“It is indeed very hard to keep players entertained while doing the same routine over and over, everyday,” Leonard Frankel said during his session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “The average mobile user installs a new game almost every month. The average mobile gamer installs a new game twice a month, so even higher. So the imminent uninstalls lurks around the corner.” He shared insight on improving engagement in games during his session.
Leonard Frankel is head of business development at Plarium, the largest hard-core game developer on Facebook. Closing distribution and IP deals for Plarium are the times when Frankel feels the most productive and valuable in his work. Closing these deals is not easy, and, in fact, Frankel reveals that it requires more work in internal pitching than in external negotiating.
Educating Yourself on the Business
It was 2011 when, through a recruiter, Frankel joined Plarium at the time when the company consisted of 160 people (versus over 500 now). He was their first business development person, so a lot of the job involved research and competitive analysis. As the company evolved, so did its requirements for collaborative relationships, and his responsibilities increased. Today, he actively helps in steering the company’s strategy. Before coming to Plarium, he founded and managed a company developing an AI engine for online real-money poker games. In its last phase, they explored launching social games based on this engine. At that point, Frankel had to educate himself on the games ecosystem of Facebook. This happened to be the exact knowledge needed by Plarium as they took their first steps on the platform.
Frankel believes that the applying of complex collection mechanisms into other game genres is well-accepted by players today. He finds that it adds a significant layer of interest to most games, so he is actively advocating for it with Plarium’s internal studios. He admits this is easier said than done, but says, “When we look into new games being developed, we debate with our internal studios which forms of engagement can be added to their game, and collection mechanisms are often one of the options.”
Telepathic Phones Ahead?
He suggests that the trend which could most affect the games industry would be the switch to telepathic phones. But as this might take a whole decade, another interesting trend he observes is the decline in online platforms which will have a considerable impact. Fewer and fewer people are buying physical PCs, and existing PC owners have drastically reduced their PC usage. They often prefer using their mobile devices to go online. It seems evident to him that web platforms are on the decline, pushing even more developers toward mobile and increasing the overall quality of mobile games, as well as the competition on player’s attention.
Not surprisingly, considering his work, Frankel prefers to do his gaming on mobile because “The quality of games is so high these days, and the length of play fits perfectly into tight schedules”. He has been playing a lot of Hearthstone by Blizzard and recently, he began playing Summoners War by Come2Us, “It is a fun RPG CCG with high production values and great animation”.
While playing F2P games, he doesn’t usually make large single-purchases. In Candy Crush, he spent about $30, a little at a time. But he was glad to pay $70 for the arena and campaign mode in Hearthstone over time. Frankel divides most of his time between work and spending time with his wife and daughters. But he does squeeze in time for a little exercise, a bit for experimental cooking and eating, and a dash of social life.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.