Marketing a game developed for children comes with its challenges. Dealing with COPPA regulations in addition to the always-changing digital marketing landscape, can make it difficult to execute an effective user acquisition campaign. In his Casual Connect USA session, WildWorks’ Mitch Smiley explained how to embrace the challenge and run an ROI-positive campaign, with success stories and learning opportunities from the leading web-based kids game in the US, Animal Jam.
At Casual Connect USA, Bryan Bennett, Vice President of Marketing at AGS Interactive, was part of a panel that addressed the essential question in the game industry: how to realize a profit with your game. And while the question sounds simple, navigating the answers to it is considerably more complex. How, for example, do you find and acquire the highest value users, how do you succeed on Instagram or make the best use of Facebook ad products. Should you expand your business into other geographic markets and how do you decide which ones.
The methods of monetizing that developers have been using in free-to-play no longer work with today’s sophisticated audiences according to Greg Costikyan. Greg is the Senior Game Designer for Boss Fight Entertainment, with a career in the game industry that has spanned three decades and included more than 30 commercially published games. During this time Greg has received honors that include the IGDA Maverick Award for “tireless promotion of independent games”, five Origins Awards and is an inductee into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame.
But after all this experience, Greg emphasizes that effective monetization is essential for a game to succeed. In the past, monetization methods have included hard gates, painful pinches and spammy calls to monetization: crude methods that players no longer tolerate. Games are about delighting players, but now the call to monetization must also delight. Not only that, players can only be retained if they feel their money has been well spent. To learn more about Greg’s ideas on how to accomplish this, watch this video of the full session from Casual Connect USA.
For more about Greg Costikyan, see this exclusive article.
Will Hummel is the Manager of Global Investment at Perfect World. As such, he works as part of Perfect World’s Global Investment team, with a focus on investment and M&A in the U.S. and Europe. He works to expand Perfect World’s portfolio, which is important since the company recently returned to being publicly traded on the Shenzhen A-share Index. Will has worked as a lawyer for years, but shifting his focus from legal debt restructuring to game financing was a conscious decision.
With Asia currently trending in the games market, companies both within and outside the region take a closer look at all possible opportunities related, including investments. The right investor can not only bring you the right user platforms, but also the right relationships to other potential partners. Amy Huang, AVP of NetEase Capital, whose portfolio consists of top game studios which span the world, dived into these questions in their session at Casual Connect USA 2016. “When you are building your financial forecast, you want to be realistic in the predictions. What you can deliver based on the metrics that you already know about your game and then you do the math for them. Convince them that this is a positive investment. That is something that very much aligns the expectations”, they explained.
The casual games market isn’t going anywhere else than towards growth, says 24/7 Games’ CEO John Battagline, who created their studio from scratch, on their own, with no money, years ago. They released themed versions of games like sudoku, poker and blackjack: this made sense because of a well-established audience, but not intellectual properties in the traditional sense, that those games have. Now, they’re reapplying the lessons learned, with the new label, Burger Circus. “If you re-skin, re-purpose and recycle, you will rapidly create a lot of products, and every single one of them will allow you to gradually accumulate an audience. Hopefully you are going to hit a slam dunk and get a ton of users. The idea is that this will have an upward spiral effect”, John explained in their Casual Connect USA session, sharing the experience of crafting their game, RogueMON, on a don’t-quit-your-day-job budget.
Two years ago Larry DeMar, President of Leading Edge Design, predicted that the game industry would soon be seeing more and more convergence, certainly with console, PC and mobile, but also in the slots arena between brick and mortar, online and free-to-play. And today, given the regulatory market in real money gaming, that convergence may be more important than ever. At Casual Connect USA, Larry was part of a panel discussing how social casino may be the answer to the restrictions on real money gaming and how social casino studios can work with land-based casinos and other real money gaming companies.
Innovation with Pinball
Larry DeMar is an industry veteran who has been making a variety of games on different platforms for all kinds of industries for more than 35 years. Shortly after graduating from MIT, Larry began working for Williams as part of the team that created Defender, Stargate, Robotron 2084 and Blaster as well as innovating and developing pinball machines, dominating the industry in the 1990s.
The Insecurity that Results in Greatness
During this time, Larry was fortunate to work on some incredibly successful projects with outstanding developers. For example, Defender was one of the best-selling games ever, created by a small team in what seemed an impossibly short timeframe. And Larry discovered what makes the best developers the best: they all share a high level of insecurity that keeps them tuning and refining and piling on feature after feature that often results in greatness.
Leading Edge Design
In 1999 Larry and brother Steven DeMar decided to co-found Leading Edge Design. Their company focuses on the casino environment and creating innovative concepts there. Their work has been a true team effort and includes Scott Slomiany, Duncan Brown and Bill Grupp from Larry’s time working with pinball at Williams, as well as Mark Molitar and Brian Jared. Larry emphasizes, “Everyone on our team contributes to our games, and you never know who will have the next great idea. This was the philosophy that the best at Williams/Midway always followed.”
Collaborating in the Free-To-Play Space
Leading Edge Design has recently collaborated with Ruby Seven Studios and 2 by 2 Gaming on three apps. These contain their hit casino games, Multi-Strike Poker and Gems Wild Tiles. They have also collaborated with original new games in Ruby Seven Video Poker, Tropworld Casino and Lucky North Casino in the free-to-play space. Their current projects include expanding these products and working with Ruby Seven Studios on other apps in the social casino category.
Be sure to watch this video of Casual Connect session “From Real Money to Social B2B” and learn more on Larry’s vast experience creating innovative gaming concepts, and how real money gaming can work in conjunction with social casino.
Bob Heubel, a haptic technology evangelist for Immersion Corporation, specializes in helping developers implement force-feedback, tactile-feedback or rumble-feedback effects. With more than 16 years of assisting developers in designing and programming tactile sensations into their games and interactive experiences, Bob holds a number of patents in the field of Haptics.
Bob was one of the judges for the Indie Prizes at Casual Connect USA, and after the award ceremony, participated in the Meet the Jury Panel. With the other members of the Jury, Bob shared experiences in playtesting, what they look for, and what particular elements were crucial in the winners’ success. To learn more, watch this video of their discussion.
For more information about Bob Heubel, click here.
Toys to Life has proven to be something to follow in the games industry. Join representatives from Spin Master, Anki, LeapFrog and Seebo at a Casual Connect USA panel as they discussed product inception, success stories, mechanics and where Toys to Life is going. To those already in the Toys to Life business, Orit Wohl, Business Developent Manager of Seebo, advised “You should use your analytics to continue improving your [Toys to Life] product even after you release it.”
“Go play with friends” is now applicable to and executable with gamer kids too, through co-located social games – games you play together in the same physical space. Super League Gaming’s Andy Babb shared their story at Casual Connect USA of joining this side of video games industry, as well as discussed the future and recent successes of social play in the panel with Sleeping Beast Games, Mattel, GameCake and Jago Studios: from mobile games to mobile-physical hybrids, from tabletop games to interactive toys and ‘toys-to-life’, AI and family robots in the home to large-scale location-based shared VR play spaces.