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Matthieu Burleraux: PlayLab in His Pocket

May 14, 2017 — by David Radd

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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.”

Europe 2017Video Coverage

Yuli Zhao: Calling on Angels to Bridge the East/West Gap | Casual Connect Video

May 5, 2017 — by David Radd

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It’s about working with creative people and using heart to discover players’ needs daily. - Yuli ZhaoClick To Tweet

It can be really tough to break into the Asian market, maybe even mysterious. Although there is a large difference in user behavior between Western and Asian players, Youzu Interactive has been very successful in localizing games. They have even been able to make it into the Top 10 in more than 60 countries overseas. In a lecture at Casual Connect Europe entitled Going Global – Local Operation Experience for Over 100 Countries, Yuli Zhao focused on what developers should do rather than what they shouldn’t do. Here is a key finding that Yuli described: “Because there are a small group of deep pocket players, whale players, in Asian games, when we bring the game to Western markets we don’t want to make the non-paying users feel bad about it so there are some items which is to price extremely high in our previous version in Asian market. Actually, we divided these items into smaller packages so that when the players pay for the virtual items, they will view the pricing as not that high but in reality, they need to buy the whole group of virtual items to get the final ones.”

Three of the top world markets comes from Asia are China, North America and Japan. Here are three findings which Yuli highlighted:

  • Style is not fine Art: Glowing effect and outstanding outfit affected why they got features by Apple.
  • Compatibility: Fast frame speed on lower end mobile phone at 20+ a must.
  • Localization: extend the life cycle of the game by changing rewards, difficulty by country and the number of incoming game events.

For more useful tips on how to break through the cross-cultural barrier, see the full lecture below.

ContributionsDevelopment

How I Get Stuff Done

May 4, 2017 — by Industry Contributions

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By Chris Natsuume, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Boomzap Entertainment

I’m a busy guy. I run a game studio that has made over 45 premium casual games in the last decade. I podcast and livestream. In the last year, I’ve traveled to about 20 different cities, spoke at a major game conference about every other month, and found time to climb Mt. Fuji, go trekking in Nepal for 2 weeks, and a bunch of other cool stuff. All of that while being a father, a husband, and having a quality sit-down dinner with my family almost every night. People ask how I find the time. It’s actually pretty simple. I’ll share.

Chris Natsuume is Co-Founder and Creative Director of Boomzap Entertainment

I work from home. This alone saves me 10-20 hours a week. I am not wasting time commuting and all of my breaks are shorter and more meaningful. Lunch? The kitchen is just 20 feet away. I’m done eating in half an hour and most days I get to share lunch with my wife. Want to take a break and read? The couch is right there. And all of the little stuff that needs to be dealt with every week: dentist’s appointments, paying bills, PTA meetings, etc., I fit that in between work tasks and can build the most efficient schedule for it because I never run into the “but I have to go home to do this” problem – I am already there.

I have a really nice workspace. I spend most of my waking life sitting at a desk working so I made sure that the chair I sit in is a good one. My desk is large enough to let me spread out papers, have room to swing a mouse around, and have a couple of monitors to spread out the digital content I need to be putting together. My space has a door. When the world outside intrudes, the door closes, the headphones go on, and I get stuff done. This, of course, is based on your tolerance for distraction. Some people in our company can tolerate a lot more distraction, and smaller working spaces. Some even prefer to work in cafes. This is something you have to test and see. That being said, most people generally benefit from reducing distractions, ensuring they are comfortable, and minimizing the number of outside influences while they work. Incredibly, working at home, even in a very busy home with children, parents, etc. can’t touch an open-office floor plan for creating distractions and annoyances. When I consider how much of the world is forced to work in brutally open floor plans, surrounded by aggressively distracting coworkers breaking their chain of thought… the mind shudders.

Chris in his workspace

Similarly, I minimize digital distractions. Nothing on my computer makes noise. No application has popup notifications turned on. I take regular short breaks between tasks to check internal company chat groups, Facebook, Reddit, etc., but I never let these programs notify me or pull me away from my current task unless someone specifically summons me by name. Any decent internal chat program will let you set up notifications this way, and it’s critical. Even my phone has the ringer turned off, and it’s in another room. When I am working, that time is mine, and short of some major emergency, I don’t allow interruptions.

