Mark Beck is the VP of Strategy at Murka. Prior to that, he spent a decade at Aristocrat in three different locations: Sydney, Las Vegas and San Francisco. At Casual Connect Asia 2017, Mark discussed potential ways to innovate and succeed in the social casino sector.
“My biggest lesson is how important the focus on product and content development is in the industry – and the impact that successful product has on results,” said Mark. “What’s interesting in the slots space is that even the best game designer in the world has plenty of failed games – if 10 percent of your titles were ‘hits’ this would be considered a massive success. This means is there is always opportunity for a new game to come in and disrupt the market.”
One of the primary successes at Aristocrat was Heart of Vegas. “There were many factors that contributed to the success of Heart of Vegas and it is only with solid execution across the board that will you be able to compete for players’ time and wallet in such a competitive industry,” said Mark. “We tried to be best in breed in all the key areas – from product development to content, marketing and live operations, we supported each area with technology, tools and teams.”
“If I was to choose one factor – it was access to the best slot content in the industry released by Aristocrat that gave us a competitive advantage,” he added.
Finding New Audiences
One of the major ongoing issues for social casino is figuring out whether there’s still an emerging market. Mark notes that there was 13 percent year on year growth and a 9 percent Q1 2017 growth, and he expects there to be growth opportunities going forward.
“As the industry matures this challenge becomes more difficult, particularly when competing with well-funded players with large userbases that follow quickly,” said Mark. “By way of example, a few years ago the Stepper (mechanical slot reel) segment didn’t exist and was discovered by DGN and fast followed by Rocket Games and others.”
“Similarly, Murka whom I’m working for, identified and scaled the younger male segment through quest-based challenges which has been replicated by most large players in the space,” he continued. “I would say social casino is not an emerging market but there are still undiscovered niches that could be.”
Expanding with New IP
FaFaFa Slots was targeted to the Asian region when it released. While the region tends to not be targeted with social casino games, Mark says there are special considerations.
“I think it’s important to separate the Asian region and Asian player. There are many Asian players residing in your traditional western social casino markets,” said Mark. “Succeeding in this market is more than just translating your game – it’s about a different product experience to delight these players.”
“Most large players in the space have identified this segment and released an Asian focused game – e.g. Aristocrat, Playtika, Scientific Games, PlayStudios etc.” he continued. “I would say there are opportunities here in niches within this segment, but is still a very competitive segment.”
Another way to expand the social casino scene is using licenses like The Walking Dead. “I believe IP is used more to attract existing social casino players to your app vs. others, rather than to attract new players to social casino,” asserts Mark. “I think the only way of expanding the appeal of social casino is through a new or exciting product development.”
Working with Real Casinos
One area that is just beginning to be explored is the collaboration between land-based casinos and mobile social casino studios. Mark thinks the collaboration can potentially work for both parties.
“This allows casinos to reach players at home and the social casino to reach players at the venue for both new user acquisition and retention of existing users,” said Mark. “What’s important to remember is that social casinos have hundreds of thousands or even millions of daily active users – so the scale has to be there for this kind of program to make practical sense.”
David Radd is a staff writer for GameSauce.biz. David loves playing video games about as much as he enjoys writing about them, martial arts and composing his own novels.