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Why Mobile Mattered at GDC 2015: The View from Bryan Buskas

Posted Mar 6, 2015

Virtual reality may have been the hot topic at this year’s GDC, but for Bryan Buskas, our SVP of performance ad sales, the bigger trend was a shift taking place in the physical world: An increased emphasis on gameplay that flowed across devices like PCs and consoles, to mobile.

“More than any year in the past, mobile is taking center stage, just in terms of its global reach,” he said. “A year or two ago, if you looked at Call of Duty, there were a few mobile apps to level up your player, or engage with the game when you weren’t in front of the TV. Now we’re seeing a lot more [connections to] casual and social gaming. There’s going to be a lot more cross-platform, but also more cross-device activity going on.”

From Console, to Tablet, to Smartwatch?
Buskas said developers at this year’s conference were also focused on understanding how device proliferation – including things like smart watches – will affect the playing experience. There’s increased interest in figuring out how to best allow users to interact with a game across different devices over the course of a day.

“If I’m at home playing Clash of Clans, I might do my raids and build defenses and strategy,” he said, by way of example. “The question is – what can I do during the day on a wearable device to keep me engaged, like maybe getting an alert about an upcoming raid?”

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Before someone adds an “M” for “mobile” in front of GDC, though, Buskas sees some challenges ahead. There are obviously millions of apps in the major app stores already, and some publishers are not only using paid search and social media, but even traditional TV advertising – particularly during major events like the recent Super Bowl.

“For indies, that creates a challenge of how to compete with the dollars and amount of marketing that the biggest, top-grossing apps of the world are being driven by,” he said.

This, of course, is where video comes in, a subject that was also widely discussed at this year’s GDC as a way to evolve beyond display or interstitial ads, according to Buskas.

“As games get richer and you have tablet games that rival the graphics of PC and even console games, video will be the best way to drive distribution and engagement with your app,” he predicted. It keeps the content free, but it also helps the developer monetize in a way that’s much more meaningful than the interstitials have done in the past.”

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Photo credits: GDC Official Flickr

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