Scott Prather talked about operator channels and carriers at Casual Connect Europe 2014. He discussed with his audience ways carriers are reinventing mobile game distribution.
Scott Prather, VP of Business Development at PlayPhone, has been involved with mobile gaming for more than a decade. Before he came to PlayPhone, he helped two startups in the mobile gaming industry, OpenFeint (purchased by GREE in 2011) and I-Play (purchased by Oberon Media in 2011) grow and exit. He also spent a number of years with The Walt Disney Company and T-Mobile USA. Because his background has included work at both large and small game development studios, a wireless carrier, and a platform provider, he is able to evaluate opportunities from multiple angles. At PlayPhone, he heads up the marketing, strategic development and all business partnerships, strategically growing and partnering with leading developers, technology companies, and wireless operators across the globe.
PlayPhone’s social gaming platform powers numerous game stores for leading carriers that link to a global gaming community, with partners that include Verizon, Sprint, SingTel, Claro, and Vivo. Prather tells us there are more carrier partnerships in the works, including the launch of their latest carrier game store. He insists, “We’re very excited about the incredible momentum and engagement that we’re seeing. Our reach is quickly approaching a billion mobile customers, solidifying our position as the world’s third app store.”
The most exciting time Prather remembers in his career was the launch of PlayPhone’s first social game store on Verizon. He says, “Working directly with Verizon from conceptualization of the deal through product delivery and testing took a huge amount of time and effort, but it made the actual release that much more satisfying. Being able to walk into any one of their 2300 plus stores and see your product on display is a pretty good feeling.”
Next-Gen Mobile Gaming Experience
He points out that they are creating leading edge technology as they pioneer the next generation mobile gaming experience, and a successful market introduction and carrier launch road map has confirmed their vision and technology.
PlayPhone is always looking for ways to improve their gaming network. They constantly analyze how players use and play games on the platform and constantly seek new ways to enhance the gaming experience. He claims, “We listen to the community, both players and developers, and build the road map accordingly.”
Prather admits to being an avid, longtime gamer himself, and says one of the most enjoyable aspects of his job is getting to play the games as they come onto PlayPhone’s mobile gaming network. As with most of us, these days he is playing My Singing Monsters, Candy Crush Saga and Deer Hunter 2014. He says console games are amazing, but he prefers mobile, claiming nothing beats being able to play on-the-go.
He foresees the next few years bringing aggressive mobile expansion globally with increased smartphone penetration; faster and more powerful phones and tablets; increased mobile and internet usage; and increased percentage of time spent on phones and tablets as opposed to laptops. He also expects an explosion of mobile gaming growth globally including Asia, Africa and Latin America with China, India, Indonesia and Brazil leading the way.
The Importance of Engagement
Prather emphasizes the advantages of the free-to-play model because it lowers the barrier to entry and enables the widest audience to easily invite friends to play and share games, something he sees as a core ingredient for successful gaming. He notes, “Engagement goes up significantly when more friends are playing together.”
But he sees the most challenging element in free-to-play is getting the balance of monetization right, since monetization is critical to the success of every game. Engagement is essential to convert a user to a paying user, and monetization is optimized when the play vs purchase mechanic is balanced and the right offer is delivered at the right time. Free-to-play is most successful when monetization is integrated at the game design phase. He emphasizes, “Successful monetization balance is typically achieved only through much testing and iteration. It’s amazing how much psychology goes into gaming.”
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.