It's no secret that the app market is positively booming. But while retailers may feel like the mobile gaming market excludes them, there are actually plenty of products out there to help them cash in on the success of titles like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.
A recent report from Juniper Research has forecast that in 2017, over 160 billion apps will be downloaded globally onto consumer smartphones and handsets, with at least 40 per cent of these being games.
So, while casual mobile gaming looks set to continue to snowball, developers are realising that there’s a demand for merchandise for their popular titles – and retailers are seeing the opportunities as well.
Leading the way in terms of popular gaming apps is Angry Birds, which is now a major global brand with a huge range of merchandise, including speaker docks, smartphone and tablet cases, headphones and USB sticks.
Angry Birds has proved so successful that it has actually branched into physical game sales. Distributed by Focus Multimedia, boxed versions of the franchise are available for retailers to stock.
“The Angry Birds games have been extremely well received by retailers and consumers,” Alan Wild, brand manager for PC at Focus Multimedia, tells PCR.
“It’s not easy to develop a game with the mass appeal and brand identity of this magnitude.”
Wild explains that the response from retailers regarding a boxed version of the app was positive and the distributor would certainly consider dealing with other products from other mobile games in the future: “There’s certainly a lot of success to be had with the right games and products.”
Dixons is one of those retailers selling Angry Birds through its stores. “We’ve had some success with Angry Birds and other licensed products,” says Simon Urquhart, Category Manager for PC Gaming, Components and Upgrades at Dixons Retail.
“The shift of casual gamers from home games consoles to mobile platforms is the obvious reason for the success of these licences.
“Simple, tried and tested game formulas can be rebadged and rebranded into fun games that are perfect for these platforms. Angry Birds is a great example of this and Rovio have expertly marketed the game to retain and grow their fanbase,” adds Urquhart.
It’s not just Angry Birds that has made its way from a game into physical products. Temple Run has official phone cases and iPad and Kindle sleeves, Fruit Ninja has an official line of iPhone cases, and other titles such as Cut The Rope and Candy Crush Saga have numerous cases, stickers and accessories.
There’s more than app-branded merchandise for retailers to stock and cash in on the mobile gaming boom.
There’s an array of products on the market designed to give mobile devices a console controller-style feel, such as iCade’s controller case and Targus’ suction based control pad.
Bruce Hawver, CEO of SteelSeries, even tells PCR that the firm believes its Touch Screen Controls provide users with a higher level of quality and better performance than using just the screen: “They are a great value for consumers who prefer to feel a tactile button press versus just hitting the screen.
“Several people even just in our office have smashed their high scores on games like Temple Run once they started using our Touch Screen Controls.”
Brian Trevaskiss, head of marketing at More Computers, points out some another avenues retailers can go down to bring mobile gamers into their stores.
“There’s a need for extra battery life and we sell several external batteries, including 4World’s external battery for iPhone 5 and Verbatim’s portable power pack,” he says. “Based purely on the state my own phone comes back in when my kids have been playing games on it, I’d say the most essential mobile gaming accessory is a cleaning cloth!”