I schedule ruthlessly. If you want a meeting with me, it gets scheduled. Want to exercise regularly? Schedule. Time with the family? Schedule. I do “date night” once a week with my wife. That’s on the schedule. I go to guitar lessons with my daughter. That’s on the schedule. Think of your schedule like armor protecting you from the people who want to take time from you. You want to talk to me for 2 hours? Sorry, I only have 30 minutes for you in my schedule. Talk faster. You’d be amazed at how much someone can cram into 10 minutes when you only give them 10 minutes.

I avoid “regular meetings” like the plague. If you schedule a regular meeting, you will likely have to make up things to fill it with. Screw that. Treat meetings as evil necromantic spells: every minute you give to them is sucked from your soul. When they are absolutely necessary, I bring a list of what I want to achieve and I only bring the people who need to be there. It’s rare you really need more than 3 people in a meeting – better to have smaller meetings, write notes, and disperse them to the people who just need the info and aren’t actively contributing to the content. Forget big collaboration meetings. The science is clear: collaboration breeds mediocrity. Divy up the work, let people go do, and save the meetings for figuring out how it all works together and what to do next. This is how creative people thrive.

Treat meetings as evil necromantic spells: every minute you give to them is sucked from your soul.

I hire competent people and let them do their jobs. Nothing is a bigger waste of time than hiring someone to do a thing, and then doing it for them. This is a critical management skill, and it takes an adjustment of the mind to do well. Specifically, you have to change your thinking from “Is this what I wanted?” to “Is this good?” The reason you hire experts is because they are better at things than you are. So assume that they will give you something different, and probably better, than your expectation. Back off, look at it objectively, and if it does the job, pull your ego out of the equation and let it be. If you find that you can’t do that because you don’t trust or believe in the work someone is doing, replace them.

Good enough is good enough. I’ve been called “relentlessly Pareto”. I take that as a compliment. I only polish when it matters. The rest I let be. If you see me chatting with the team, my text is full of typos. They know what I mean. This isn’t getting published. I let it be. Our design documents are loose, rough, and produced fast. Our prototypes are ugly. When I give feedback, I take screenshots and scribble on them with the pen in the Windows Snipping Tool. It’s ugly, but the team gets it. Better they get the info ugly now than pretty tomorrow. If it’s not going in front of a customer, it’s only as pretty as it needs to be to be understood.

Screenshot of upcoming game Last Regiment with feedback from Chris

I don’t do email. Email is where information goes to die. If you are writing emails that require more than a few sentences to notify someone of something, you’re doing it wrong. That information needs to be put in a living document somewhere and shared. If I need to talk, I set up a quick call, we talk, I make notes, post them where they can be easily referenced later (we use Basecamp) and that’s referenced on our chat system (we use HipChat). If you need to say something more than a few sentences, document it, text, or call.

I do one thing completely before I do the next. Half of any serious creative task is just figuring out what you need to do, unpacking the details, and then banging them all together into something. If you are constantly shifting from task to task, you’re constantly redoing all of that preparation work, over and over. Stop that. Pick a thing. Do it. Bang on it till it’s done. Then put it out of your mind and move on. Half-done tasks pull at your attention and energy and make everything else you do more irritating and stressful. Clear your mind of these distractions by doing, completing, and moving on.

Pick a thing. Do it. Bang on it till it’s done. Then put it out of your mind and move on.

Sometimes, all of this breaks down, and I am seriously unproductive. It happens. When it does, I get up and walk away. Take a walk. Go to the gym and swim. Take a bike ride. Read a book. There are no bonus points for the number of hours you spend at a desk. If you find that you’ve been at a desk for 30 minutes or more, and have achieved nothing, step away. Recombobulate. Come back fresh. If you don’t, you’re going to just screw around looking at Facebook or YouTube or doing easy busywork anyway. Once you start down that road, you’re gone for an hour or more. Own that time. Make it yours. Shove something else you want or need to do into it.

