main

BusinessDevelopmentExclusive InterviewsPR & Marketing

Matthieu Burleraux: PlayLab in His Pocket

May 14, 2017 — by David Radd

Playlab-Photos-Google-Chrome-2017-05-15-00-960x540.jpg

Matthieu Burleraux is the Business Development Director at Pocket PlayLab. The company is helping to provide mentorship on different matters to developer Cupcake, which the company invested $1 million into.

“We are helping them understand how to work around game KPIs, including in user acquisition, using these KPIs to optimize the game as well as their marketing campaign,” said Matthieu. “For example, we are focusing a lot on the daily cohorts, the LTV45 associated to them, the CPI, retention numbers, etc. We are also starting to help them on producing visual assets for UA and provide mentorship regarding developing the game on new platforms.”

 

“Before making the decision to work with Cupcake, we looked at the basic KPIs (ARPU, ARPPU, retention, virality, DAU, etc.) and their evolution over time, but we also looking into UA KPIs such as the CPI they had, ROI on UA, etc.” Matthieu continued. “The goal was for you to see if the game was sustainable and if we could grow it.”

BusinessExclusive InterviewsPR & Marketing

Marko Jevtic, Jose Mourinho, Top Eleven, and Award Winning Ads

November 18, 2016 — by David Radd

top11-960x540.jpg

Marko Jevtic is the product marketing manager for Nordeus’ Top Eleven franchise. He leads the marketing team, and has worked in digital marketing for over ten years.

“Community management is important to us, and we have a presence across various social media platforms,” Marko detailed. “Market research is also part of my responsibilities.”

Before joining Nordeus, Marko worked on creative, digital strategies and as a media guide for clients like Visa and Samsung in Europe. Nordeus made the offer to Marko, which he saw as a great opportunity, noted that one year in the gaming sector is like 20 in other industries.

DevelopmentExclusive InterviewsGame DevelopmentIndiePR & Marketing

Party Hard: Community-Driven Updates

September 16, 2016 — by Orchid

ss_4726e07b3f108dd8b46f29e47b00b2695a216107-960x541.jpg

The Ukrainian team of Pinokl Games team was working on a huge ambitious project of Mecha Titans and some other casual and family-friendly games… and then got tired of that all. They unleashed their darkest thoughts and participated in Kanobu Game Jam with Party Hard, a game of a bloody massacre at a noisy neighbors’ party at 3AM, or “third-person urban conflict simulator” as they describe their creation.

The bloodthirsty theme found a response in the hearts of Casual Connect Europe 2015 critics, having brought the team the Critics Choice award in Indie Prize. The team recently celebrated the 1st anniversary of Party Hard launch, having scored numerous other awards and gaining a massive creative fan base. Pinokl Games’ marketing manager and producer Alina Husevyk shares the most noticeable learnings of the year.


BusinessExclusive InterviewsPR & Marketing

Wally Nguyen: Why Downloads Are Dead

August 25, 2016 — by David Radd

mNectar-960x540.png

Wally Nguyen, CEO of mNectar, helped found the company about three and a half years ago. Inspiration hit while on iTunes, they were able to listen to a song for 30 seconds before buying it or the album. Wally had a “light-bulb moment” that if you could do that with a song, then why not with a game.

“My co-founder comes from a technical background and there were ads that let you manipulate an image back then, and I asked if they had that, why can’t you play a game?” Wally said. “Back then we raised a little bit of a money with developers like with Kabam being our first customers. With playable ads, 99 percent of our customers are game developers or publishers, giving people a sample of their games.”

BusinessContributionsExclusive InterviewsIndustryOnlinePR & Marketing

Millennial Media’s Lewis Rothkopf on Better Games through Big Data

August 26, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

feature57.jpg

Lewis Rothkopf, the senior vice president of global monetization solutions at Millennial Media, moderated a panel discussion on Leveraging Data to Build Better Games and Enhance Monetization at Casual Connect USA 2014. While there, he spoke about that panel, Millennial’s ongoing projects, and the current and possible future trends at the intersection of big data and gaming with Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice.com (they provide coverage content on enterprise employee engagement, customer loyalty and rewards, and gamification trends and much more).


