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USA 2016Video Coverage

Andy Babb: Giving Gamers the Theater Experience | Casual Connect Video

September 27, 2016 — by David Radd

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It’s a dream to be in this business. - Andy BabbClick To Tweet

“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.


Andy Babb is the Executive Vice President of Super League Gaming, managing the company’s game partnerships and overall business development. Getting involved with Super League Gaming all hinged on a meeting with John Miller, one of the founders of the company.

“My friend told me that John ran an international hamburger chain and had started a games company. I thought ‘really? A hamburger guy thinks he can just jump into the games business? Come on!” – detailed Andy. “I met John at a diner and after 10 minutes of him telling me about Super League, I could not sign up fast enough!”

A hamburger guy thinks he can just jump into the games business? Come on!

Andy has grown to love the business and is very complimentary of Super League’s complete team. Along with the people he works with in the company, he notes that there are some “amazing folks” in top game publishers and developers as well.

From Playing the Dream to Living it

Like many other people in the gaming industry, Andy grew up a gamer. He has memories of playing Pong, Atari, Intellivision and the (at the time) revolutionary Mattel Electronics handheld game system. Andy also plunked down quarters playing Donkey Kong and Pac-Man at the local 7-Eleven. His all-time list of greatest games includes Q*bert, Shadow of the Colossus, Half Life, Quake II, Elite Beat Agents and Flight Control.

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Andy Babb is the Executive Vice President of Super League Gaming.

He worked in consulting before deciding to go to grad school in the ’90s, graduating in 1997 and finding an opportunity to start in the industry at SegaSoft. Andy worked on the online gaming network Heat.net that focused on socially competitive gaming, getting experience in both the rising businesses of gaming and the internet.

“Then working at Take Two/2K Games, I really got to understand the business from the publisher side. So now when I meet with publishers about Super League, I have a good idea of their pain points and how Super League can help,” Andy said before adding. “It’s a dream to be in this business.”

Andy later had to overcome tragedy in his personal and professional life in 2007. “My friend and mentor Bill Gross asked me to join him at Brandissimo to start his games business by building a kids MMORPG for the National Football League,” he detailed. “Four months into it, Bill had a heart attack and died. The team was devastated but we rallied around each other and six weeks later launched a virtual world that lasted eight years. It was my saddest and proudest moment in the business.”

Minecraft on the Big Screen

Super League Gaming is focused on playing games in a movie theater. Andy describes the main appeal as being in the same physical space, creating a special sort of camaraderie. Playing games on a large screen with a theater-style sound system results in a “special energy” according to Andy.

Single-player games can be fun in a theater, with the solo experience becoming social and a leaderboard showing progress dynamically. While there’s a wide variety of games that work in the theater environment, Minecraft is the primary focus right now.

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Playing games on a large screen with a theater-style sound system results in a “special energy”.

“We do Minecraft with 100 players in the same map at the same time and it’s wild,” Andy describes. “We’re in beta with a MOBA where we run eight 5v5 games simultaneously, switching between games on the big screen based on the action (first blood, triple kills, etc). And we do 1v1 games, where it’s a massive round-robin tournament so everyone’s always playing, and again we switch between games on the big screen.”

Things are Different in Person

Super League Gaming is expanding at a steady pace at this point, determining which games work and convincing theaters to sign on. They want to make sure the experience is a good one every time, and they’re hoping to include more adults in the experience as well.

“It’s fun to play video games in a movie theater no matter what your age is. So far we’ve been all Minecraft but our next two games target adults,” says Andy. “In beta tests the feedback from adults has been awesome.”

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It’s fun to game in a movie theater no matter what your age is.

While online gamers are not reputed to have the best sportsmanship, playing in a theater helps with the sportsmanship issue that can crop up when the anonymity of the internet allows it. “In general people behave much better face-to-face than when they are anonymously online,” Andy describes. “I can’t speak to the sportsmanship of Super League players when they’re online (I’m sure everyone’s an angel though) but in the movie theater we see great camaraderie, with players almost always cheering the winners after each game.”

