In a small studio in Manhattan, the video game industry veterans at start-up TURBO Studios are busily working to release their first title this year.
Baked into the underpinnings of that project is a loftier goal. Founder Yohei Ishii and his team want to change the way users play mobile games. By trying to bring the immersive experience and high production value of console and personal computer (PC) gaming to mobile, they aim to create lasting hits.
"We're looking at our games to not last for just years, but hopefully decades. That's our goal. That's our vision," Ishii told CNBC.
The market for mobile gaming is hot, and getting hotter. According to video game research firm Newzoo, the migration from computers and consoles to tablets and smartphones sent worldwide mobile game revenues surging more than 40 percent in 2014 versus the year prior, hitting $25 billion.
With that in mind, TURBO Studios is just one developer aiming to build so-called core games for mobile devices. However, their task won't be easy. Traditional mobile hit makers are struggling to grow profit margins in the face of soaring user acquisition costs and crowded app stores. The new wave of developers believes it can avoid the boom-and-bust trend that has dominated mobile gaming, largely by building communities of intensely loyal core players.
"There's sort of a third generation of mobile game developers emerging, and it's really about relationships at that point," said Joost Van Dreunen, founder and CEO of digital gaming analysis firm SuperData Research.
This new breed of developers is not just targeting serious gamers, he said. It also includes companies such as "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" maker Glu Mobile, which has found success with titles that leverage name recognition and social media clout to reduce the cost of acquiring users.
As Van Dreunen explained, the common thread is that these companies operate more like traditional game developers. They recruit talent with highly specialized skills, develop deep networks and spend a larger share of their cash on marketing, which marks a change from just a few years ago.