Millennial Media is an independent audience platform in the digital advertising space that connects brands and consumers by leveraging data through a mobile-first approach and cross-screen targeting solutions. Rothkopf oversees the company’s publisher and developer relationships. Consequently, he has a unique understanding of the opportunities and difficulties facing today’s gaming industry.

MMphoto2
Rothkopf moderating the panel on leveraging data at Casual Connect USA 2014.

Better Games through Data-driven Decisions

Part of his panel discussion at Casual Connect concerned itself with one of the gaming industry’s major challenges: developers and marketers need to tap into ways of leveraging data so they can make smarter, more efficient, data-driven decisions in order to reach the right consumers in the right place at the right time on the right device with the right mindset and within the right context.

Additionally, Rothkopf pointed out three other critical areas that need to be addressed:

Actionable Intelligence: Developers need to gather deeper and less obvious insights based upon in-app behaviors. Such insights are observed alongside third-party data based on offline behaviors so that developers can make faster, smarter decisions in regards to monetization and user acquisition.
– Hyperlocal Targeting: Developers are tying everything back to local, both to monetize and acquire users. Such hyperlocal targeting that reaches consumers in the right place, mindset, and time can be a challenge.
– Individual SKU-ing: Developers are realizing that creating hits is very much a numbers game. Consequently, they’re releasing a much greater volume of individual SKUs and iterating on them once they’ve taken a foothold instead of hoping to release one monolithic, tent-pole title. Many casual titles are also being released in the hopes that one or more of them will hit it big (see Flappy Bird).

MMphoto1
The Millennial Media booth at Casual Connect USA 2014

Acquiring Users and Monetizing

Rothkopf found that the Casual Connect audience wanted to know more about data conversion in terms of giving developers an edge in user acquisition and monetization—two areas that Rothkopf and his team at Millennial Media understand. He cited two specific areas that Millennial Media currently focuses on in order to help devs acquire users and work toward monetization: location and cross-device and cross-screen.

When focusing on location, Millennial Media marries location and context. In partnership with Esri, they’re re-launching Point: Audience Location Advertising, where their clients can target traditional location dimensions (country, date, etc.), time dimensions, and hyperlocal dimensions like household income, environment, propensity for shopping, etc. To deal with cross-device and cross-screen, Millennial Media also offers PATH, a mobile-first, cross-screen advertising suite that helps advertisers reach consumers anonymously. PATH provides access to tens of millions of cross-screen profiles in a seamless manner.

MMphoto3
During the panel at Casual Connect USA 2014, they discussed using big data to build better, smarter and more monetizable products.

Successful Gaming Marketing

Finally, Rothkopf stressed that success comes from having a fair exchange of value, achieving relevant advertising, seeking the right targeting, and leveraging both first- and third-party data to make smarter decisions to drive monetization and deliver a better gaming experience.

To hear more from Lewis Rothkopf on big data, gaming, and his insights from Casual Connect USA 2014, listen to the podcast interview below. For more information on Millennial Media, visit www.millenialmedia.com, or if you’re a developer seeking to acquire users or working toward monetization, visit www.mmedia.com.

BusinessExclusive InterviewsIndustryOnlinePR & Marketing

Geoffrey Greenblatt in the New Frontier

August 21, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature44.jpg
Geoffrey Greenblatt, North American Gaming Director, Mindshare
Geoffrey Greenblatt, North American Gaming Director, Mindshare

Geoffrey Greenblatt, the North American gaming director for Mindshare, became interested in gaming at a very early age. He was four years old when his father brought home a Texas Instruments computer, and he was instantly hooked. Handheld games, Sega, Gameboy, Genesis and Super Nintendo all followed. He doesn’t claim that first computer was the inspiration for his career, but he says it was definitely the jumping off point of his interest in games.

Games and Advertising

His moment of inspiration actually came when he moved from traditional media to digital media. On his first day in that space, he saw an ad in a game, learned that it was served dynamically and thought, “Wow! Games and advertising. Now that’s an area I want to explore.”