I have one last, super specific tip: Every night, my last task is to write down the three things I will do tomorrow. I do this on a piece of scrap paper, and lay it on my keyboard. When I wake up and start in the morning, it’s there. Waiting for me. I don’t check email. I don’t do Facebook. I start with item one on the list and start my day. Until that list is done, my day is not over. When it’s done and my scheduled meetings are complete, I can call the day a success, and move on to stuff that I want to do – be that work related or not. This creates a sense of purpose that starts me every day, completion that helps me feel good at the end of the day, and excitement for what I am going to do tomorrow.

That’s largely it. Of course, I don’t keep to these rules 100%. Some days I keep closer to my regimen than others. But I have found that the closer that I keep to this life plan, the happier I am, the more I get done, and the better I feel about myself. Hope it helps.

ContributionsEventsIndieNews

Southeast Asia Part 2: Developers from Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam at Indie Prize

April 25, 2017 — by Yuliya Moshkaryova

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Eight games from Taiwan, one game from Thailand and two games from Vietnam continues the list of developers from Southeast Asia who were selected to participate in the international Indie Prize showcase during Casual Connect Asia 2017 in Singapore.

Game Title: Magnesia
Developer: 18Light Game Ltd.
Platform: PC
Website: www.18light.com.tw
Country: Taiwan

Magnesia is a 2D puzzle game made by 18 Light. Player plays as a little robot Orsted. Explore the mysterious planet Magnesia. This planet contains some special substances which create powerful magnetic force. The substances maintain planet’s resident basic living, but humans are eager to get it due to the energy shortage on earth, so the war begin between three groups, humans that want to conquer, humans that protect Magnesia and residents on Magnesia. In this situation, Orsted has to determine what and who she should trust.

ContributionsEventsIndieNews

Singaporean-based Studios at Indie Prize Singapore 2017

April 22, 2017 — by Yuliya Moshkaryova

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Sixteen games from Singaporean-based teams will be showcased at Indie Prize during Casual Connect Asia 2017 in Singapore.

Game Title: NEO Impossible Bosses
Developer: Edwin Fan LiangDeng
Platform: Desktop Win
Website: neoimpossiblebosses.coder-ddeng.com
Country: Singapore

NEO Impossible Bosses is an RTS-MOBA Raidboss Rush in which you utilize a number of heroes to defeat the IMPOSSIBLE BOSSES!

EventsIndustry

Casual Connect Asia to Host Major Players in Social Gaming

April 18, 2017 — by Casey Rock

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Some of social gaming’s major players will be on hand at Casual Connect Asia this May to discuss success, failure, and the industry at large. Executives from PlayStudios Asia, KamaGames, Huuuge Games, Murka, and more will speak on topics ranging from social casino content to skill-based tournaments.

At a glance

The Social Gaming track takes place on Day 2 of the conference and will kick off with a fireside chat with KamaGames. Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer of KamaGames Daniel Kashti will discuss the social casino industry at large and KamaGames’ strategy within that – as well as discuss the influence of genres such as MMOs and RPGs on the social casino ecosystem and the introduction of meta-games designed to attract the mainstream gamer.

Speakers such as Murka VP of Strategy Mark Beck and Huuuge Games Chairman Wibe Wagemans will discuss innovation and user acquisition in social casino while GameDesire VP Maciej Mroz will talk about different approaches to revenue for free-to-play (F2P) games. PlayStudios Asia Managing Director John Lin will discuss the APAC social games market and whether it is worth diving into for companies.

DevelopmentExclusive InterviewsGame DevelopmentIndie

Alice In Cube: New Angle Of Puzzles

April 7, 2017 — by Orchid

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A director, 2 programmers, an artist and a musician – they’re all from the team of 5 students from Ajou University in Korea, who made the puzzle game of Alice in Cube that would challenge even a seasoned puzzle games player.

“The reason why I created this team was so simple: I just wanted to make games. I was seeking for friends who were passionate about games, like myself, and four months later I finally found them all”, says director and project manager Kim TaeWoo.

