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Europe 2014Video Coverage

Nick Thomas on the Importance of Audio | Casual Connect Video

March 20, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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“You want to use time rather than assets to define your scope,” Nick Thomas advised his audience at Casual Connect Europe 2014. “So you can adapt to the game, you can react to the game, and you put the priority on the quality of the product not the asset list.”

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Nick Thomas
Nick Thomas, Co-founder and CEO, SomaTone Interactive

Nick Thomas is Co-founder and CEO of SomaTone Interactive, a company which provides music, sound design, voice over, and audio integration services for gaming and interactive entertainment companies. 2013 was the ten-year anniversary for the company. It was also its most successful year, posting its best financial performance and the release of its best work to date.

Mixing it Up

As a founder of SomaTone, Nick has been involved in every role in the company, including music composition, SFX design, voice over production, mixing, and field/foley recording, as well as everything necessary to grow the company, such as business development, accounting and marketing. As the company expanded, they hired content producers to create the audio assets, and his position transitioned into a creative management role. He now manages the network of studios, leads business development efforts, and creates strategic partnerships with publishers to create the best service pipeline possible.

Over the past ten years, SomaTone has produced music for hundreds of games. This fall, with the release of the soundtrack for the latest Ratchet and Clank PS3 title, Into the Nexus, Nick experienced the greatest moment of his career. The soundtrack included over 100 minutes of music composed by SomaTone’s Michael Bross and Senior Composer Mike Raznik. It also includes a live orchestra recorded in Nashville and mixed in their studio in Emeryville. Nick feels, “The results are truly fantastic. Ratchet and Clank represents a significant milestone in the quality of content we are producing and is a real achievement for SomaTone Interactive.”

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“Ratchet and Clank represents a significant milestone in the quality of content we are producing and is a real achievement for SomaTone Interactive.”

Advancements in Audio

Nick believes the emerging trend that will have the most impact on the games industry is integration. He tells us, “We are on the cusp of a major advance in the technical capabilities of mobile games when it comes to audio management.” Wwise and fMod have both released mobile versions of their audio middleware technologies; Unity has bundled audio management tools in their dev environment. The result is a huge advance in creative resources for audio designers, game designers, and game programmers in audio integration. Games of all types are beginning to take advantage of more advanced audio tools, making the work of creating and integrating high quality audio experiences much more rewarding. He expects to see much higher investment in these tools as mobile games introduce dynamic music and SFX into casual and mid-core games.

SomaTone's Orchestral Session
SomaTone’s Orchestral Session

SomaTone is now aggressively advocating these technologies to their partners and working to increase awareness and expectations from game developers and game players. Since implementation has traditionally been lacking in mobile games, Nick finds this trend a refreshing and welcome change.

 

Europe 2014Exclusive InterviewsOnline

Olga Wese: Working With Passion | Casual Connect Europe

March 19, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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At Casual Connect Europe, Olga Wese announced the release of EZEme Games latest game, The Rainbowers. It went live on the app store on February 20th. Olga Wese is Co-founder of EZEme Games, a company she created with her sister, Tatiana Babiy, and made up of a team of friends. Wese is responsible for business development and marketing and also takes an active part in the product development process, particularly with design and new features. Her previous career experience allowed her to understand the game development process and the game industry, so she was in an excellent position to create her new company.

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Olga Wese at Casual Connect Europe

Stabilizing Free-to-Play Games

She emphasizes that a small company has the advantage of a friendly and informal working environment and the opportunity to carefully choose the employees who are most passionate about their work. Wese’s greatest satisfaction in her career comes from the positive feedback she receives on their products, something which brings happiness to the entire team. Wese believes that over the next two or three years, EZEme Games will be most affected by the trend toward the adoption of free-to-play and socialization in casual games. They are responding to this trend by tuning their game mechanics, introducing new game elements and building truly free-to-play games.

She feels the game industry as a whole will be impacted by the stabilization of free-to-play as well as new monetization solutions and monetization mechanics.