After that moment, Greenblatt decided to dive in and see what could be done in the space. He began by putting together integration-based programs and proposing additional opportunities to clients who were interested in the gaming space. His breakthrough came with developing the first content distribution program on Xbox LIVE for Sprint. They were short-listed at Cannes, and interest grew from there. He considers himself fortunate to have had such supportive clients, but the biggest hurdle in getting the project off the ground was explaining how it could drive success for the brand.

This is still the biggest hurdle to overcome. Greenblatt recognizes that brands are not interested in the tactical details of a program; they are interested in how a program can fill their needs objectively.

Working With the Unfamiliar

Unknown
His work day differs so much day-to-day that he claims there is no such thing as a normal day.

Greenblatt has now been with Mindshare for 8.5 years. He had spent three years with a different agency in traditional media and then moved to digital media there. He decided the best way to grow and learn would be in an unfamiliar environment. Mindshare had great accounts that he thought would be fun to work on, and, fortunately, they also had an opening for him.

His work day differs so much day-to-day that he claims there is no such thing as a normal day. He spends a lot of his time writing: presentations for client teams or conferences, POVs, booklet write-ups, such as one he just did for E3, and even informative emails, so he is often found in front of his computer, typing away in Word or Powerpoint. If he is not at the computer, he is meeting with vendors to learn about the space and following up with teams to provide them with any information they need to create a successful gaming space program for their clients. He emphasizes, “I love the variety that my position offers, and I very much enjoy working with all the people at Mindshare that I have gotten to know so well over the years.”

It’s All About Monetization

Greenblatt points out that the center of any industry has to be monetization, and it is no different for the games industry. From the console perspective, monetization growth appears to be centered on continuous expansion of the audience, especially beyond core gamers and early adopters. Growing the audience drives the purchase of more games, and in this way, increases the revenue. This is the key point for other platforms as well: growing the audience is the way to increase revenue. As the audience expands, developers can sell virtual goods, integrated programs, data collection, and advertising. All of this drives revenue.

photo 1
In the gaming space, the combination of mobile, social and programmatic has created a variety of different options for brands.

He has seen huge shifts in advertising in recent years with mobile, social, and programmatic buying. Mobile and social are completely new spaces that grow and change very quickly. Programmatic buying seems to be the convergence of many different types of opportunities into a more linear opportunity. It can be difficult to keep up with the rate of change, but the changes can also be very exciting. In the gaming space, the combination of mobile, social and programmatic has created a variety of different options for brands: single or multi-platform options, easy-to-purchase or very robust program options, single title alignment or network-based options. There are now so many options for brands, and the gaming space has become more attractive for a greater variety of brands.

Objectives Over Tactics

In the games market, the biggest advertising mistake Greenblatt sees is thinking tactics first. An advertising campaign must, first and foremost, be about the brand’s objectives. An opportunity, no matter how exciting it may seem, may not be the right fit for a brand. He has seen this mistake on both the brand and the developer sides. But developing a program in the gaming space is not about creating a cool experience in the game; it is about fulfilling a brand objective.

He insists, “This problem arises from a lack of understanding about what is really important for the brand and thinking about the game first; this is especially important for game lovers. They tend to look at opportunities from the perspective of a player rather than the perspective of a brand or advertiser. Both brand teams and game developers need to look at opportunities through the lens of the brand: what the brand is trying to achieve and how will the results be measured.

photo-12-fix
The long-lasting trend of creative pioneering is something he believes will only continue to grow.

Greenblatt is very interested to see how mobile gaming will continue to evolve. The platform’s accessibility has allowed game lovers and potential designers to create for the first time. With first time developers having the opportunity to bring their ideas to fruition, new kinds of games will continue to be created. Add new types of social mechanics and innovative developments such as virtual reality, and the level of creativity in the gaming space is reaching heights never previously imagined. This long-lasting trend of creative pioneering is something he believes will only continue to grow.

When Greenblatt is not at work, he likes to keep busy with a variety of activities. He has side projects he is working on with friends and he also has a job with ESPN on ABC production, something he has been doing for 10 years now. If not occupied with these, he spends his time watching TV and movies, going to the gym, watching sports, and catching up on sleep.

