Article: App Gaming Expansion & Franchises

Global smartphone apps icons splash

As mobile gaming markets continue to expand, we’re starting to see something very interesting in app markets: franchises and gaming series. Once upon a time, mobile phone games and even the app markets were largely limited to individual games and simple arcade experiences. However, as major gaming companies and independent developers alike find success with certain games, we’re beginning to see those games becoming larger entities through sequels, adaptations, and even pop culture influence. Here are a few examples.

App Game Sequels

The clearest and most common example of app games becoming bigger than themselves is in the explosive market for sequels. Currently, options like The Room Two and Super Stickman Golf 2 are some of the most popular options in app stores, but sequels go back further than these relatively recent releases. In 2013, Plants Vs. Zombies 2 was viewed as a massive improvement on an original game that was already beloved. It is now seen as one of the best free games available (as its in-app purchases aren’t necessary to make the game fun). Meanwhile, franchises like Angry Birds and several others have already spawned entire series of sequels and adaptations!

Arcade-To-App Adaptations

Often the best gaming experiences are completely original in app form. In fact, many examples come from independent developers, who generally take the time to create unique, perfected experiences, rather than simply rehashing common gaming themes to turn a profit or get gamers addicted. However, the arcade-to-app adaptation trend has been interesting as well in creating some of the biggest and most popular app gaming experiences. Consider games like the Bloons tower defense series at Ninja Kiwi, or the cult favourite Robot Unicorn Attack, both of which have made successful transitions to the app markets. These games get the advantage of growing as apps with enormous player bases already established from their time on arcade sites.

App-To-Arcade Adaptations

This is perhaps the most interesting development we’ve started to see. Some app games are growing so popular that they now feature online versions (rather than vice versa). The easiest examples are the numerous apps available on Facebook, but they’re popping up elsewhere as well—even on gambling sites, where app adaptations can be used in real money games. At Betfair’s Arcade site, most fans come for the live poker and gaming options that simulate the casino experience. However, at the same site’s arcade section you can now find a brand-new adaptation of the popular app game Peggle in slot machine form! This is certainly a trend to watch with popular app games as online casinos continue to become more mainstream.

Pop Culture Connections

Finally, it’s also worth noting that some of the most significant gaming apps have close ties to pop culture, which works both ways. The Angry Birds franchise, for example, has spawned entire apparel and product lines to create, essentially, an entertainment company that started with an app. Going the other way, popular film and characters now effortlessly take advantage of app markets, as seen in the huge range of film-based gaming apps. Simply put, the biggest and best apps tend to have close ties to other elements of gaming, entertainment, and pop culture, and it all contributes to the app market’s overall growth.

Jim Smale

Gaming since the Atari 2600, I enjoy the weirdness in games counting Densha De Go and RC De Go as my favourite titles of all time. I prefer gaming of old where buying games from a shop was a thing, Being social in person was a thing. Join me as I attempt to adapt to this new digital age!

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