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30 Oct 2013

The Importance of Your Mobile Game’s File Size

An often overlooked dimension of your indie mobile game is the actual size of the game. Believe it or not, the file size of your game is incredibly important, as it could affect how many people play (and continue to play) your game. Thus, you need to ensure that your game’s file size remains reasonable, and if at all possible, you need to do everything you can to lower it as much as possible while ensuring your game remains fun all the same.

There are two main reasons why lowering your file size is important:

A large file size (may) = less installs/purchases

Here’s the blunt truth: unless your game is widely recognized and/or extremely popular, if your game has a large file size, you shouldn’t expect a lot of people to install/purchase your game. Sure, XCOM: Enemy Unknown may have a huge file size, but it also has name recognition attached to it: the game was a hit on PC and consoles, so for those that want ‘XCOM on the go,’ they are much more likely to purchase and install the game, and for those that do not usually play PC or consoles games? They are also more likely to purchase the game to see what all of the fuss is about.

Using that train of thought for a moment, if your unknown indie mobile game has the same file size as XCOM: Enemy Unknown (or is even a little smaller), how many people do you think are going to purchase your indie mobile game versus XCOM: Enemy Unknown? Furthermore, how many people are going to purchase your game with a large file size versus another well known game with a large file size? A few may install your game, but it will be significantly less than if your game had been smaller.

And if they have to purchase the game? Expect even less people to purchase your game due to the large file size. Again, some people may purchase and install your large mobile indie game, but it will be significantly less than those that would have purchased and/or installed your game had the file size been lower.

This problem exists for two reasons:

  • Storage space on mobile devices is highly valued
    • When people run out of space on their mobile device, they have to either begin uninstalling apps, deleting media and information from their mobile device, or spend a substantial amount of money to buy a new mobile device with more storage space.
  • Commitment issues
    • Nobody wants to purchase and/or install a new mobile game (or app for that matter) if they know it will take up a considerable amount of space on their mobile device – especially if they have to pay for it. Most people only pay for games/apps they know they will be using for months to come, and if they have any doubts they will be playing and enjoying your mobile indie game? They probably will not purchase and install your game.

The increased chances of players uninstalling your mobile indie game

Let’s say a player has noticed his/her mobile device is about to run out of storage space. What’s the first thing the player is going to do? They are likely going to go through the list of their installed apps and begin uninstalling apps that are large in size. I actually did this not too long ago, and I found a few games and apps that were a few hundred megabytes apiece, and I unfortunately had to uninstall them. I had a substantial amount of free space after that, yet I noticed something unique looking back at my installed apps: the games that were under 100MB that I rarely played I kept installed on my mobile device, while other games that I had a lot of fun with in the past but were 500MB – 1GB I uninstalled. Why did I do this?

The amount of fun I had with the large games did not outweigh how much space said games were taking up on my mobile device. On that same train of thought, I have had a blast with Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars over the last year and a half, and although the game has a large file size, I didn’t want to uninstall it because of my past experience with it.

So what can you summarize from this?

Only recognizable, valued mobile games can get away with large file sizes.

And even then, sometimes they can’t. I’ve spent dozens of hours playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown over the past year, and the thought of playing the game on-the-go sounds incredible. Even so, I’m probably never going to purchase the game for my mobile device simply because it’s too large. Sure, I could probably delete some apps and games to make up for the space XCOM: Enemy Unknown would take up, but if I did, suddenly I have room for a lot of other games instead of just one.

See the problem? It’s hard to justify sacrificing hundreds of megabytes of space when it means other, smaller, games/apps could be installed in its place. So what’s the solution?

Lower your mobile indie game’s file size as much as possible.

There are ways to do this, and I’ll detail it in tomorrow’s post!

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