 

BusinessExclusive InterviewsOnlinePR & Marketing

Sonal Patel on the Evolution of Advertising

May 19, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature17.jpg
SonalPatel_Picture
Sonal Patel, Director of Twitter Exchange, JAPAC

Sonal Patel, the business development director of Twitter Exchange, JAPAC, says her favorite part of the industry is the complexity. She started out training to become a lawyer but ended up in advertising, realizing her passion was in technology. She grew up working in the family grocery store and noticed some products sold more than others; this began her interest in advertising.

Working in a New Market

Her first role was in the oil and gas industry at a time when gas was being marketed to UK homes from other providers that were not government run. The market was new, the product was the same, and the only differentiator was the marketing, so her role was a tough one. She was very hands-on in creating new ways to go to market, to understand the wholesale gas prices, work through B2B markets, and do financial modeling to create compelling propositions. The main difficulties were comprehending the needs of the various stakeholders and finding balance. Although she admits overcoming these difficulties, understanding the overall business gave her perspective.

Patel accepted her current role with Twitter Exchange because she recognized the passion and drive of social media and the real depth of social data, real-time bidding and relevancy. She was a Twitter user who loved the product and understood the potential of Mopub. She was sure the technology platform was going to be a game-changer.

logo 1 (white high res)
She was a Twitter user who loved the product and understood the potential of Mopub. She was sure the technology platform was going to be a game-changer.

A Satisfying Position

There have been many satisfying moments in Patel’s career, she tells us, but the time that keeps her grounded was helping to build an ad network that started out as a sole trader in advertising and grew to a team of more than two hundred around the world. She says, “This experience was humbling, as this particular ad network founder showed me where he had created the vision of his business and how he conceived his idea in his small retail store, and has now become a massive million dollar business.”

She emphasizes, “I love the gaming industry because it resonates so well with me as I help young entrepreneurs who have a passion to enjoy games, build amazing games, and overcome the many challenges they have to become successful. Helping those smaller companies or individuals think about engagement and adoption builds their confidence to create great products.”

sonal on piano
When Patel describes her work, she claims there is no ‘normal’ day, and she loves working in such a dynamic and differing landscape.

When Patel describes her work, she claims there is no ‘normal’ day, and she loves working in such a dynamic and differing landscape. She states, “The vibrancy of Asia from the cultures, customs, languages, and advertising maturity keeps me intrigued, busy, and learning every day.” She believes the main qualities necessary to thrive in this environment are listening, patience, humility, and respect for others. Her skill in advertising comes from recognizing opportunity; she notes that sometimes it is harder to walk away from a deal than to sign it. JAPAC is a market with wide economic disparity. Mobile phones and tablets are the first way for many people to get to the internet; this has created a surge of information-hungry users who want to experience everything from games to video to knowledge.

A Disruption in the Industry

Patel is seeing a huge change in the industry coming from the disruption of the media buying landscape and the utopia of relevant audience. Small gaming companies have limitations on their advertising budgets, so they use as much data as possible or a platform that allows them to find a relevant audience to download their games, and then spend money where the ROI is going to be positive. The thirst for user acquisition pushes technology players to layer on as much data as possible that will be insightful to help an advertiser find the right inventory to click or convert a user.

“Relevancy is at its most potent in real time; when it collides with opportunity and engagement to result in a purchase.”

In Patel’s career, she has seen a tremendous evolution in understanding the relevancy of advertising. She insists, “Relevancy is at its most potent in real time; when it collides with opportunity and engagement to result in a purchase.” But it has been difficult to move advertisers from the guaranteed premium mindset to thinking about real-time bidding and ad exchanges. When working with clients in mature markets like the US and UK, she saw a lot of apprehension on such a sophisticated technology play in advertising. But it started the tech revolution in advertising we are seeing today. The days of buying impressions because of the belief of a publisher’s user base are gone; the return on investment has become paramount.

