GDC 2016 Highlights for Mobile Apps

March 26th, 2016

GDC 2016 Highlights for Mobile Apps
Anh Nguyen

by Anh Nguyen

COO & Co-Founder at Gummicube, Inc

There is a lot for mobile marketers and gamers to be excited about as 2016 unfolds! With a whopping 41% of apps downloaded in 2015 being game apps, mobile marketers wishing to capitalize on the latest trends within the app economy would do well to pay attention to current mobile gaming trends and habits. Many of these trends were highlighted and discussed at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC), held in San Francisco. The conference was attended by approximately 30,000 persons (including gamers, marketers and hangers on) and was streamed online. We feature some of the major highlights of GDC 2016 below. GDC 2016 highlights mobile marketers should make note of Some of the significant emerging ad and mobile technology trends to watch in 2016, as announced at the GDC 2016, include: 1. Virtual Reality (VR) taking center stage Unsurprisingly, VR was hands down the hottest topic at GDC 2016. VR for mass market consumption has been a development issue on the mobile gaming table seemingly forever. Well, the wait is finally over, as October 2016 is expected to be the time of unveiling. As far as the practical application of the feature is concerned, the following can be expected:

  • The official bringing to market of Virtual Reality hardware wearables from leading mobile brands PlayStation (unveiled as PSVR at a cost of US399), Oculus, Sony and HTC
  • Entrance of other players into the VR gaming market after PSVR becomes more mainstream
  • Ongoing experiments regarding an all-in-one VR headset unit, fitted with all the best hardware trimmings

2. New features in Google Play designed to benefit independent game developers One of the GDC's most talked about announcement was that of an Indie Corner coming to the Google Play Store. The Indie Corner is a curated list that features the top independent games, and the feature provides yet another avenue for independent mobile game developers to extend their reach and attract more players. Criteria that will be used to decide which games make the cut are:

  • Whether or not the game is interesting
  • Stability
  • Originality
  • Good utilization of Google Play Games Service
  • Small team size, not exceeding 15 people
  • Overall high game quality

3. Mobile game marketing insights from leading industry players Leading mobile game developers such as Uken Games, EA Games and Spry Fox dropped a lot of unconventional mobile gaming marketing wisdom on the GDC attendees on the very first day of the conference. The same included:

  • The development of an automated analytics system designed to detect click-based fraud and prevent 'visible cheating' (Uken Games)
  • The introduction of rare events and collectibles with in-game functions that are tangible, and "bear speak" mechanic, geared at increasing active users and increasing retention rates -- both of which jumped (Spry Fox)
  • How to turn established game property into an F2P mobile game hit (EA)

4. Unity Technology's impressive figures and other updates Game development software giant, Unity Technology, made public some stunning figures during the company's updates at GDC 2016. Unity Technology revealed that it now enjoys unique monthly users in excess of 1.1 million -- a figure that surpasses the total number of employees who work for publicly owned gaming companies across the entire globe. Other impressive Unity figures included:

  • Building approximately 300 of the 1000 (30%) highest grossing mobile games in Q4 2015
  • Advertising growing by more than fivefold since GDC 2015

Other Unity Technology updates included the availability of Unity 5.4 and 5.3.4, with Unity 5.4 being poised to improve flat 2D rendering and pave the way for virtual reality (see highlight number 1 above). There was also the announcement of:

  • A Unity certificate program that is "hard" and "definitely not an easy beginner level."
  • An innovative new way to control multi-developer projects by new users being easily added to project files, quick project adaptation and cloud saves. A beta program for the same is now available at
  • A one-click, no SDK, integration, with three times as many platforms being supported and easier to create and launch IAP

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