“There should be a strong mix in the navigation through the game so players can quickly find the game that they like, that meets their play style,” Monty Kerr advised during a panel on designing slots for social casinos.
Monty Kerr is the co-founder and the principal product owner at PLAYSTUDIOS. As Chief Product Officer, he sets the strategic path for the company, and he has the ultimate responsibility for every product they create. He considers himself a serial entrepreneur, experience which has taught him how to stay at the helm through rough weather and how to celebrate success. He says, “Those lessons have served me well as we’ve grown PLAYSTUDIOS.”
Kerr describes himself as ‘immersed’, and he certainly can claim to be immersed in gaming. In his free time, he plays games, and when not playing, he is inventing new games. His wife calls their home, “The house that play built.”
Love For Handheld Devices
He loves handheld consoles and mobile devices, spending a lot of time on the Playstation Vita and Nintendo 3DS, or one of the many mobile devices he carries. Currently, he is playing turn-based tactical RPGs: Gladius on PS2, Valkyria Chronicles on PS3, as well as Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together on PSP. According to Steam, he has played FTL: Faster than Light most recently and Skyrim the most, 1041 hours.
If any console has sold more than one million units, Kerr probably has it. He says, “The key to being a good game designer is being able to study an iconic game or a particularly well-done mechanic.” He believes relying on a memory of a great game experience is risky, so he always re-plays relevant games and re-examines key mechanics.
Kerr has strong opinions about gaming business models. With a nod to Charles Darwin, he says, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent business model that will survive, but the one that can best manage change.” And that is free-to-play. “I love free to play,” he asserts, “I see it as the most substantial evolutionary step in the business of game development since the golden age of arcade video games.
Seeing Hearthstone blast to the top of the iOS Top Grossing Charts was particularly exciting for him, since it was a game that captivated audiences, yet had no in-game merchandising. He feels Hearthstone on iPad definitely validated his “If you build it, they will come” sentiment. He took this opportunity to emphasize to his team (yet again) the importance of building features that lead to customer delight. He does admit, “I do this so frequently there is a soapbox with my name painted on it.”
The things that give Kerr the greatest feelings of pride are centered on his team and his family. He feels tremendous pride when the team pitches ideas they are excited about. And he has his 12-year-old son’s first game design framed above his desk.
Kerr believes the next few years in the games industry will bring powerful, high-resolution mobile devices with highly available internet conductivity, resulting in AAA game experiences becoming available to players of all ages. But it will be important to make those experiences accessible and the perceived time investment low. He claims, “If you can master a great gameplay while minimizing the time investment friction, you will have a great opportunity in the near future.”
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.