Patel emphasizes that the disruption in the advertising world over the last five years has turned the industry on its head. Today, content is channeled across many media, which include opportunities for consumers to communicate directly back to the advertiser. So advertisers must have the resourcefulness, creativity, and drive to think on their feet while keeping the conversation and engagement with the consumer going, and they must do it in real time. She advises, “Keep relevant and keep responding to new advertising trends to realize your market potential.”

The biggest trend she sees coming in the digital industry will result from the emergence of cloud computing, giving big data the ability to grow and become reality. Big data, the connectivity of the web to our lives, gaming, and the possibilities of biotechnology will drive the adoption of the Internet of Things. During the next three to five years, she expects to see the consolidation of the digital landscape, the effect of disruption between e-commerce, 3D printing, video gaming and mobile. Programmatic Real Time Bidding will become a mainstay way to buy media.

Sonal Patel will be discussing more about Programmatic Real Time Bidding during Casual Connect Asia 2014. More information on her session can be found on her conference website.

 

Exclusive InterviewsPR & Marketing

Gearbox’s Steve Gibson on the catharsis of Borderlands and promoting a legend

December 13, 2010 — by Vlad Micu

IMG_7944.jpg

Having joined Gearbox two years ago, VP of Marketing Steve Gibson found himself in the middle of the studio’s structural change that allowed for daring and adventurous projects such as Borderlands and more recently the further development of Duke Nukem: Forever. We sat down with Gibson to talk about the upbeat atmosphere at the Gearbox headquarters, the catharsis of Borderlands and promoting Duke Nukem: Forever.

This life-size Claptrap replica lives in the Gearbox lobby where it provides companionship to both visitors and the office’s receptionist.

When Gibson entered the marketing team at Gearbox around the same time Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway was released, he found himself inside a studio that was going through structural changes. “I can’t speak for everybody at the studio, obviously,” Gibson admits. “But the impression I have is that for a lot of years Gearbox was working within the confines of the Half-Life universe. With the Brothers in Arms franchise, the confines were in making a new world plausible and authentic. So there was a lot of structure to the design, the characters and everything else.”

Witnessing the studio freeing itself from a strict structure demanded by the franchises they’d worked on, Gibson noticed that the Borderlands project proved to be more than just a creative change of pace. “Borderlands ended up acting as a catharsis,” Gibson argues. “I think a big part is the way Borderlands started and the way it ended. People were still rolling out of the strict structure of what they’d been doing for the past five-plus years.”

Having ‘the look’

Gibson and his marketing team in action with ‘Minister of Art’ Brian Cozzens (left)

Even though Borderlands started out with a strict mindset, Gibson noticed the development team gradually realized the potential of its new found freedom. “It got wilder and wilder,” Gibson recalls. “The art style bubbled up from this new freedom and everything started feeling like fun and games.”

”One of the hardest parts of the job when trying to get people to look at games is having something that is interesting to look at.”

Experiencing so many changes from a PR & marketing perspective might be hard to handle, but Gibson says otherwise. “It made my job a lot easier,” he admits, “It did!.” Everybody had to look. “One of the hardest parts of the job when trying to get people to look at games is having something that is interesting to look at. Just in the fact that we did a very dramatic change, which was perceived to be late in development, everybody was looking.” While the perception of rapid change got everyone looking at Borderlands, Gibson fully focused his efforts on showing the press and public the quality of the game.

It’s alive!

Pitchford and Gibson
Pitchford and Gibson charting the course ahead towards a Merry Christmas, followed by a bright and prosperous 2011.

During this interview, Gibson and Gearbox President Randy Pitchford were presenting Duke Nukem: Forever to the Dutch press during the Firstlook game event in Amsterdam, taking their first step of a long and tiresome press trip all around Europe. “I remember working on a website ten or twelve years ago and thinking that this game is going to come out one day soon,” Gibson recalls. “Ten years later, I’m still working at a website thinking this game is never coming out.”

Finding yourself managing the marketing of that same project a couple of years later was summed up by Gibson in one word: “Surreal”. “I think is a lot what we say,” Gibson admits. “In our department, we had a couple of guys work on the press release to announce it for the first time. Every few minutes we’d stop and be like ‘I can’t believe I’m working on this’. To be on that flipside, is just absolutely crazy. It’s hard to describe.”

