With the explosive growth of mobile gaming, and the introduction of new devices like the Apple Watch and Apple TV, the struggle to succeed is greater than ever. Among companies that are reaching forward is MobilityWare, known for popular iPhone games like Solitaire and Blackjack. It also recently released Solitaire for the Apple watch and Android wearables.

[a]listdaily speaks to MobilityWare CEO, Jeff Erle, about the future growth of mobile gaming and how to get ahead.

Jeff Erle headshotMany predict that the mobile games industry will consolidate until only a handful of big companies are in control. What will it take to compete in mobile gaming’s future

Right now in this space, it’s “innovate or die†and the corollary to that is “grow or dieâ€. One way that you can see this is through the rapid power consolidation at the top whereby small and mid-tier players are being squeezed out. That means to compete, this do or die mindset needs to be built into and made part of everything the company does (e.g. strategy, corporate culture). If you aren’t innovating and growing, there are consequences.

Conversely, there is great opportunity because companies in this space are at the nexus of three growing ecosystems: 1) growth of mobile devices, 2) growth of mobile gaming, and 3) growth of mobile monetization (via IAP and advertising). So there’s a lot of opportunity there for a company to ride this tide. This opportunity is so compelling and the timing of it isn’t going to last. 

What do you keep an eye out for when acquiring new talent, IPs, and other assets

This idea of innovate or die forms our growth and acquisition strategy. It’s not just about throwing bodies at the opportunity. We have a strategic goal to build enterprise value and the way to do that is to invest in people (human capital) and acquisitions that help us do this. 

For example, we want to continue to make data something that we can leverage so a lot of hiring new talent has been in this area. We want to buy companies/assets to help us get faster to market (again, comes back to the idea of a grow or die mentality). In order for us to continue to have the next phase of growth we have to do 1 of 2 things (build more aggressively or buy and we’re actually doing both). We have to do both because you can’t plan for or guarantee a hit.

 What will be some of the most important factors to promoting new mobile games

UA will continue to play a big part but new avenues e.g. TV commercials will start to play a bigger part (it already has). As UA costs continue to rise, it’s becoming more important to explore alternative, outside-the-box approaches to promoting mobile games. We’re lucky in that we can cross promote our new titles to a huge existing user base of players currently playing our Solitaire game. Building communities via social media outlets will always be something we will do.

What are some of your marketing goals for 2016

Our key marketing goals for next year are related to the launch of our new games: efficiently acquiring quality new users. However, lots of pieces need to work together to make that happen, for example: Live Ops and Analytics. We recognize that in order for us to aggressively grow in the F2P space, our technology, product and marketing expertise needs to evolve. Too many developers don’t recognize this and release a F2P game without thinking about the proper tools and strategy. We recognized this early on and been working hard to evolve the team and platform in 2015, and we are excited to see it come to fruition in 2016.

Tell us how do you think VR technology might impact mobile gaming

There is no doubt that VR will enable and empower content creators to conceive new, immersive ways to delight mobile gamers. However, content creators will have to think differently about how they engage their players. VR games will likely take on a different shape from how we experience mobile games today. Players will not necessarily be able to ‘play on the go’ or casually consume content with a few minutes to spare. Instead, VR will create engaging experiences that influence most of what we see and we feel. We’ll see premium VR content specifically designed and built for the mobile gamer that craves that immersive experience. As a result, we’ll find ourselves playing games modeled after the ‘real’ world, reimagined for the ‘virtual’.

Ultimately VR will create wonderful new opportunities for content creators to dream big while giving mobile players the ability to experience something new without necessarily giving up what they currently love about mobile gaming today.

How do you think games for wearable devices like the Apple Watch will grow and develop

As Robert Jackson [MobilityWare VP] previously stated in the interview with Re/code, “The mobile game market is about filling your day with quick gameplay sessions. The watch is an even more extreme version of that.”

I think we will see the types of games and apps evolve as platform capabilities also evolve. Currently, gameplay is limited by a number of performance restrictions around memory and asset management. However, Apple is exceptional at continuing to iterate on their platforms I expect the “wow factor†in games will increase as the watch capabilities (and screen dimensions) advance.

With devices like the Apple TV, mobile games are finding themselves in the living room. What are your thoughts about mobile games competing for living room space against traditional consoles and entertainment devices

One of the great things about the Apple eco-system is the connection between devices (desktop > phone > tablet > watch and now TV!) across one OS. Each of these platforms has their own unique strengths and I look at each of them as a challenge for game developers.

Apple TV is an obvious extension of the Phone & Tablet and it’s easy to see someone starting a game on their iPhone and continuing that same game on the TV, or vice-versa. What really excites me about the TV is the ability to make the game experience more social. Imagine cooperative gameplay! Families challenging each other on teams sitting around the living room! Head-to-head gameplay! All of these things were available previously on console, but set-top console boxes can be intimidating to the casual player. Apple TV has the ability to take huge amounts of casual gamers and bring them to the big screen in a way that traditional console devices simply couldn’t before.

In what ways do you think mobile games will continue to grow and change in 2016

Most of the good ideas have been taken, so it’s much harder to deliver little true innovation. It’s no longer good enough to find a better mouse trap you have to figure out a whole new way to trap a mouse.