Users quickly get bored of apps and move on. So what will developers have to do to keep on keepin' on?

Mobile gaming has exploded in popularity with the release of smartphones and tablets in recent years, but what are developers to do when users get bored with their casual games and that flame fizzles out?

That's the question many mobile game developers are currently trying to answer. While some have launched game apps that are hits, it's difficult to maintain that popularity -- and that popularity is the key to that mobile gaming company's livelihood.

The problem is that users get bored with a certain game app over time, since the number of app developers (thus, app choices) is much higher than back in 2007 when the first iPhone was released. Users have a large amount of app choices, meaning they can easily get bored with one app and move to another.

Another issue is that many game developers sell their app for free through either Apple's App Store or Google Play and depend on in-app purchases to make money. But over time, users tire of in-game purchases in order to progress in the game. Not everyone wants to open their wallets constantly just for items in a game. 

OMGPOP, which developed the game app "Draw Something," is the perfect example of a failed mobile app company that skyrocketed to fame and then came crashing down. Over a year ago, the company had peaked to 14.5 million players and even attracted gaming company Zynga. Zynga bought OMGPOP for $180 million, and the number of users fell month after month to the point where Zynga was forced to close down its New York-based studio and lay off the OMGPOP team. 

So with all this trouble, why are mobile game developers sticking with the business? The answer: mobile is continuing to grow rapidly.

According to David Cole, an analyst at research group DFC Intelligence, revenue from games on mobile devices is expected to increase about 38 percent to $8 billion in 2013 and hit $20 billion in 2018. 

With this kind of growth in sight, app developers are now searching for new ways to keep customers onboard longer. For instance, EA is using data analytics to keep an eye on its players' gaming patterns and behavior; Noodlecake, a Canadian indie gaming company known for "Zombie Road Trip," is launching loyalty programs that offer daily virtual currency rewards for first-time and frequent players, and DeNA, a Japanese gaming company, is making adjustments to its games depending on what players do -- right on the spot. 

Even Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, said 45 percent of its revenue now comes from merchandise like stuffed animals and shirts. 

Mobile games now account for 9 percent of overall gaming industry revenue. Mobile games have an edge over console games, for instance, because mobile games are cheaper and can be played anywhere at anytime. 

Just last week, gaming company Zynga announced that it is laying off 18 percent of its workforce (or about 520 employees) by August 2013. It currently has about 2,900 employees. The latest layoffs will affect all parts of the social gaming company, and San Francisco-based Zynga will even have to close its offices in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York. 

The layoffs are expected to save Zynga about $70 million to $80 million.  

Source: Reuters

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