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Jackie Edwards on Mobile Game Design as a Career

Emily Young

Excited to introduce Jackie Edwards, a software developer with a passion for teaching IT to young adults, in conjunction with our You Asked, We Answered blog category.

Can you combine your love for mobile gaming and economics?    Yes!


6 Steps to Create a Successful Mobile Game
By Jackie Edwards

In 2016, almost 21,000 mobile gaming apps were added to the App Store in just one month. From games like Candy Crush to Pokémon Go, mobile gaming is taking the market by force. Mobile media is taking over our lives and with mobile usage expected to grow immensely in the next couple of years, mobile gaming will account for 42 percent of all gaming sales. If you’re a developer, here are some tips on how to create your first indie mobile game.


  1. Budget Your Time and Your Money

You need to determine what your budget is before you embark on your journey to develop an indie mobile game. Mobile games can cost anywhere between $0 and $900,000 and your budget and availability will significantly determine what kind of game you can develop.

MobLab Q/A: In terms of time, it takes our team about two weeks to take a game from conception to completion with variability depending on game parameters, testing, changes, and balancing other projects.


  1. Choose Your Genre and Do Your Research

It is important that you conduct a lot of market research before investing in the development of your game. You will want to develop a game that is popular and targets your fanbase. In 2016, the top grossing iOS games were strategy, role playing, adventure, action, and puzzle, respectively. You will also want to figure out how you want to set up your monetization system.

MobLab Q/A: We rely on insights from our advisory team to obtain feedback on our games to  ensure they match the economic rigor and learning objectives intended for students. In terms of pricing, offer a variety of different pricing structures to allow instructors and institutions to meet the differing needs of students.  


  1. Develop Your Concept

This is where you will use many of the skills learned in video game design schools. Pick a theme that you know will resonate with players and be sure to stick to it. Make sure that everything you add to the game from your characters to the storyline matches your theme. Since mobile games are generally compact, it will be very easy for your players to know when you steer away from your theme.

MobLab Q/A: When a story resonates with students, they are more likely to behave in alignment with the economic theory. When trying to gamify a theory, thoughts go into interactive roles for each player and creating clear decisions on each screen to achieve overall learning objectives.  


  1. Choose Your Technology Wisely

What you choose as your engine will drastically change your mobile game. Some options to consider include the following.

  • Cocos2D which is an open-source game development suite that is compatible with Swift and Objective-C.
  • Unity is a mobile game engine that can support C# and UnityScript, which is designed just for Unity and modelled after JavaScript.
  • PhoneGap lets users use their own existing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript skills to create a mobile app by embedding a web view in the app.

MobLab Q/A: We mainly user Phaser (which uses Javascript and a prebuilt library). We also natively design our Android/IOS mobile apps.


  1. Market Your Game

You will need to focus most of your time on marketing your game. Be sure to create a blog or website that serves as a hub for any updates you may have pertaining to the game. You will want to start this early on, before the game is completed, so that you can generate interest. Also be sure to reach out to indie game reviewers and ask them to review your game. This will give you free press and media coverage.

MobLab Q/A: Beyond our website and blog, our outward facing team arranges campus visits and presents at economic conferences. We make customer support the highest priority, since word of mouth and customer referrals is crucial. 


  1. Plan for Changes and Upgrades

One thing that is different about mobile games from typical PC or console games is that you will constantly have to add changes and updates to your game to keep fans interested. Since people spend a lot more time on their phone than in front of a computer or television screen, your players will also blast through levels faster. This means that you constantly have to build add-ons and upgrades. You should design some of these prior to your first release just to be prepared.

MobLab Q/A: We recently released a MobLab Instructor Beta and plan to release MobLab Student Beta at the end of the year. The new design and added functionality brings our app to the forefront of ed-tech gaming apps and keeps our product relevant with the ever mobile app industry. 


If you haven’t gotten into the world of mobile game development, it’s time to start. With these six tips you can get your break into the expansive industry.

If you are interested in joining the MobLab team, please visit our jobs page for a listing of open game development positions.