With hundreds of thousands of apps available in the various app stores, it can be hard for the little guy to break away from the peloton. A recent report published by Flurry Analytics, however, argues that in at least one area of mobile app development, the little guy is sitting pretty indeed.
According to the report, 68 percent of all games played on iOS and Android in the first quarter of 2012 were created by independent developers. Flurry defines “independent developer” as those “who started their businesses on iOS and Android” as opposed to “established gaming companies who extended to iOS and Android from other platforms.” Flurry notes that its numbers are proof positive that the mobile app industry has proved empowering for indie developers, and boldly concludes that Apple and Google have created “the most open, egalitarian market in the history of video games.”
But is the mobile gaming industry really the “great equalizer” they’re cracked up to be? Chris Priestman of Indie Game Magazine is suspicious, noting that as a significant investor in the mobile industry, Flurry itself has quite a bit of skin in the game. Priestman painstakingly parses the terminology in the press release, noting that Flurry is a bit coy when it comes to the specific definitions of “independent” and “established” gaming companies. Flurry includes Electronic Arts, Activision, Ubisoft, THQ “and others” in its “established” category. While companies like Rovio (whose Angry Birds franchise has been downloaded tens of millions of times) or Epic Games’ Infinity Blade (with its production staff of 108 technical advisors, graphic artists, animators, et cetera), would technically be considered “independent” under Flurry’s definition, many would be hard-pressed to refer to them as “the little guy.” Additionally, Flurry’s data doesn’t appear to be based on total downloads, but rather on time spent playing, in which case those of us who spend hours trying to earn that third star on 5-11 of Angry Birds Rio might just be skewing the numbers a tad.
That said, even Priestman is forced to concede that “there is a rise this year in consumers playing indie games,” which is great news for start-ups. So if you have an idea for an Android game, drop us a line!