The Rainbowers in the Indie Prize Showcase at Casual Connect Europe
The Rainbowers in the Indie Prize Showcase at Casual Connect Europe

Wese spends her free time reading, running, and enjoying the opportunity to explore as she travels. Her gaming can’t really be considered a free time activity, especially since she is currently playing Farm Heroes to learn about free-to-play. Her favorite platform to play on is iOS; she avoids consoles, preferring to play casual games when she happens to have a few minutes of time available.

 

Europe 2014Video Coverage

Christoph Safferling: Having Fun With Statistics | Casual Connect Video

March 10, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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Dr. Christoph Safferling was part of a panel on videos, esports, and free-to-play at Casual Connect Europe, during which, he told the audience, “Having a free-to-play game means A: that the players can come in more easily and B: also means that the game company has an incentive to keep the game running because it is a service now and it’s no longer just the box title that they’re selling.”

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Christoph Safferling, Head of Game Analytics, Ubisoft Blue Byte

Dr. Christoph Safferling, Head of Game Analytics at Ubisoft Blue Byte, says the obvious developing trend that will affect the game industry in the next few years is mobile. But as a data analyst, he points out there are a lot of very interesting developments in that field. The programming language ‘R’ gets more and more powerful every day; and there are new web applications, including shiny, crossfade, dc.js, and many more that are available right now. As well, specialized new languages like Julia will make work easier and allow real-time applications of statistical models.

The shaking up of the larger game industry, as he sees it, includes, besides mobile, free-to-play, and other bottom-up ways to access or fund games, such as Kickstarter, Steam Greenlight and Appstores.

Fun with Statistics

Christoph became involved in the game industry immediately after leaving university. He had completed his PhD, titled “Three Essays on the Economics of Online Games,” and wondered if there might be any companies looking for exactly what he had done. As it turned out, there were many such companies. He says, “In my current job, I’m always surprised at how much of my ‘university knowledge’ I apply every day. I have built economic models and used econometrics for many years at university, and still continue to do so now in the industry.”

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One of the many games Ubisoft Blue Byte has worked on

All Christoph’s work brings him great satisfaction, but he finds his greatest happiness when colleagues come to him to say that a particular presentation brought “fun with the statistics,” He says, “I like to help other people grasp concepts and laugh while doing so.”

Time Away From Work

When away from work, Christoph enjoys reading and doing some sports, although he insists he is neither erudite nor athletic.

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A map from The Settlers Online, a game from Ubisoft Blue Byte

He has always preferred gaming on PC, so he does not own a console, although he is considering getting a PS4. The games he enjoys most are strategy and RPG games. He is very much looking forward to Watch_Dogs and admits, “I have a soft spot for Paradox Development Studio Games like Europa Universalis or Crusader Kings.” If he is enjoying a free-to-play game, he will spend a few euros or dollars on it right away, finding that he get more enjoyment out of the game that way. But he spends the most on free-to-play MMOs.

 

Europe 2014Video Coverage

Damon Marshall: Native Advertising Formats Adapting to New Devices | Casual Connect Video

March 10, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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At Casual Connect Europe, Damon Marshall announced that SupersonicAds’ engagement-based ad server, Ultra, will now support new ad formats, including non-incentivized ad units, such as video interstitials and static placements, and a variety of native advertising components. This will give publishers an end-to-end platform to deploy a comprehensive ad monetization strategy.

Damon Marshall, Vice President of Business Development at SupersonicAds, got his start in the game industry in 2005 when he joined the Gaming Business Unit of Macrovision. At that time, he was an experienced business development and sales professional. He decided to put his skills to work in the exciting industry of video games at a time when people were still paying $20 to download a game to their PCs. What he enjoys most about being a part of this industry is its ever-changing nature as a form of entertainment that embraces technology to bring fun into many people’s lives.

At SupersonicAds, Damon leads a Publisher Sales Team of seven people. His job is to illustrate to developers and publishers why theirs is the ideal platform for ad monetization. Their goal is to integrate SupersonicAds’ technology into as many apps as possible. Because Damon has been in sales and business development throughout his career, he has made contacts that, along with his expertise in connecting with people, have brought him great success in the two years he has been with SupersonicAds. In 2013, Damon started the Publisher Sales Team from ground zero. By the third quarter, the company had hit their targets for the first time in two years, an accomplishment he feels is the proudest moment of his career.

