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Europe 2018Video Coverage

Brian Schwab: A More Intimate Connection to Technology | Casual Connect Video

October 13, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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I try to not only have a good idea, but to fully understand my audience as far as possible. - Brian…Click To Tweet

Mixed reality is the combination of the real world with digital content, allowing developers to bring games and interaction to the real world around you. This relatively new medium presents a number of unique challenges not normally faced by “normal” game AI. Because both the real world and the virtual world need to understand the other, AI and data parsing are huge areas for AI work. In a talk called Bringing Pixels To The World at Casual Connect Europe 2018 in London, Aleissia Laidacker, Interaction Director and Brian Schwab, Director of Interaction Lab at Magic Leap
discussed the ins and outs of mixed reality. This session explained the “what, why, and how” of mixed reality to develop truly immersive experiences. Instead of bringing you into the story [like screen games in MR] the digital objects are in our world, like Roger Rabbit. Tune in to the session below for more insights.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Aleksey Savchenko: Understanding the Needs of Developers | Casual Connect Video

September 26, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Live your life so you have something to be proud of every day, then let it go and set higher goals. -…Click To Tweet

Are you ready to use Unreal Engine 4 for development in casual genres? Learn how to utilize this amazing tool in smart and effective ways. Tune in to a presentation by Aleksey Savchenko, a licensing manager at Epic Games, at Casual Connect Europe. This session, Unreal Engine 4: Perspectives for Casual, discussed smart and effective ways of using, including tips and tricks of the toolset, optimization and pipeline. Aleksey also concentrated on some specific hypothetical cases in HOG/HOPA genres to give a good example of what can be done with UE4 in this field.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Yuli Zhao: Live Operation in Asian Markets | Casual Connect Video

September 24, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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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.

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For Yuli’s session from Casual Connect Europe 2017 and more insights and career information, see this exclusive article.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Bernard Kim: Increasing the Accessibility of Gaming | Casual Connect Video

September 20, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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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.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Reko Ukko: Balancing Art and Business in Games | Casual Connect Video

September 18, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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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.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Andrey Kuznetsov: Constantly Looking for Opportunities and Innovation | Casual Connect Video

September 17, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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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.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Justin Stolzenberg: Creating True Partnerships with Developers

September 12, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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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.

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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.

Inevitable Challenges

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.

Flaregames was named Best Publisher at the Mobile Games Awards 2018

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.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Owen McCarthy: Pushing Boundaries | Casual Connect Video

September 4, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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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.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Michael Leznik: Using Science to Support Social Casino | Casual Connect Video

August 28, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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If everything agreed with our intuition, we would never have needed the science. - Michael LeznikClick To Tweet

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.

Europe 2018Video Coverage

Launching Video Games in Land Based Casinos with Darion Lowenstein | Casual Connect Video

August 27, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Are you eager to take your video game to the real-money gambling market? What will it take to translate that game into a compelling experience on the casino floor? Darion Lowenstein has the knowledge and experience to answer your questions.

Darion Lowenstein is CMO of Gamblit Gaming, overseeing publishing and marketing for their real-money arcade style games for mobile and for their upcoming hardware launch in casinos. Darion has twenty years of experience producing and directing some of the biggest video games in the industry for companies such as Electronic Arts and Activision.

At Casual Connect Europe, in his session “The Realities of Launching Video Games in Land Based Casinos”, Darion shared his insight into all aspects of bringing video games to the casino floor. These include regulatory hurdles, the size of the market and the lessons learned from creating and introducing original hardware.

Darion insists that there is much more involved than simply taking a video game and putting in the casino. He says, “You really have to make the UI an arcade and casino experience. We take a lot of mobile or known game content and you can’t immediately add gambling and put it on the floor. You’ve got to make it this big, splashy presentation. You’ve got to make it something that really stands out, that competes with a slot machine.

To learn more about how to capitalize on this new revenue stream, be sure to watch the video of Darion’s full session at Casual Connect.

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For more on Darion’s careeer and other professional views, see this exclusive article which includes his presentation at Casual Connect USA 2018.

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