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.
When GiGse 2017 touches down in San Diego later this April, it will be with an unflinching eye toward the future. While there will be a variety of topics discussed at the conference – virtual reality, social casino, skill-based games, esports, mobile integration, and more – all of it will focus around the next generation of casino gaming: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Rob Gallo sat on a panel discussing social and real money poker at Casual Connect USA 2014. He discussed using a real random number generator in a social gaming environment. “The only way it really works is if the player has an opportunity to gain some sort of rewards, not based on winning or losing, but on activity,” he said.
Rob Gallo is president of Peak Gaming Group, a consulting company that helps land-based casinos understand and navigate the online gaming space. He founded this company in 2010 after selling his online casino and poker room. The Peak Gaming Group methodology is to do what Gallo calls “Reverse Engineer Success.” They start from where you want your business to be and work backwards to where you are to form a step-by-step plan to get there. By instituting milestones and KPI along the way, the organization can stay on track to reach their goals and objectives on time.
He has also recently founded Neo Poker Lab Corp. His experience in running Omni Casino and SunPoker from inception in 1997 until sale in 2010 is of value in his new ventures because it has helped him understand the complexities involved in building and sustaining an enduring online gaming business.
The time in his career that brought him the greatest satisfaction occurred when SunPoker held a charity poker event called “Helping Hand” in 2006. The event included a tournament and a Chinese auction and raised $170,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Mobile Influence
The one trend that Gallo expects to most affect the games industry as a whole is mobile. But Gallo believes the coming trend that will most affect his particular business is user acquisition. He foresees that the costs of user acquisition for real money poker players in regulated markets will continue to climb. However, with their new poker app, Neo Poker Bot, Peak Gaming Group is poised to capitalize on that trend through their affiliate and B2B licensing relationships.
Neo Poker Bot is a web and mobile poker app that allows players of any skill level to play against the most entertaining and advanced artificial intelligence. It is a cross between Zynga Poker and Candy Crush with an optional helping of Lumosity. The platform provides tips and suggestion for optimal play in every scenario to improve the user’s poker playing skills. The technology can also track every player’s progress and offer such perks as a seat to the WSOP main event as a player reward.
When not involved with his businesses, Gallo enjoys golf, poker and catching fish. He insists that just fishing is boring; the catching is the fun part.
“The global gaming/gambling industry is off the charts compared to what the games industry is,” David Chang said during his session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “Globally, it is almost a 400 billion dollar industry.”
David Chang is a gambling man, although he doesn’t really gamble. Currently the CMO at Gamblit Gaming, Chang called the opportunity to work at Gamblit an interesting opportunity since he is not an active gambler himself. “I find the gambling games that are offered today as pretty boring,” he says. “The opportunity to create gambling games that I would personally find interesting was something I couldn’t resist.”
From One Discipline to Another
Chang has been a gamer practically his whole life and owned every game platform since the Atari 2600, loving them all — though he has a particular fondness for the Apple 2C, as it’s the first system he learned to program on and used to play his favorite game of all time: Wasteland.
So it’s no surprise that when he got the opportunity to join the games industry doing work with IGN, he leapt at the chance and never looked back.
While Chang’s college education is in law and philosophy, he’s found both help in the game industry as well. “Philosophy itself is a very creative discipline and I feel that it has helped tremendously when it comes to game design. I find that I automatically gravitate to analyzing game mechanics and what behaviors/actions a game is attempting to reward or discourage,” he says. “(Law) has also helped on the business side of the industry. There have been a lot of legal issues that have arisen in my career in the games industry and due to my legal education, I feel that I had a better grasp of the issues than most.”
Now at Gamblit, Chang spends his time taking care of a multitude of tasks: design sessions, events planning, PR talking points, and regulation compliance — just to name a few. He’s most proud of having got Gamblit’s newest logo approved by its board. He calls the work hectic since Gamblit is growing so fast, but that “it’s a great problem to have!”
Taking a Gamble
One of the things that shocked Chang when he started working in the gaming industry, particularly in relation to gambling gaming, was the risk-averse culture. He notes that the industry is very content-driven, and people tend to follow trends and think alike. “I think this is a product of the fact that it is so highly regulated,” he says.
Because of the business climate, Chang says it’s important for innovators to stick to their guns. He feels that there isn’t a lack of ideas in the industry, but that business realities can keep people from pursuing them. “In order to do something new, you really need to be committed to it and, more importantly, convince other people of it,” he says. “I was fortunate to recognize the potential of item-based games and got into it very early on, but man, I had to convince a lot of people I wasn’t nuts!”
For Gamblit and others in the gambling gaming industry, this means building on top of the classic casino game and venturing into uncharted waters. Chang notes there is no limit to the potential variety of real money games, as long as you are clear to the player what the game rules are and the game and winning conditions are fair. There is only one constant: “At the heart of any real money game are the random element and the game rules you create around that random element.”
Chang says the best way to battle misconceptions about gambling gaming is to be clear about what the product is and getting the product into the hands of consumers. “It amazes me how many people form opinions of products by reading or hearing other opinions about a product — without trying the product itself,” he says. “Once you get a product into a person’s hands, then the person can form their own opinions!”
Chang notes that the industry is beginning to recognize that it must change so it can stay relevant to consumers, and this change is occurring not just on the business side, but also on the regulatory side. “You are starting to see traditional gaming companies try to provide more entertainment aspects to their slot machines – things that resemble a video game in some respects. I think this is an indicator that the traditional gaming companies know that they need to provide more entertainment value in the games they are designing.”
The Future of Gambling Gaming
The trend of the future is digitalization for the entire casino industry. Chang believes digital wallets and digital currency will become widespread and the use of apps to engage casino-goers and keep them informed of all a casino has to offer will also become more commonplace.
On top of that, Chang has also witnessed technology that will likely revolutionize the way people interact with casino games themselves. “I’ve seen some really great touch screen hardware that is about to roll out in casinos that I believe has enormous potential to change the way people interact with games on the casino floor.”
As for Gamblit itself, they plan to be live in the U.K. later this year, something Chang says “will be a major milestone for the company.”