Damon Marshall
Damon Marshall

It Never Gets Old

Damon tells us he continues in the game industry because he is learning so much, and every day is challenging and never boring. He claims, “It is the perfect mix of entertainment and technology. Even outside the industry, the experience I have gained in games is highly coveted by many companies looking to leverage games for their own objectives.”

The biggest trend impacting the game industry, in his opinion, is the renaissance advertising formats are undergoing as they adapt to new devices and new behaviors. He claims, “We are about to see a major shift in ad budgets to mobile formats, as only three percent of the US ad spend in 2013 ran on mobile. It is a very exciting time to be in consumer tech!”

Damon Marshall presenting at Casual Connect Europe 2014
Damon Marshall presenting at Casual Connect Europe 2014

Making Time for Hobbies

When Damon has time away from his work, he is involved in a number of hobbies, including playing drums in a neighborhood band, golfing, watching live music, cooking and being outdoors. He also loves spending time with his family, especially his five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.

These days, the game he plays most is Fresh Deck Poker – he loves the “first person” view of the poker table. He prefers playing on iOS and does not own an Android device as of yet.

Europe 2014Video Coverage

Casual Connect Europe 2014: A Sweet Homecoming

March 10, 2014 — by Clelia Rivera

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This year was a sweet homecoming for Casual Connect Europe as it returned to the city where it all started: Amsterdam. It may have started with only a few hundred attendees back in 2006, but this time, about 2000 game industry professionals gathered in the beautiful Beurs van Berlage for three days to create new connections and learn more about the industry’s current trends. Over 120 lectures were presented by international speakers from companies such as Wooga, Youtube, Facebook, Google, and GamePoint. Lectures included information useful for the current game market, such as Godus creator Peter Molyneux‘s session on design re-invention, new technology, and mobile development.

Casual Connect isn’t just about the handy lectures, but also the professional relationships that are built through meeting and sharing with close to 1000 other companies in attendance. Whether during the day at the show or the sponsored parties at night, there is always the opportunity to reach out and help foster the growth of the game industry community. This was true not only for the seasoned veterans, but new developers as well. Over 100 indie developers displayed their work at the Indie Prize Showcase held at Casual Connect Europe. In addition, 13 teams won various awards, from Most Innovative Game to Best in Show. The winners can be viewed on the Indie Prize website.

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The Winners of Casual Connect Europe 2014’s Indie Prize Showcase

Looking forward to returning to Amsterdam next year, Casual Connect is currently focusing on the preparations for Casual Connect Asia, held in Singapore May 20 – 22, 2014. Check out the conference website if you are interested in more information: http://asia.casualconnect.org/

If you were not able to make it to Casual Connect Europe (or if you want to relive fond memories), videos of the presentation are available for free on Gamesauce and the conference website.

Casual Connect Europe Videos on Gamesauce:
Erik Goossens: Indie Developers and Advertising
Vicenç Marti: Community First
Inna Zaichenko: A Passion for Games
Scott Foe’s Evil Hilarity
Sebastien Borget on Educational Social Gaming
Yaniv Nizan: Don’t be Afraid to Win
Chris Natsuume: Making a Difference
Robert Winkler: Standing out with Substance
Cristi Badea: Opportunity for All, Even Underdogs
Teut Weidemann: Understanding Why Equals Win

More video articles can be found here.

