Are you a game developer thinking about live operation in Asian markets? But you know Asian markets differ from each other. So what is the difference in game operation strategy between the different markets in China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia? These are crucial things to know, but it can be confusing especially if you are a western developer.
You could certainly benefit from the experience of Yuli Zhao, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at YOOZOO INTERACTIVE. Yuli is in charge of game and IP licensing, global merger and acquisition deal sourcing and strategy cooperation, and lead game operation for the China and Japan market. At Casual Connect Europe 2018, Yuli presented the session How Operation Influences Game Performance the Asian Markets and What Western Developers Can Learn From It.
In this session Yuli discussed whether live operation is a strategy or a tactic as well as the differences between the various Asian markets in game operation strategy. She also described how the live operation philosophy is influencing western markets and what western developers need to learn from it. To understand more about live operation, be sure to watch this video of Yuli’s session.
Focus on what players want, but not too much or too excessively. - Bernard KimClick To Tweet
In an engaging Fireside chat at Casual Connect Europe with Steel Media’s Jon Jordan and Zynga President of Publishing Bernard Kim, discussed the growth of Zynga over the last year and what’s next for the company. In FIRESIDE CHAT: The Evolution of Zynga and What’s Next, Jon and Bernard discussed growth in the increasingly competitive mobile games market and how a focus on live services, genre expansion and player engagement can fuel a company’s growth. “Our focus is always on players experiences and how to make them more engaging and enjoyable within our existing and upcoming games.” He also spoke about the importance of authenticity, especially regarding branded games, and games like CSR that have real cars in them. To hear more great quotes and insights, see the full session below.
Vasiliy Sabirov is Lead Analyst at devtodev, a full-cycle analytics platform that helps developers to improve their games. Vasiliy has seven years of experience in game analytics and describes his transition to devtodev as smooth and effortless. He began as a business analyst, then worked in a B2B service for games. He followed that with working for a game development company and from there to devtodev.
Making Decisions That Mean Something
Vasiliy’s work as Lead Analyst covers three major areas. The first is helping developers understand why analytics is so important to games and how analyzing their games can make them better. At devtodev, this has included writing books, hosting webinars and, most recently, launching a free online course in game analytics. Vasiliy also participates in international gamedev events as a guest speaker, something that involves a great deal of travel and offers opportunities to exchange ideas and opinions with other professionals.
His second major area of responsibility is creating and improving the devtodev platform. He generates ideas for reports that are useful for different game projects in different genres and that help developers understand the meaning behind the numbers in their games. And he is also responsible for analytics outsourcing for some of their clients.
Vasiliy describes, “It is really important for me to feel that my decisions mean something and influence something for the best. And the more things I can influence, the faster those decisions are implemented, the better. I’m getting all those things working at devtodev.”
The entries for Casual Connect‘s Indie Prize coming from Eastern Europe will challenge players in many different ways. A game may explore fighting with weapons that include ladles, chimney brushes and hair dryers, while another requires players to cooperate in teams to reach their objective. A more serious game explores the stages of grief as a different game explores a network of universes and another leads players to rely on their sense of hearing to explore. Players will need to use quick reflexes, logical thinking, puzzle solving skills and more in these games.
Game Title:Cube Developer: ColdCoffee Platform: Android Country: Turkey
In this game, you are trying to reach the key with Cube while avoiding the tricks and overcoming the traps. To do so, you must keep your head, remain calm and don’t rush. But eventually this won’t be enough; the path ahead will only be revealed when Cube rotates on its axis.
As long as there's creativity involved, I'm happy. - Reko UkkoClick To Tweet
In a highly competitive industry, Best Fiends has managed to grow its mobile entertainment franchise into a $100 million brand. In a talk at Casual Connect Europe entitled How to Leverage Game Design to Sustain Brand Awareness, Reko Ukko, VP of Game Design at Seriously, shared his insights on how to successfully grow an audience and increase engagement through storytelling, new feature updates and holiday themed events.
We have to be at the top of our game every day. - Andrey KuznetsovClick To Tweet
The social casino genre is one of the highest-earning and most fiercely competitive areas of the mobile gaming market. KamaGames’ CEO, Andrey Kuznetsov provided a number of key learnings, successes and challenges that contributed to the company achieving significant growth in market share, gross revenue and also reaching the 100 million player milestone in early 2018. All of this was shared in Andrey’s lecture at Casual Connect Europe. They also talked about the various innovative approaches KamaGames has taken to increase a number of key performance indicators across the entire product portfolio.
There are two entries for Indie Prize at Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2018, both from Brazil. One is a turn-based RPG, using imagination to explore the galaxy. The other is a side-scrolling platformer based on the medieval world.
Game Title:Galaxy of Pen & Paper Developer:Behold Studios Platform: iOS, Android, Desktop Win, Desktop Mac Country: Brazil
Galaxy of Pen & Paper is a turn-based role playing game. It takes place in 1999 with a group of players rolling dice as the take their turns. You create your own RPG party and Game Master as players use their imaginations to explore distant aliens, fight aliens and save the galaxy, in the era of dial-up internet and floppy disks.
Entries for Indie Prize at Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2018 from Western Europe show amazing creativity. One game brings art to life with gyroscope technology, another has players surviving and building in a world of garbage. Using music and rhythm to create challenging levels, creating your own comic book through a point-and-click adventure game, playing a variety of puzzle games or participating in MMO battles or retro arcade games, you are certain to find games that are fascinating to play.