“Everybody has a story of how they interacted with this game, sometime, somehow.”

Promoting Duke Nukem: Forever, Gibson found himself in the rare situation of promoting a legend that had already touched almost everyone he met. “Everybody had a story of how they interacted with this game, sometime, somehow,” Gibson says. “Different publishers, different developers, all kinds of people passed through it. It’s been really weird running into a guy that tells me ‘Hey, I worked on that concept seven years ago. It looks completely different, but I did want to do it in a stadium’.”

Duke Rising

A towering Duke banner with a tiny Steve Gibson below it

Gibson faced a big challenge keeping everything secret during this year’s PAX gaming expo. “We knew word was going to leak that it was coming,” Gibson recalls. “But we had this panel that was on Sunday, we had an investor call the day before. All those things would point that we would make an announcement.”

“There are some things that people talk a lot about, even if it was from a long time ago.”

The big secret would eventually be preserved until the final moment. Duke Nukem: Forever would be hands-on playable at PAX. The revelation of not only its existence, but the actual witness accounts of it being playable resulted in the game’s title topping all Twitter trends and catching the world’s attention in one big blow.

Legacy of Duke

Gibson suddenly points to a random gamer trying out the Duke Nukem: Forever demo next to us during our conversation. “This guy was 4 years old when Duke came out. He’s enjoying it, he stood in line to play it!” The legacy of Duke seems to have continued on. “Star Wars also lived on through parents down to their kids,” Gibson argues. “There are some things that people talk a lot about, even if it was from a long time ago.”

Calling the atmosphere at the Gearbox offices ‘giddy’ and admitting to having to force his own colleagues from the marketing department to go home late at night to catch some sleep, Gibson is currently enjoying a rare commodity for many PR & marketing folks out there: promoting a legend.

PR & Marketing

KidZania’s Cammie Dunaway on Nintendo’s Influence in Her Work, Applying those Lessons, and Change through Fun

November 17, 2010 — by Gamesauce Staff

cammie_crop.jpg

KidZania's Cammie Dunaway

Cammie Dunaway saw a future for games emerge when she ran Sales and Marketing at Nintendo of America. She recently took a moment with Gamesauce to share where she’s been, her current work at KidZania and where she’s going in large part because of the games industry.

Marketing a Vision


Nintendo sparked Dunaway’s attention in many ways. “I was attracted by the vision of expanding video games outside of the traditional audience. I really responded to [Nintendo’s CEO Satoru Iwata’s] belief that everyone from 5-95 is a potential gamer,” Dunaway shares.

”I really responded to [Nintendo’s CEO Satoru Iwata’s] belief that everyone from 5-95 is a potential gamer.”

Dunaway’s background involves connecting with customers. She isn’t exclusive to the games industry, having also grown large brands such as Doritos and Cheetos. That valuable experience, not to mention her tenure as CMO of Yahoo!, made her appealing to Nintendo of America. Recently, she left Nintendo and was appointed the US President and Global CMO of KidZania, but she has taken valuable lessons with her.

Lessons at Nintendo

Working at Nintendo was a natural fit for Dunaway, partially because of her interest in branding, but also because of her family’s interest in games. “My son thought it would be really cool to have a Mom who spent all her time thinking about video games,” she admits. “He loved it when I brought work home!”

When Wii Fit launched, Dunaway was inspired. “Who would have imagined that a video game company could become the world’s largest seller of bathroom scales! Wii Fit really taught me that if you make something fun, you can change people’s behavior. It is pretty powerful to use gaming mechanics like achievements and unlocking content to encourage consumers to do something positive like exercise.”

”[…] if you make something fun, you can change people’s behavior.”

Applying Lessons


The importance of learning and changing behaviors through gameplay stuck with Dunaway. When she took her position at KidZania, she had bountiful experience to draw from and special insight from the games industry.

KidZania’s parks are much like live-action video games. The company builds kid-sized cities where children learn about jobs and economics through role-playing. They can be anything from doctors, to fireman, to veterinarians, to fashion designers, and more in a real world setting. Much like games, achievements are awarded. However, there’s an added value of education when tasked with using awards. “Kids get paid for their work in our currency [KidZos] and make decisions about saving and spending,” Dunaway explains.

