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Mobile Game Shame

When I glance at my phone, there's always a number that hurts my feelings a little bit. It triggers a mix of shame and trepidation, and I almost immediately want to flip to another page on the phone just so I can avoid it.

It's not my step counter.

It's the number of apps I have to update on the app store. I'm up to about 120 now.

I used to be different. I was the kind of person who looked down on those who would be insane enough to leave so many apps un-updated. "Don't you get it??" I'd ask under my breath. "You're missing out on new content! The game is probably broken and needs fixing! Developers slept under their desks in order to be able to deliver that update ... and you're letting it sit in the app store like a rotting mango!" (My grandparents had a real mango tree ... but I digress.)

Here's the thing: I use my phone all the time, and as such I'm almost never ready to surrender it to a massive set of updates. Obviously, I'm only making things worse, as the virtual queue piles up, but with some game updates at 1GB, I sometimes find my phone unusable during a batch update. I know the updates are supposed to happen in the background, but in practice, I usually can't browse the web reliably during one of these app refresh sessions. Also, some of the games are still playable without the update, so I'm able to trick myself into believing I'll get to it later.

Interestingly, a study we fielded last year showed that a quarter of players stop playing a game that updates too frequently. Meanwhile, a survey of hundreds of game developers and infrastructure managers showed that 63% of them update their games at least weekly. There's a tension going on right there. The games NEED to be updated - to be improved, to be fixed, to be expanded. But we're making players suffer for those updates. And, by the way, we don't have to. Some Akamai customers use a careful mix of innocuous sideloads and app store updates as a part of their strategy.

Check out some more interesting responses from our recent game developer survey.

3 Comments

Yes you are right, Releasing updates frequently is not a good practice. Users tend to get bored because of the frequent updates and ultimately uninstall that particular app.

The trick is that the content usually needs updating, but there has to be a thoughtful plan around it. Updates should be carefully scheduled and managed.

When users get bored, the results is who will play games? I think its better if the updates are carefully scheduled and well plan. They need to send announcement about updates,

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