Other Coverage of Casual Connect Europe:
 7 upcoming indie treats from Casual Connect 2014 in Amsterdam – Pocketgamer.co.uk
Video: Evil Game Design Challenge winner pitches F2P Evil Minecraft – Gamasutra
5 things we learned at Casual Connect Europe 2014 – Pocketgamer.biz
The DeanBeat: Developers need platforms that aren’t always in flux – Gamesbeat
14. Februar: Casual Games Association zeichnet Indie Games aus; Microsoft muss Schlüsselpositionen neu besetzen – Making Games
What Games Are: Going Small – TechCrunch
Spil Games will trigger ads at ‘cliffhanger moments’ in games by indie developers – Gamesbeat
Casual Connect Europe mit neuem Besucherrekord – Gamesindustry.biz
Mobile game Shapist was inspired by ancient Asian block games – Gamesbeat
GameDuell: “Spielerbindung deutlich gesteigert” – Gamesindustry.biz
If you want to score a good publisher, you need to think like a publisher – Pocketgamer.biz
Nextpeer makes it easy to challenge your friends in mobile multiplayer matches – Gamesbeat
Molyneux: “Geld zu verlangen ist kein Recht. Man muss es rechtfertigen.” – Gamesindustry.biz
Casual Connect feiert in Amsterdam erfolgreichen Neuanfang – Gamesmarkt
Is Christmas losing its sparkle? Flurry points to drop off in yuletide download growth – Pocketgamer.biz
The Dutch want gaming startups to sprout like tulips (interview) – Gamesbeat
Casual Connect 2014 • Drie Nederlandse winnaars bij Indie Prize award show – Control
Portrait of a Pretentious Game – Rappler
Casual Connect 2014 • De succesfactoren van Reus, de godgame met een indieprijskaartje – Control
Grand Cru: Console devs are ‘utterly failing’ at in-app purchases – Pocketgamer.biz
Game makers beware: Virtual goods purchases are about to be regulated – Gamesbeat
Casual Connect 2014 • Een bedrijf opstarten doet niemand voor je, vergeet niet te relaxen en wees een ster – Control
Asian companies account for nine of the top 10 game mergers and acquisitions – Gamesbeat
The Godus amongst us: Molyneux talks free-to-play farces, winning without chasing whales and his top score on Flappy Bird – Pocketgamer.biz
Peter Molyneux believes ripping people off with free-to-play games won’t last (interview) – Gamesbeat
Size matters: How to scale your game for overnight success – Pocketgamer.biz
FlowPlay helps developers like Joju Games differentiate their social-casino titles – Gamesbeat
Molyneux: Free-to-play is like ‘smashing consumers over the head with a sledgehammer’ – Pocketgamer.biz
Dandelions benoemd tot beste indiegame Casual Connect – Gamer.nl
Share and share like: Why developers need to care about their sharers – Pocketgamer.biz
Mimimi gewinnt Indie Prize – GamesMarkt
Flappy Bird was the perfect accidental guerilla marketing campaign, says Creative Mobile – Pocketgamer.biz
Casual Connect Amsterdam – Freegame.cz
Mech Mocha Founder Arpita Kapoor Wins Most Prominent Female Indie Award at Casual Connect Europe – Animation Xpress
Casual Connect Europe 2014 – Амстердам – ITC.ua

 

Europe 2014Video Coverage

Marc Mauger on Audio and Casual Casino Games | Casual Connect Video

March 7, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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Marc Mauger showed examples of audio sprites and demonstrated how their custom node-based batching web app made it easier to work with the audio files during Casual Connect Europe.

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Marc Mauger, Software Manager, DoubleDown Interactive

Marc Mauger is Software Manager at DoubleDown Interactive, a leading developer of casual casino games on the internet. Mauger leads one of the teams of DoubleDown’s mobile division. Most of the time, his focus is on inspiring excellence in his team members, but he also spends time programming in Javascript.

Mauger has found his experience in his previous company helpful in his present position through exploring and implementing an HTML5 game. It was both research and development for the company and a deliverable product for the client. The most exciting time he recalls in his career was helping to implement core functionality for a mobile app and then seeing it go from an unknown to the #4 top-grossing Apple app in only one year.

All About the Games

During his free time, Mauger is still involved with activities that benefit the company. He enjoys learning new programming languages and computing concepts. But he isn’t totally immersed in work- related endeavors. His other hobbies are drinking beer, cooking, and walking with his dog.

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His other hobbies are drinking beer, cooking, and walking with his dog.

For his gaming, he prefers to use Xbox 360 and his iPad. Currently, he is playing XCOM on iPad, describing it as awesome. And besides, his Xbox broke. He doesn’t yet own PS4 or Xbox One, feeling that they are too expensive; also, he really prefers the iPad or iMac. Perhaps the broken Xbox 360 will make the Xbox One look more attractive.

