Virality matters. It has become one of the essential features describing the propagation on social networks. This ranges from viral news to viral videos on YouTube or Vimeo to viral games. It helps to monetize, but in spite of being such a vital feature of digital marketing, the ways of measuring virality remain somewhat elusive and non-ubiquitous. Join Michael Leznik, Head of Data Science at Product Madness, during his talk at Casual Connect Europe 2018 where he discussed separate metrics and some technical possibilities of evaluations.
Michael Leznik, Head of Data Science at Product Madness, describes himself as a quantitative research scientist who has seen it all. He has used his expertise in data science in every kind of company, from a strartup of only six people to a multinational corporation. His work at King, where he was pivotal in developing outstanding data science teams, has been especially helpful in the work he does today.
Combining Business and Science
At Product Madness he is working in a dynamic, rapidly growing company in the social casino sector of the game industry. With Michael’s background in social gaming, it was a natural step for him to move to social casino where he could continue to explore all the aspects of social gaming interaction.
The combination of business and science is what Michael finds fascinating about his work. It is most exciting to him when science provides results that are counter-intuitive. As he points out, “If everything agreed with our intuition, we would never have needed the science.”
A New Science
Michael was attracted to this career because it offered him the opportunity to pursue science outside the confines of a university. He traces the beginnings of the kind of work he does back to World War II and the Battle of Britain where a new science called Operations Research was developed. Operations Research was accompanied by an explosion of computational capabilities and storage capacity. Now it has evolved far beyond its original use in war to become a new discipline: data science.
Computer games, especially desktop games such as Castle Woltenstein, Warms, Doom and Warcraft are something Michael has always enjoyed. So when the opportunity came to use his knowledge of data science in the game industry arose, it was very appealing. For him the most exciting moments in his work occured when business hypotheses start to take shape, supported by data-based scientific findings.
Trends in Gaming
Michael is seeing many different trends coming in the game industry. The gaming world is definitely moving toward AR and VR, and many possibilities are coming with RMG and console-based games. Casual gaming will continue to advance, and the borders between genres and mechanics of social gaming are becoming more blurred. We will see more game mashups and the use of meta game structures will be more common. And more and more science will be entering the gaming space to include such things as personalized player treatment, AI evolutionary gaming or other types of network interactions.
In the social casino game genre, Michael is seeing an overlap between audiences for real money gaming and social casino gaming, but the overlap is limited. He does not expect social casino to ever be a threat to RMG; the two will continue a peaceful coexistence. Social casino offers entertainment without a financial agenda, so it generally attracts a different audience. However, the borders between social gaming and social casino are blurring. For example, recently the social gaming company, King, decided to publish Royal Slots to its social gaming audience. And, as Michael says, “It would be interesting to see how this experiment goes.”
What’s Coming in Social Casino
Both Oculus and the Apple Watch offer possibilities as platforms for social casino. Michael expects Oculus to be used more and more in RMG and smart watches could provide exciting meta interface for casual gaming.
Emerging markets for social casino are also offering opportunities. India and the Far East are both markets that have not yet been explored by many social casino companies from the west.
Social casino apps (other than those of Product Madness) that Michael enjoys include those developed by Big Fish. They successfully combine elements of social interaction with a casino.
There are most definitely opportunities for land-based casinos and mobile social casino studios to work together. Product Madness is one of the most successful examples of synergy between a social casino and land-based manufacturer. “Our apps Heart of Vegas, Cashman Casino, Fa Fa Gold and soon to be released Lightning Link Casino are all using content developed by land-based giant Aristocrat,” Michael points out, emphasizing, “We learn from each other, trying to advance in perfect harmony.”
To anyone interested in a career similar to Michael’s, he offers this advice, “Read, learn and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Today one can get knowledge from the best professors by merely clicking on a YouTube video. Use this unique opportunity to advance yourself.”
When Michael is not working he enjoys photography, playing the bass guitar, reading and, of course, parenting his children.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.