For years, the terms “mobile” and “casual” have been closely intertwined, but Playtika’s Alex Galasso argues that you can no longer assume that all mobile gamers are casual. Player skill levels, logged hours and community involvement are all more consistent with definitions of the hardcore category than casual, he explained in a Casual Connect Tel Aviv lecture. “By not looking at your players as hardcore, you miss marketing opportunities,” Alex said. For more, see Alex’s full lecture below.
The mobile games industry is getting used to the average free-to-play game only converting 2-3% of its customers, but Amazon Developer Evangelist Mike Hines has a different figure in mind: 100%. How? Last year, Amazon announced Underground, a new app store for Android and FireOS with a new approach to monetization — premium apps are offered to users free of charge, and free-to-play apps are available with all content unlocked. Amazon instead pays developers for every minute every user is engaging with their app.
Mike explained some Amazon’s rationale behind Underground during his lecture at Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015: “We would really like more developers to start businesses and submit their apps to our app store. And if we want them to do that, they’ve got to be able to stay in business.”
As for Amazon’s more direct benefits, the increased traffic Underground users bring to the company’s shopping app mean an increase in revenue.
The two-tenths of a cent per minute per user payment does mean developers make money on 100% of users, but it’s not necessarily the best option for every app maker. To help developers determine whether Underground is a good option, Amazon provides a revenue forecasting calculator.
In his session, Mike also described Merch by Amazon, a tool game makers can use to create branded content which Amazon will manufacture, sell and ship, sending royalties back to the creators. Due to unexpected high demand, the service moved to an invite-only system late last year.
To read more about Mike Hines, see this exclusive article.
Have you ever thought nostalgically about your childhood games? What made these games so fun and memorable, and how can we bring some of that magic into the games we design today? During his Casual Connect Tel Aviv talk, Goldy, game designer and founder of Playful Shark, explored how recent top-chart games draw their essence and features from real-life play experiences from our childhood and beyond. He showcased examples and demonstrations that introduce a new perspective for examining contemporary success stories. He explained how to use the same lens as a creative-thinking method for imagining possibilities for the next disruptive gameplay. One tip he gave: “Use the RELAI methodology! Looking back at our playing experience as a child. Reminence, extract essence of good games, look around for physical world solutions and implement the best in your game.” For more insights, tune in below.
When your cost-per-install figures rise above your customer lifetime value, as they have for most of the mobile games industry, that’s when you’re in trouble — at least according to Michael Velkes’ Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015 lecture. “I would say that’s a broken business model,” Michael stated. “But we can overcome.” For Michael’s three tips on repairing your mobile games strategy, see Michael’s full session below.
When making games for kids, it’s not wise to forget to design for parents, as well, according to Funtomic’s Noa Adamsky. During a panel appearance at Casual Connect Tel Aviv in 2015, Noa touched on some of the ways kids interact with their parents through technology. “Kids imitate parents in the way they explore applications,” Noa said. “So for example, if I go into the App Store and I look for the featured games, my kids see me do that.”
The mobile games market is still growing, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier for anybody but the top publishers to survive. When releasing a game, it’s vital to understand the tools — like app marketplace keywords — to give players a chance to find your work.
Bjoern Bergstein, Head of Games for Tivola Publishing, explained the importance of keywords during his Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015 lecture, underscoring his advice with data and examples. “In my opinion, (keywords) are very magical, because they’re free, and if you use that tool right, you could survive among the big players,” Bjoern says.
Looking at the App Store in 2014, only two big players (King and Supercell) controlled nearly half the spots in the U.S. highest-grossing Top 10. Eight of 2014’s Top 10 were published in 2013, meaning that despite a constant flood of new games, none had the power to unseat the current leaders.
Making matters even more unfavorable for new games is the fact that 80% of apps 2014 were zombie apps, meaning they didn’t rank in the top 300 in any App Store category for two of three days or more. No matter how appealing your game may be, this sort of App Store invisibility can have a clear impact. “When you’re not listed, and nobody finds you, there’s nobody to convince,” Bjoern says.
One antidote to over-reliance on ranks and featuring is careful use of keywords and titles, the two largest factors in App Store SEO. Another benefit of focusing on keywords: They’re free, but they can help draw users to your game. If you have poorly-chosen keywords, even if your app is featured, download numbers may drop off quickly after a surge of interest. Strong keywords, on the other hand, will help attract a more steady stream of gamers.
Other tips Bjoern recommends: Pick keywords based on your target audience’s expectations — the gamers you’re going after may expect genre names or certain features, mechanics or settings. Keywords can also include brand names to help cross-promote your apps (so long as they’re your brand names). Focus on one language first, then translate for every country you’d like to release in. Use tools like Google AdWords to find out what people are searching for. And remember that you can update keywords when you update your app, letting you optimize and measure keyword performance over time.
Watch the video below for Bjoern’s full session.
For more on Bjoern’s background, check out this exclusive interview.
Daniel Neumann shared some of ClicksMob’s secrets for attracting new users during his speech at Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015. “Unlike in the past, where gaming back in the ’80s or ’90s was just for gamers, today everyone’s playing,” Daniel said. “(Whether) it’s my 94-year-old grandfather who lives in England, my parents, my uncles — everyone’s on gaming. And the figures are astonishing.”
Over the past few years, many of the mobile games industry’s largest publishers have shut down their third-party publishing operations. Add that to the ever-growing checklist for a successful game launch — localization, app store featuring, monetization, IP licensing and live ops to name just a few — and developers are in a situation where they can benefit from publishers more than ever, but committed publishers are hard to find. Scopely’s Henry Lowenfels observed this shift from the state of publishing in 2012 to now in his Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015 lecture. “The conversation has changed,” Henry said. “It’s turned from ‘Do I really need a publisher?’ to ‘I really need a publisher … if I want to be a top-50-grossing game.'” Watch Henry’s full session below for details on Scopely’s strategy.
During his Casual Connect Tel Aviv lecture, Mirko Topalski spoke about Eipix’s growth through hidden object puzzle adventure games and the company’s efforts to expand into free-to-play offerings. “You can’t understand how big of a challenge (free-to-play game development) is until you actually start,” Mirko said. “It’s hard, hard, hard, hard, harder than you think.”
Aarki’s Sid Bhatt described his company’s programmatic media buying technology and how they work to maximize benefit for developers during his Casual Connect Tel Aviv lecture in 2015. “Our entire thesis for programmatic buying is based on some sort of KPI,” Sid explained. “We tend to focus on ROI, to the extent the developer is able to share.” Find out more in the full session video below.