At Nintendo I saw the potential for education and entertainment to come together and make a difference in the world.”

The parks are hugely successful in cities like Tokyo, Dubai, Lisbon, and Mexico City. Dunaway’s job is to bring them to the US, as well as to build new global revenue streams through merchandising and the web.

So far, Dunaway’s biggest challenge is seeing how quickly she can get her team built and get a park open in the US. “Inspiring and equipping kids is critical to our future so I want to get KidZania here as fast as I can make it happen!” says Dunaway.

Dunaway is excited about the potential for change and the forward motion in her career. “At Nintendo I saw the potential for education and entertainment to come together and make a difference in the world. At KidZania I get to make it happen in a very powerful way.”

Cammie Dunaway is hard at work building her team for KidZania US.

PR & Marketing

Nevosoft’s Julia Lebedeva on creative PR, reviewing games and developers from Mars

November 10, 2010 — by Vlad Micu

MG_1004.jpg

Nevosoft's Julia Lebedeva“I never imagined that I would work at an IT company,” Nevosoft’s PR manager Julia Lebedeva admits. Before joining Nevosoft and making her first plunge into the games biz, Lebedeva was a radio talkshow host at the Europe Pulse radio station in Tomsk, Siberia. “But now I’m here, I feel like it was my fate. I loved radio, for sure, but games are another field of entertainment. Like with listening to radio, people who play our games feel better, feel happier.” We sat down with the lively miss Lebedeva to talk about her creative PR work, reviewing games and making games for women.

Express yourself

Julia Lebedeva and her colleagues posing with the 2010 'best TYYCON/Sim Game of the year' Great Games Award  for Nevosoft's 'My Kingdom for the Princess'
Julia Lebedeva and her colleagues posing with the 2010 'best TYYCON/Sim Game of the year' Great Games Award for Nevosoft's My Kingdom for the Princess

When Lebedeva joined Russian casual game developer Nevosoft as a public relations manager, she was fresh out of her job at the radio station and looking for a new challenge.

”I have experience in another entertainment sphere and it let me bring ideas from another angle, a completely new perspective than what they were used to.”

”I didn’t have much experience in this sphere, but they hired me because they wanted a creative person,” she recalls. ”A person with ideas. That’s the great thing about Nevosoft. I have experience in another entertainment sphere and my job let me bring ideas from another angle, a completely new perspective than what they were used to.”

Catering to a very broad demographic due to Nevosoft’s casual titles, Lebedeva made sure she took every opportunity to come up new ideas that appealed to the developer’s loyal customers.

The game reviewer

Julia Lebedeva in the office's studio she set up to record her game reviews in
Julia Lebedeva in the office's studio she set up to record her game reviews in.

“The greatest thing about working at Nevosoft is that the guys, the bosses, the directors, they are really open to all ideas,” Lebedeva admits. Most recently, Lebedeva started making reviews of the games that are launched on Nevosoft’s own game portal, partially returning to the ambience of her old radio studio. “It was just an idea, I offered to do it and they said, ‘Ok, do it’. It has been pretty successful.” Lebedeva’s reviews not only turned her into a popular figure within Nevosoft.ru’s own community of approximately 600,000 Russian speaking registered users, but has rewarded her with hundreds of comments about her work by the community and thousands of views on her reviews on YouTube.

“People appreciate this honesty.”

Aside from purchasing professional gear and building a small studio in the Nevosoft office, Lebedeva takes her reviewing work very seriously. The reviews consist of a weekly top three of the four games Nevosoft releases each week, which she plays extensively to write up the biggest pros and cons of each project. “I try to show it from different angles,” she says. “People appreciate this honesty.”

Social engagement

Supercow, one of Nevosoft's mascots, doing the voice work for his own game.
Supercow, one of Nevosoft's mascots, doing the voice work for her own game.

