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Short mobile gaming attention spans are 'BS,' Kixeye says

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The notion that people who play mobile games only want short, "snackable" experiences that last no more than a few minutes "is BS," according to Kixeye's vice president of product, Alan Patmore.

Speaking at the LOGIN Conference in San Francisco today, Patmore said that while some games are suited to being shorter and "snackable," Kixeye's own data shows that not all players fit the pervasive stereotype of the mobile gamer who only wants to play for a few minutes at a time.

"I think people underestimated the mobile audience," Patmore told Polygon. "I guarantee you that there's a tremendous number of core gamers that have tablets — they tend to be men ages 34 and higher, they're high income, highly educated and they are going to have mobile devices. This is where I think there is a demand."

"I think people underestimated the mobile audience."

According to Patmore, core gaming experiences by nature tend to require longer play session lengths. The core loops are longer, they tend to be deeper and more complex, and this necessitates that the player plays longer.

When Kixeye first entered the browser-based market with Backyard Monsters, a real-time strategy tower defense game, Patmore says it was taking a risk because it was launching a game that was inherently more complicated and would require longer play session times. Backyard Monsters proved a success on Facebook, and the data gathered on how people played and for how long informed Kixeye that people were willing to spend upwards of 30 minutes at a time in the game — sometimes more.

"We've seen a succession in increased play session length for all of our games," he said. "Instead of making our game sessions shorter, we've made them interruptible."

Patmore explained that while players are willing to commit time to a tablet game, they are also more likely to drop in and out of it than they would a console or PC game. As such, Kixeye has made its games "interruptible," so if a player suddenly drops out, they aren't penalized for it. In many of its real-time strategy games, if the player drops out in a synchronous match, the game is architected so an AI takes over at that point. If the server that is operating the AI drops out, the game determines the winner based on how the match was going.

"When we saw that players were playing for significant amounts of time, we started to evolve and adapt our games to meet their demands," Patmore said. "With a successful business, part of it is not to do what everyone else is doing —it's to see new market opportunities."