Lloyd Melnick explained Amaya’s Blue Ocean strategy in his presentation at Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015. “You want to create an uncontested market space, making the competition irrelevant,” he said. See the video below for more of Lloyd’s strategies for success.
Lloyd Melnick, Director of Social Gaming at Amaya’s Rational Group, leads their social and mobile free-to-play gaming initiatives. The company’s PokerStars is already a dominant force in the real money gaming space; Lloyd’s responsibility is to help the company reach the same level in the free-to-play social space. He was impressed by PokerStars’ “unrelenting focus on the player” and saw joining this company as an incredible opportunity. Later he learned that he was the only candidate for the job who mentioned the importance of the player, and this was the reason he was offered the position.
Lloyd came to PokerStars from Zynga, where he was Senior Director and responsible for the most successful social casino launch in the past few seasons, Hit It Rich!, at a time when this space was thought to be too saturated for new entrants. Interestingly, other than games from PokerStars, Hit It Rich! is still his favorite game. He now uses this background, as well as his experience as Co-Founder and CCO at Merscom, GM at Playdom, CEO at FiveOnNine Games and CGO at Spooky Cool Labs to boost his efforts at PokerStars.
A Talented, Dedicated Team
What he enjoys most about his current position are the people he works with. “Not only are they smart, but they really look at how to grow the company for the long haul,” he describes. Unlike his experience in other game companies, many of these people have remained with the company for four, five and even 10 years.
For members of his team he looks for people who desire to learn and become better and who can empathize with players. And he says, “I can’t stop saying how talented and dedicated they are.” When complications arise within the team, he handles them through open communication.
The Games Industry is a Tough Business
The international opportunities in the games industry inspired Lloyd’s career. He made his start in 1993 when he founded a company to assist other companies in the North Carolina tech space find export markets. At that time, with the transition from floppy disks to CD-ROM, computer games began to take off, so his company began focusing their efforts in this direction.
The experience in his career that he remembers with the greatest satisfaction was when he sold his first company to Playdom and when subsequently he was on Playdom’s leadership team when they sold to Disney. “It took a lot of hard work from me and my business partner, and perseverance,” he says. “It showed business is not as easy as it looks on TV.”
To those interested in pursuing a similar career, he insists, “Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.” Simply enjoying playing games is not a good enough reason; if you’re just an avid gamer, he recommends playing games in your free time and finding a career that best suits you. He emphasizes, “The video games industry is not about playing games at work. It’s a tough business.”
Great Content Impacts Consumption
Although Lloyd looks to the future in the industry, he never tries to predict trends. Rather, he says this business is about creating great content that people want and then seeing how this impacts consumption. He does anticipate new platforms coming for social casino and expects to see opportunities in skill-based casino, as is evident with the success of eSports. And emerging markets in social casino, both territory based and vertical based, are still offering opportunities.
For Lloyd, the most important thing outside his work is his family. The Isle of Man, where PokerStars is located, is very family oriented with virtually no crime and many available activities. He says, “We’ve done more activities in the few months since moving here than I’ve probably done in the last five years.”
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.