Making Others Smile

Moving forward, Andy anticipates expansion in many of the same areas that others in the industry see: eSports, VR and mobile games. They still see opportunities there for Super League, however. “This might sound odd but I think even virtual reality will be more fun when you’re doing it socially in a movie theater,” Andy says.

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Even VR might be more fun if done socially.

Ultimately, Andy loves the business because he feels that what he is doing is something where everyone involved wins. “Gamers win because playing in a movie theater is simply tons of social fun,” he said. “Our movie theater partners win because we’re filling auditoriums at times when they would otherwise be empty. And our games partners win because we’re building social, in-theater communities around their games that last for months and years.”

“The most fun part is producing a game or experience that makes others smile,” Andy concluded.

 

USA 2016Video Coverage

J.C. Connors: A Passion for Helping Game Developers | Casual Connect Video

September 26, 2016 — by Catherine Quinton

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We have 'an unlimited supply of ideas, from practical to outrageously ambitious.' - J.C. ConnorsClick To Tweet

Like games are often inspired and driven by the players, engines can be driven by developers and their needs – this is exactly how things are with Amazon’s Lumberyard. Their Head of Product J.C. Connors presented this roadmap and their vision of industry challenged at Casual Connect USA in a panel with MaxPlay, Unity, King and Epic Games.

USA 2016Video Coverage

Ian Atkinson: Succeeding with Your App | Casual Connect Video

September 25, 2016 — by Catherine Quinton

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You have created a great app and people are downloading it. What can you do from there to ensure the best opportunities for that app to succeed?

AdColony1Ian Atkinson, Vice President of Business Development at AdColony, offered his insights into the steps you need to take in the “Leveling Up Your App Economy” session at Casual Connect USA. At AdColony, Ian delivers high quality inventory for advertisers in the AdColony Network through partnering with game companies and tech vendors while enhancing monetization. Ian brought to the session his expertise, developed through more than twenty years of experience in the industry at both startups and large game publishers, with particular knowledge of emerging digital and interactive entertainment markets.

In this session Ian described how the top mobile app publishers are able to engage and retain users while, at the same time, maximizing monetization. The session analyzed the best practices and must have features of the apps that are doing it right and discussed the importance of an ad network. “Don’t treat ad networks as an ATM machine,” Ian emphasized. “Treat them like a trusted business partner.”

To learn more about how you can give your app the best chance for success, watch this video of Ian’s full session below.

DOWNLOAD SLIDES

For a more detailed article about Ian Atkinson, click here.

Asia 2016Video Coverage

Serena Proudfoot: What’s Coming in Casino | Casual Connect Video

September 24, 2016 — by Catherine Quinton

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Work hard, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, and never give up! - Serena ProudfootClick To Tweet

The time is here when a game studio can manage and build their own consumer relationships through social platforms. At Casual Connect Asia, Serena Proudfoot, Vice President of Production and partner at Oddity Labs, gave pointers on how to create and maintain healthy business to consumer relationships. “It is definitely really important to not only focus on the reviews that aren’t so good and the negative feedback. Focus on the good feedback. Thank people for taking the time to review and to review you well. It definitely goes a long way.” said Serena.

USA 2016Video Coverage

Kevin Chou: Satisfying Your Regulars | Casual Connect Video

September 21, 2016 — by David Radd

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LTV is definitely a competitive role these days – Kevin Chou

Kevin Chou is co-founder and CEO of Kabam, a leading mobile games developer focused on massively multiplayer free-to-play games. Kevin has led the company as the founding CEO from business plan to $400 million USD in annual profitable revenues.

Kevin has secured partnerships with leading game platforms, as well as with Hollywood studio giants such as Disney, Lionsgate, MGM, NBC Universal, Paramount and Warner Brothers for games based on some of the world’s most beloved entertainment franchises. Under Kevin’s leadership, Kabam has made more than $240 million from venture and strategic investors, including some of the world’s largest entertainment and internet companies such as Alibaba, Google, Intel and Warner Brothers.