The Nevosoft.ru website Lebedeva publishes her reviews on has turned into a full-fledged social network of players in the past couple of years. ”They write really great reviews of games,” she adds. Her reviews have proven to not only maintain that level of engagement, but spark a lot more in the process when Lebedeva sometimes quotes users on their reviews. “They’re happy that they are appreciated, valued and it even makes them want to write better and better,” she admits. Users can blog, play and do other activities that other users can give points for, resulting in a constructive community that Lebedeva has to deal with. “I think it’s important that they have this opportunity to give each other plusses or minuses on their activities.”

“I’m trying to make people know us and love us.”

Like any creative person, Lebedeva is not a fan of routine work. Talking to press and writing press releases are an acceptable part of the job, but hasn’t stopped her from looking for something that makes her proud of her work. Since her first game review video in June, the effort required to make her reviews hasn’t lost it’s flair. According to Lebedeva, one of the reasons it hasn’t become boring is the positive responses she’s received from the Nevosoft.ru community, closely reminding her of her own days at the radio station. The number of comments Lebedeva receives on her reviews and the Nevosoft development blog are easily comparable to any popular international game website. “I’m trying to make people know us and love us,” she admits.

No routine

Julia Lebedeva invited the winner of a competition (lady with the mushroom hat) on the Nevosoft.ru portal to receive her prize - a digital camera.

Most PR people would be surprised by the directions Lebedeva has taken in her job as a PR manager. But after seeing the results of her work, the success of her engaging and personal approach to PR is undeniable. “There’s always something new,” Lebedeva argues. But that’s not all. Lebedeva combines her PR work with being the partner relations manager at Nevosoft. “I’m looking for non-Russian developers who want to explore the Russian speaking market,” she says.

”Russian users really hate badly translated games.”

Her work with foreign developers doesn’t stop there, since Lebedeva also does the localization for projects that need to be translated into Russian. Her love for languages and a job as a translator during her last year of college took care of that for her. “Some people just translate the words, but the context is the most important thing,” argues Lebedeva. “To localize a game, you have to play it and like it. For me, it’ a matter of honor. Russian users really hate badly translated games.” Because of the expense of professionally localizing voice-over tracks for casual games, Lebedeva is currently also considering taking on this task. “I have my own microphone, I can do it,” she says. “It wouldn’t be for the money, I just like it.” Lebedeva can’t be happier about her job, which she feels was made for her.

Developers from Mars

“How do you guys, who do not understand our logic, thoughts and needs, make games for us to enjoy?”

When Lebedeva sat down to talk with us about her work at Nevosoft, she had just given a talk at Casual Connect Kyiv appropriately titled ‘What Martians Don’t Know? Mistakes Made by Alien Invaders.’ Her talk was the result of asking herself who actually made the games she was reviewing for the Nevosoft community. As an experiment, Lebedeva counted the game credits from 50 games. She found that 95% of the developers working on the casual games for the Nevosoft.ru portal are male, while more than 83% of Nevosoft.ru’s users are female.

Based on John Grey’s famous book, Lebedeva concluded that she was dealing with developers that truly came from Mars, while all the players come from Venus. So she asked herself “How do you guys, who do not understand our logic, thoughts and needs, make games for us to enjoy?” With a strong sense that this has lead to mistakes in some games, Lebedeva decided to prove her thesis by interviewing a large group of female Nevosoft.ru community members. “I took a camera and went to the streets to interview girls,” she recounts. “Then I invited some users from our portal to our offices.” She ended up spending three full weeks conducting interviews and making videos at the office, teaching herself how to operate a camera and edit videos.

Lebedeva presented her findings during her Casual Connect Kyiv presentation a couple of weeks ago. Most of the games directed at girls that Lebedeva looked at ended up being largely based on female stereotypes and had some design mistakes. In real life blonde girls turned out not to love pink, male characters could look more cute and hidden object games could use objects which are more familiar to women instead of wrenches or other power tools. Lebedeva also stole the show at Casual Connect when she turned the tables on all the male developers by showing a video where she asked the same female community members what the game developers looked like.

All the results of Lebedeva’s inquiries are available on the Nevosoft YouTube channel.

logo
SUPPORTED BY