Casual Connect USA 2016 broke open social casino with a three-day track July 18-20 that focused on the $3.5 billion industry. With many of the industry’s top 15 companies present, as well as innovative independent studios, no topic was left unanalyzed – whether it was on user acquisition and retention, game development, business strategies or more.
User Acquisition and Retention
Facebook Fantasy Sports & Real Money Gaming Lead Owen O’Donoghue kicked off the conference’s three-day social casino track with a focus on best practices aimed to help casino marketers stand out from the crowd, reach the right people and achieve measurable results.
Among insights shared were the fact that (localized) USA- and UK-style slot games were performing well in new markets across the globe – including Asia and South America. Additionally, Owen noted that developers need to make sure and factor re-engagements costs into LTV calculations.
Executives from top companies such as Playtika, Zynga, Product Madness, Big Fish Games, GSN Games, Super Lucky Casino, Murka, Bidalgo and DAU-UP also shared insights on user acquisition and retention through a variety of panels and lectures. Meanwhile, smaller studios such as Pipa Studios and Fox Cub shared their insights on how to compete against industry giants with unique UA strategies and innovation.
Experts from Pala Interactive and Cataboom expanded on user retention with lectures focused on incorporating real rewards into games as a way of boosting player engagement and getting users to return to an app regularly.
Business Strategies and Innovation
Hand-in-hand with user acquisition and retention are the broader strokes of business strategies and innovation. Smaller studios and publishers such as Wizits, Bluhare, 2×2 Gaming, Spin Games, Ruby Seven Studios, Bagelcode, Gamblit and Imperus proved their adaptability during Casual Connect USA as they discussed how they managed to stay ahead of the curve and maintain profitable business models amid consolidation, market saturation and a quickly changing industry.
Additionally, in a panel with Adam Krejcik from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, executives from Rocket Games, Murka, and Super Lucky Casino detailed how they managed to break their way into the industry’s top 15 companies with methods such as catering to specific niches, producing games at a rapid-fire pace, using classic game mechanics, pursuing out-of-the-box UA strategies and more.
Representatives from Electronic Arts, Spry Fox, Scopely, VonChurch and Pentasia shared advice on how to build and maintain a strong team to keep studios going strong. Takeaways included suggesting studios actively promote their company culture and reach out to their gamers to fill positions as well as unique takes on pay scales and treating employees like family.
Going beyond business strategies and digging into the very core of game development were experts from Unity Technologies, OpenFL, King and FlowPlay. In a panel, the four discussed everything from coding to engines and offered multiple solutions and ideas to the question of which is best based on a specific company’s needs.
Meanwhile, in a solo presentation, Gamedesire CIO Pawel Weder discussed the evolution of poker, early real-time strategy games and current esports games in relation to each other and what kind of gameplay players seek from truly “social” social casino games.
Looking beyond game development, and beyond initial user acquisition and retention, various speakers touched on customer care – especially for VIPs.
Experts from Product Madness, Partis Solutions, b Spot, and Scopely discussed what could be gleaned from VIP programs at land-based casinos and real money gambling (RMG) companies and how to apply it to the social casino sector. Advice ranged from how to seem personable on a mass scale to the importance of reaching out to users before they reach out to you.
In a solo presentation, Playlab Founder and CGO Thomas Andreasen provided various insights the company gained while building their own customer relationship management (CRM) system – from how to acquire and interpret data to retargeting and localization – and how they have maximized the lifetime value (LTV) of their users.
Ways that the RMG and land-based casino industries can collaborate with social casino studios is an increasingly important topic and was addressed in various ways throughout Casual Connect’s social casino track.
During his solo presentation, Gamblit Gaming CMO Darion Lowenstein detailed ways the company is merging casual and RMG games – and the benefits of doing so for both social casino studios and land-based casinos.
oneLIVE CEO Michael Jabara said in his solo presentation that land-based casinos need to start integrating mobile devices and games into their business strategies and showcased a recent deal his company made with MGM Resorts as one example of how casual games and mobile developers can find a place in casinos everywhere.
Additionally, a panel of experts from Leading Edge Design, BlueBat Games, DraftDay Gaming Group, San Manuel Digital, Gamblit Gaming and Eilers & Krejcik Gaming also dove into the dynamics between these industries and how companies can make the most of their increasingly intertwined relationship.
The Place To Be
First-time Casual Connect attendee and social casino track emcee Roberto Coppola, who is director of market research and consumer insights at YWS, notes that Casual Connect offers something the land-based casino industry is in dire need of: new ideas. “If the casino industry wants to learn about innovation, they should come to Casual Connect.”
Beyond new ideas and educational insights, multiple speakers and attendees remarked on the productiveness of their time at Casual Connect – noting new connections and business meetings they had made through Casual Connect’s networking parties and meeting systems.
If you missed Casual Connect USA’s social casino track, you can catch up on all its informative content with the conference’s social casino playlist on YouTube (be sure to check back regularly as videos are still being added). You can catch Casual Connect’s next conference November 1-3 in Tel Aviv.