Countless times I received all sorts of valuable insights by reaching someone with no prior relations from a competitor's company — and simply suggesting a mutual expertise exchange. Sometimes I've gained more than could give or vice versa, but it's always been a mutual benefit.
However, knowledge exchange with fellow market colleagues is not something natural. It's understandable: expertise, insights, hypothesis (especially tested), know-how's — all of those are essential advantages in the world of competition, so I get why openness to share and expecting the same might look meaningless or naive. A summary of their position:
— Ok, suppose I might learn something valuable, but another side would get the same from me, so why should I make my competitors more competent, making it easier for them to devour me later?
And I have a spreadsheet to answer that :)
Let's assume a market of 10 competitors ranked by expertise.
For the sake of simplicity, we can consider ranking as a position in a top-grossing of their category.
Now 5 and 8 have decided to exchange expertise.
Let's assume it was equally beneficial, and both increased expertise by 10.
So, both who did share now have a higher rank at the expense of those who didn't.
There is no catch and numbers are not misleading. It's also not pretending to be some kind of analytics research — just a simple illustration. You can even put any other kind of mutual profit instead of ‘expertise exchange’: from cross-promo campaigns to any kind of illegal cartel conspiracy; the result would be the same:
In reality, competition is much more complex. Still, in a way that encourages all kinds of cooperation even more than I've illustrated — cause there is almost no such thing as 'direct competitor’ at mobile gaming: every game promoted competes not only within its sub-genre or niche or category but in the much broader scale of demography slices and interest clusters.
I think I'll put a separate post about this soon :)
Creepy P.S. Story
Once, I met a man with 100% polar mindset. It was the CEO of the studio I worked with before: we had proper work relations, and I honestly believed our cooperation ended at the point of mutual respect.
A few years later, I texted him, saying their game inspired me to run similar projects, so we already tested several prototypes with new gameplay features and art variations and received exciting results that I would like to share with him.
I was hoping simply for feedback and open talk about this market niche.
Instead of answering me, he sent a report to GP, claiming we stole their idea, gameplay, etc. Of course, the claim had no effect, but I was shocked by the idea there are grownup professionals who consider creating alike (not just cloned or reskinned) games as ‘stealing’. No grudges were kept, but common sense was slightly broken: conversation might have led him to useful insights (might not), while the claim, in any case (even resolving in his favor), wouldn't profit him anyhow. So what was the reason?