Jonathan Swerdlow, Founder and CEO of GamyTech, spoke at Casual Connect Tel Aviv about several key things: 1) Understanding the size of the market and future growth. 2) Player monetization psychology: what drives players to cross over from free to paid-for content? 3) Marrying skill gaming with real-money gaming – what do the efforts so far tell us about the opportunity and the challenges? 4) Identifying effective game features that increase player engagement. 5) How customer acquisition and retention work. 6) Understanding the profile of the player through advanced analytics. “By implementing real money strategy into your game, you are actually making the game experience much more exciting, much more intriguing, much more enjoyable for your user. Therefore, the customer keeps coming back because now its not [just] a virtual game . . . Now he can get something tangible”, stressed Jonathan. For more insight, tune in below.
Jonathan Swerdlow, Founder and CEO of GamyTech, must be the quintessential entrepreneur, starting from childhood when he sold candies to his classmates. By the time he was a teenager, he had created a home business unlocking the first version of the iPhone which people were bringing back from the US. He went on to found a variety of e-commerce businesses ranging from bookstores to dorm furniture. As he says, “I was born with a computer in my hand” so starting an internet business was a natural progression.
A Permanent Change in How People Play
GamyTech is one of the world’s first real money skill gaming platforms on mobile. In the summer of 2014, Jonathan decided he wanted to make a permanent change in how people play and began searching for others who wanted to form a team that could make these changes in the games industry. And now he takes great pride in what they have accomplished, revealing, “We work tirelessly, combining true innovation with passion to deliver the best gaming experience.”
Jonathan has always been fascinated by the real money gaming industry. Growing up, he watched his father, a casual gambler and avid poker player, and learned to understand the gaming world. In fact, he learned to play cards before he learned to speak.
As a child, his dream was to improve people’s lives through building something people would love to use, developing in undeveloped countries or putting an end to wars. Although he admits this seems idealistic, he hasn’t given up on that dream. And certainly he could say he is now building something people love to use.
In 2011 Jonathan’s interest in gaming led to his first startup. When Draw Something became one of the biggest hits on the app store, he realized he wanted to create something similar. He enjoyed playing with his friends so much that he wanted to extend this to all mobile games.
Creating, Building and Executing the Vision
The freedom to create is the aspect of his work that he enjoys most. He emphasizes, “I get to do what I love most in the world. I can freely create, build and execute my visions every day.” And every day he learns at least one new thing.
But there are also many challenges in his work, from fundraising to team building to products launching. He finds it helpful to surround himself with people who have also faced these challenges and can give him the right advice at the right moment. He also has this advice to offer people interested in a similar career: “Go for it, believe in yourself, surround yourself with people smarter than you and keep working hard while following your passion.”
The most gratifying moment of his career came when he first raised money from investors. It gave him the proof that they had worked hard enough to build a business that could attract business people to believe in them and give them the power to keep moving toward their vision.
Empowering the Team to Create Something Great
His team is critical to reaching that vision and he admits that talent of any kind is always hard to find. But he firmly believes, “Once you find it, you just need to empower it and something great will result.” He looks for people who are really talented in one particular task and are filled with passion and ambition. With this in mind, he has developed a team with a great deal of diversity because diversity pushes creativity forward.
In turn, he works to inspire the team to “believe in the beauty of our dreams and our capacity to overachieve.” While he admits to being tough and pushing them hard, he also is always fair and treats them with respect. They know they can trust him and he will always listen. His goal is to avoid politics and conflicts through creating a transparent, open-minded culture where people can talk freely to share ideas and feedback.
Different Kinds of Excitement
Jonathan can see exciting developments coming in online gaming. Eventually he expects online gambling to be legalized and regulated all over the world. However, social casino players are different from online gambling players; they are looking for different kinds of excitement. Both sectors of gaming will continue to grow.
This growth may be fueled by new technologies such as Virtual Reality and devices like Oculus Rift, offering the possibility for a totally immersive 360˚ experience. As Jonathan says, “It could transform the gaming and gambling experience forever.” Wearable devices and smart TVs are also developing their gaming functionalities and it will be possible to offer completely new experiences on these devices. But he emphasizes the importance of treating them as new phenomena in order to figure out the best way to use them.
GamyTech focuses mainly on skill games, which are legal almost everywhere in the world. Data from the eSport industry shows tremendous growth in this market, suggesting many upcoming opportunities. Also, interesting geographical areas are emerging as markets in social casino.
Jonathan finds Calvin Ayre a great way to follow the news of the iGaming industry. He feels GameBeat is one of the best sources of quality articles about the gaming industry.
Aside from GamyTech’s apps, Jonathan reveals that the social casino app which most impresses him is Playtika’s Slotomania, particularly the way its economy has been built. He says, “I find the psychology behind it fascinating and I can feel the effort that has been put into this.”
Jonathan’s favorite way of disconnecting from his busy work world is spending time at the beach. He also has hobbies that cover many aspects of entertainment, including playing video games, watching movies and discovering new musicians.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.