Game Title:Flotsam Developer:Pajama Llama Games Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac Location: Belgium
Everything is flooded, and islands of garbage float among the ruins of tall buildings and the polluted coral reefs. This is the world of Flotsam, and you must find a way to survive. You will manage a team of drifters and salvage what you need to build boats and buildings from scrap and flotsam. And you must rescue the seagulls and dolphins who will help you find fresh water and seafood. Flotsam won the prizes for Best Game and Best Game Design at White Nights Prague 2017 and was nominated to participate in Indie Prize.
We at Flaregames pledge to protect the creativity of our partners in a cutthroat market. - Justin…Click To Tweet
It’s daunting for many developers to have to constantly create new heroes, units, items to keep pace with engaged players. But designs that avoid the “content treadmill” most often lead to players desiring the game’s content less, and players who desire less will spend less. In a talk called F2P Developers: Get on the Content Treadmill! at Casual Connect Europe, Justin Stolzenberg, VP Publishing at flaregames, it is explained why it’s smarter to embrace rather than avoid ongoing content creation, and gave practical tips for small and medium sized teams. “A gacha is only as deep as the most desirable content.” He further explained, “Nobody plays the lottery for a consolation prize.” He suggests following these three steps: start with the end in mind, design for scalability, and be real about constraints.
Justin Stolzenberg, Vice President Publishing at Flaregames, has been responsible for monetization for a variety of browser and games companies over the past sixteen years. As part of the Flaregames’ management team, Justin now looks after their entire publishing portfolio. Justin came to Flaregames after getting to know CEO Klaas Kersting five years ago. Justin fell in love with Klaas’ vision and the Flaregames culture, which includes true partnerships with developers, a no-asshole-policy and real gamers.
Justin’s favorite aspect to this job is the people, both the diverse and inspiring partners and the brilliant people within the company in tech, marketing and product divisions.
From Gaming to a Career in Games
As Justin was growing up, he played games continually, every day. The most constant of these was Counter-Strike, which he played at the European Pro level until 2001. Interestingly, as he was growing up, his plan for the future varied according to what game that he was playing. “One summer I wanted to be a helicopter pilot because I’d sunk hundreds of hours into Novalogic’s Commanche, then I wanted to be a race driver because of Grand Prix 2.” So it was natural as an adult for him to pursue a career in the game industry.
He started in the industry as a game writer for a major media company. From there he quickly moved to product management and project management during the mid-2000s, while F2P browser games were most popular.
Justin describes, “Games require both artistic and scientific skills. Bringing both perspectives together to solve difficult problems is something that really drives me.” And this is what he enjoys most about his work today.
There are significant challenges in the industry because the mobile game market has become so competitive. There are also, traditionally, challenges in the relationship between developer and publisher. Flaregames wanted to change this dynamic, so they began iterating and learning from mistakes, and continued until they developed what they consider to be a formula that perfectly aligns the interests of both parties.
As a publisher, Justin is most proud of his work when he helped ship and scale something beautiful. These have included Royal Revolt II and Nonstop Knight, two of Justin’s favorite games.
The Key to Effective Marketing
The key to effectively marketing games, according to Justin. is deeply understanding the audience and then telling a compelling, joined-up story. This may be through influencers, media-buying or other ways. Because Flaregames is looking for brands to be successful over a number of years, they must make a deep investment in story-building and how they communicate with the player base.
Flaregames looks for magic in the games they are considering and how the developer manages the ongoing evolution of their game. With respect to the game, this means the themes the game covers, the ways the themes fulfill the needs of the intended audience, and whether the gameplay actually delivers on this vision. Flaregames then looks at the developer’s readiness for sustained live ops and continued content creation after hard launch, and whether this is a realistic proposition.
The Relationship Between Publisher and Developer
Justin emphasizes that the relationship with developers must be based on transparency, fairness and an alignment of interests. He always remembers the developer is the chief architect of the masterpiece while the publisher provides the scale, marketing, infrastructure and F2P expertise to bring the masterpiece to the masses. The developer should be left to do what they do best: making the games.
Making games is a full-time, intense amount of work, with little time for anything else. So, as Justin points out, it is important for a developer to find a publisher just as passionate and invested in the game as they are. If the publisher can offer world-class marketing, production and technical support, this is an excellent publisher to choose.
There are many, many great games from amazing teams that never gain traction. The volume of competition is staggering and a serious threat to most developers; this is where publishers can really make a difference.
“We at Flaregames call ourselves the ‘Guardians of Joy’: we pledge to protect the creativity of our partners in a cutthroat market,” Justin describes. “This is what the best publishers can offer.”
Justin continues to be passionate about games when he is not working. He plays in diverse genres: games that include Grand Prix II, Counter-Strike, Overwatch and all the Civilization games. Currently he is looking for the next game he will play really hard core. He also plays jazz guitar, reads sci-fi and exercises obsessively.
There is a little bit of instinct involved in this and mine hasn't failed me yet... - Owen McCarthyClick To Tweet
If you have ever been to a theme park or large carnival, you know first hand how crowded such places can be. As a game developer, have you have tried to tackle simulating something like that in a game? Frontier Development’s Principal Programmer Owen McCarthy Traditional has some pointers. In a talk at Casual Connect Europe in London entitled Simulating 10,000 Guests in Planet Coaster, Owen gave an overview of how Frontier did it in Planet Coaster. They were able to successfully simulate over 10,000 park guests in a player-created environment by using potential field research based on continuum crowds. In the presentation, he takes a deep dive into the studio’s development process to show how they took this system from prototype to full production. See the full session below.