Kabam’s Marvel Contest of Champions has been downloaded over 83 million times and has grossed more than $350 million in revenue.

Prior to Kabam, Kevin was a venture capitalist at Canaan Partners, investing in consumer internet and digital media companies.

USA 2016Video Coverage

CPI, LTV And the Future of Social Casino

September 20, 2016 — by David Radd

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DAU-UP, hosted a panel at Casual Connect USA titled “CPI Greater Than LTV. Now What?” The participants were Carey DiJulio of Big Fish Games, Nick Talarico of SuperLucky Casino, Aayush Sakya of GSN Games, and Mark Beck, formerly of Product Madness.

dauup-logo_1280_1280During the panel, they discussed UA using Google and Facebook, UA using social media channels like Pintrest and Instagram, and social titles that innovated successfully like Scatter Slots, Big Fish Casino, and Slotomania. They also touched on retaining players to increase LTV, App Store Optimization to increase penetration on iOS devices, the potential of branded IP, and the future of social casino with chat bots and VR.

For the full synopsis and the video of the panel, visit dauup.com.

Asia 2016Video Coverage

Hassan Mehdiasl: Bringing Joy to the World | Casual Connect Video

September 19, 2016 — by David Radd

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Iran is an Android market. From inside Iran you can't access Apple store. - Hassan MehdiaslClick To Tweet

Hassan Mehdiasl is the CEO and Founder of Sourena Game Studio. After establishing Sourena in 2008, their first focus was producing PC games but that has shifted to also providing a way for international studios to publish games in the Iranian market. In their Casual Connect Asia 2016 session they explained how exactly can one enter the above mentioned space. 


USA 2016Video Coverage

Alissa Brodsky: Top Performing Producer | Casual Connect Video

September 18, 2016 — by David Radd

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Social video as a whole exceeds YouTube and other free sources. - Alissa BrodskyClick To Tweet

Young people are exposed to so much marketing since the early age, that they’ve become extremely savvy, and will only watch a video if they’re personally connected to the digital celebrity. This year’s Acumen Report by DEFY Media takes a deep-dive into the video diet of 13-24 year olds, a key target demographic in the growing F2P mobile gaming market. In her Casual Connect USA session DEFY’s Senior Games Producer Alissa Brodsky explained what sources they watch, what devices they use, as well as their attitudes towards digital advertising and what kinds of ads young people find acceptable.


USA 2016Video Coverage

Edward McNeil: Bringing Indie to VR | Casual Connect Video

September 17, 2016 — by David Radd

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As an indie, 'there's nothing quite like having total control of your own art.' - Edward McNeilClick To Tweet

While big companies are likely to enter the VR space in the big way, it is currently an amusing space for the indies to explore and experiment with. In the Casual Connect USA session simply titled How to Pick a VR Platform indie developer Edward McNeil, the creator of Darknet and Tactera from Indie Prize, explains differences between several new VR platforms, including the Gear VR, Google Daydream, Oculus Rift and more, drawing on his experience and perspective after launching two VR titles.

USA 2016Video Coverage

Gigi Levy: Investing in Passionate Creators | Casual Connect Video

September 13, 2016 — by David Radd

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'I work with talented, passionate, creative teams who disrupt various industries' - Gigi LevyClick To Tweet

NFX Guild’s Founding Partner Gigi Levy gets hundreds of emails a month, all from great entrepeneurs, but has to say “no” to 99% of them. You’re a strong team, and you’re building a potentially great game…so why can’t you land that critical investment you’ve been chasing for so long? The answer is probably not as complicated as you think. In the Casual Connect USA panel, Gigi and their colleagues from IDG Ventures, Bullpen Capital, CrossCut Ventures, flaregames and Execution Labs give the no-B.S. reasons why they keep telling you no so that the next time you pitch them you might actually get a yes.

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