Europe 2017Video Coverage

Robby Yung: Delivering the Power of Brands to Kids Apps | Casual Connect Video

March 29, 2017 — by David Radd

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Kids are a loyal audience. - Robby YungClick To Tweet

Kids games in the app store has some of the most diverse content and business models in the game industry. There are many ways to break into this market whether it is by freemium or subscription services. Robby explained that “Today there is a limited content with Premium in the kids category… Other categories have surpassed the premium category, like the subscriptions platforms”. Developers need to keep in mind that apps for kids need to not only be fun. Join Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands, in his session The Complexities of Creating for the Kids Category during Casual Connect Europe 2017 as he describes the positive side of working with brands. “Kids are a loyal audience” after all and “Working with brands can be very exciting even for the development team” were just some of the wisdom that Robby brought during this session. For more information, see his full session below.

Tel Aviv 2016Video Coverage

Omer Kaplan on the Best Practices for the Mobile Market in Asia | Casual Connect Video

March 18, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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Omer Kaplan, CMO and co-founder of ironSource.

No one knows better than Omer Kaplan that Asia is now surpassing the West as today’s mobile epicenter. Omer is CMO and co-founder of ironSource and brings to his work experience in media buying for clients that include mobile publishers, game developers, retailers and major global brands. Omer was director of media at AfterDownload when it was acquired by ironSource in 2013 and uses this extensive experience to mentor early stage startups.

In Omer’s session at Casual Connect Tel Aviv, How is Asia Changing the Mobile Landscape?, Omer delved deeply into Asia’s growing global position and how that will influence advertisers and publishers in the future. As the mobile ecology evolves it is essential to shift focus and learn the best practices to take advantage of the changes. As he described, “Even if you are thinking you are localizing the product and you’re thinking you have the right people and you’ve translated everything, you need to be a ‘China-In’ or have the right Chinese partner to understand how to really reach and connect with Chinese users.”

To learn more about how to adopt the best practices for this market, be sure to watch the complete video of Omer’s session below.

DOWNLOAD SLIDES

More about Omer in this article.

EventsIndustry

Casual Connect Announces Major Changes to Conference Rotation

March 17, 2017 — by Casey Rock

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The Casual Connect game development conferences are about to get even more accessible for professional developers everywhere. The conference’s parent organization, Casual Games Association (CGA), recently announced that they will begin rotating where their conferences take place in order to provide people in different regions with new opportunities to participate in the no.1 casual games development conference in the world.

“Beginning in 2017, Casual Connect will be rotating events between regional cities regularly. We are open to suggestions for which cities our attendees would like to visit. Please email us at jessica.tams@casualconnect.org if you would like your city to be considered in our rotation schedule,” said CGA Managing Director Jessica Tams.

Immediate changes

The first major change occurred with Casual Connect Europe in February – which took place in Berlin instead of Amsterdam. This August the switch-ups will continue, with Casual Connect USA taking place in Seattle instead of San Francisco before moving to Disneyland Resort in California for January 2018. Additionally, instead of a Tel Aviv event in 2017, Casual Connect will host a conference in Kyiv during October – returning to Tel Aviv in 2018.

Jessica notes that while Casual Connect events will be rotating, CGA’s commitment to moving the games industry forward and providing developers, publishers and others with indispensable insights will remain the same. “We will continue to provide thoughtful, cutting-edge coverage on mobile and next generation games, social casino gaming, design innovation, industry insights, market navigation, and more.”

Conference lineup

Here is a look at all the Casual Connect conferences lined up through 2018.

2017

Casual Connect Asia, Indie Prize Singapore
16-18 May in Singapore

Casual Connect USA, Indie Prize Seattle
1-3 August in Seattle, Washington, USA

Casual Connect Kyiv, Indie Prize Kyiv
October in Kyiv, Ukraine

2018

Casual Connect USA, Indie Prize California
16-18 January at Disneyland® Hotel, Disneyland® Resort, California

Casual Connect Europe, Indie Prize London
29-31 May in London, United Kingdom

Casual Connect Tel Aviv, Indie Prize Tel Aviv
September in Tel Aviv, Israel

Casual Connect Asia, Indie Prize Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

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