Trends and Beyond

Over the next few years, Mauger believes the games industry as a whole will be most affected by mobile gaming. DoubleDown is certainly well positioned to take advantage of this trend with their commitment to providing the best fun to play social casino games. And the success of their flagship game, DoubleDown Casino, certainly is reason for optimism.

DoubleDown was recently acquired by IGT, a move which they believe will combine the excitement and enthusiasm of a startup with the leadership and resources of the world’s largest casino gaming company. Marc also mentioned that DoubleDown is planning to focus on developing for Canvas and WebGL.

 

Europe 2014Video Coverage

David Chang: Real Money in Gaming is Growing | Casual Connect Video

March 5, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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At Casual Connect Europe, David Chang announced the release of the Gamblit platform, saying it is now ready for partner deals.

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David Chang, CMO, Gamblit Gaming

David Chang, CMO of Gamblit Gaming, got his start in the games industry at IGN, where he envisioned new business ideas and partnerships for the company. He describes his position as a dream job with plenty of opportunity to use his creativity in a business context within an industry. For Chang, the most enjoyable part of the industry is the ability to create new entertainment experiences. Since the video games industry is still relatively new compared to other entertainment media, there is still opportunity for pioneering. He feels fortunate to have been able to make a living in this industry, knowing the creativity and the pace suit him well.

The time when Chang felt the proudest in his career came when he founded OnNet Europe GmbH. He considers it a great honor for a Korean based company to have had enough faith in him and his abilities to provide the funding and backing for the company. Making this company successful and profitable was additionally satisfying.

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The Gamblit Team

Following A Feeling

Today at Gamblit Gaming, he is responsible for their market messaging and positioning, partnership discussions, game production and product definition. When a friend introduced him to Gamblit, he liked the company so much that he left his own mobile games company to join them. His job at Gamblit uses much of his education and experience. His legal background is helpful in understanding the many regulations in real money gaming. The experience he gained through founding and running online games and his mobile games company allows him to understand what developers and publishers are looking for to be successful.

Something To Look Forward To

Chang believes that in the near future, real money gambling will become a big trend in this industry as more jurisdictions begin permitting online real money gambling. “I think you are going to see a lot of crossover between companies that were traditionally thought of as gambling companies and those that were traditionally thought of as games companies,” Chang predicted.

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“I think you are going to see a lot of crossover between companies that were traditionally thought of as gambling companies and those that were traditionally thought of as games companies.”

He also believes the industry will discover a new platform within the next few years. He can’t guess whether it will be wearables, Android mini-consoles, Smart TVs or something else, but he definitely expects hardware to define the next big gaming trend.

Keeping It Simple

For his own gaming, Chang plays a lot of Super Smash Bros, and, most recently, Ni No Kuni. Most often, he is playing on his smartphone, his Xbox 360 or Wii.

“I definitely find plain vanilla Android the best experience for me,” Chang said. “None of that manufacturer or carrier software for me, thank you.”

Europe 2014Video Coverage

Jussi Laakkonen: Redefining Applifier Reaps Rewards | Casual Connect Video

March 5, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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At Casual Connect Europe, Jussi Laakkonen announced the opening of Applifier offices in Japan and South Korea. He also released the numbers showing Everyplay’s continuing growth.

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Jussi Laakkonen, Founder and CEO, Applifier

Jussi Laakkonen is Founder and CEO of Applifier, the company that helps players discover games and has pioneered cross-promotion on Facebook. With a background in product, Laakkonen has had an active hand in designing and leading the services Applifier offers. Now that the company has grown to over 40 people, his focus has changed to ensuring that the team is headed in the right direction and accomplishing more in less time.

Epiphanies = Progression

Laakkonen tells us the epiphanies he had while dreaming up new products have helped redefine the company as a whole. The first idea was to leverage a cross-promotion network on Facebook that would support their game by allying with other developers. A little way down Applifier’s road to success, this idea turned the entire company into a cross-promotion network. The second epiphany came in the form of a question, “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could share video replays from your mobile game?” Development proved the tech feasibility and launched Everyplay just seven months after the first concept demo.

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Everyplay has continued to grow

The most exciting time of Laakkonen’s career came with the astonishing growth of their cross-promotion network on Facebook. Only 100 days after launching, