How the marriage of mobile gaming engines and monetization could play out

Shane Schick

If making mobile games and making money were really like chocolate and peanut butter, life for app developers would be one big bowl of M&Ms. 

The reality is, acquisitions like the one earlier this month of Corona by FusePowered just wouldn't happen. According to a story on VentureBeat, FusePowered is hoping that by owning a very popular mobile gaming engine, developers will be far more interested in deploying its in-app purchase tools or using its mobile ad mediation service from the moment they first conceive of their next title. 

"If you put those things together, that is like chocolate and peanut butter," FusePowered CEO John Walsh told the publication. "It's a combination that we'll see more and more of as this industry consolidates."

That's probably true, but it's not necessarily because developers are buying into this philosophy on their own. More likely, it's becoming harder and harder for those merely enabling the creation of mobile games to generate enough revenue, and probably vice-versa for firms that focus exclusively on app and game monetization. 

There's also the competitive pressure from far larger organizations. Just a week ago, for instance, Microsoft launched Windows Mobile App Ad Mediation, bringing the software juggernaut's offering for developers more in line with the lights of Google, whose AdMob has been one of the leading ways to help apps and games handle their ad inventory problems. 

I wish FusePowered and Corona all the best as they join forces, but would suggest that they and all the others who will inevitably try to bring mobile games and monetization tools closer together to think about the customer experience. Not the customer experience of mobile game users; I know they already say they have lots of expertise on that, including when and how to appropriately serve up a mobile ad or in-app purchase. No, I'm talking about the customer experience of developers, who may want to remain loyal to something like Corona, whose SDK makes their work easier, but aren't ready for the hard sell on IAPs and the like because they want focus on discovery and engagement first. 

There are lots of developers -- not just the really experienced ones -- who understand that generating revenue for their efforts is important. In some cases, though, there's a reason that's a "phase two" of their mobile game's lifecycle. They may be spending time learning about their audience, experimenting with the flow and features of what players do, and want to make sure they have a critical mass that's ready to start spending as well as playing. 

It makes sense that some parts of the mobile game industry would begin consolidating. The trick for FusePowered, Corona and many of the other combinations that will happen over the next year is to make sure that as they bring their offerings closer together, they don't behave in a way that makes app developers move farther away.--Shane