $50 million round, bringing its total funding to $83 million, and SoftBank and GungHo Entertainment acquired a 51 percent stake in Helsinki’s Supercell for a jaw-dropping $1.5 billion.

Those deals make sense — at least at first glance — because the mobile gaming market continues to soar. The research firm eMarketer has predicted mobile gaming revenues will hit $1.78 billion in the U.S. alone this year, and will reach $3.77 billion by 2017.

But as I’ve written before, the market is largely driven by one-hit wonders and massively successful franchises that support several titles. Cross-platform publishers like EA and Zynga continue to struggle to create compelling mobile games that consistently generate revenues over time, and no mobile publisher or developer has managed to create a portfolio of hits based on multiple franchises. We’re sure to see a publisher emerge to become the first player to truly master the mobile platform. Until then, though, these high-dollar investments seem awfully risky.

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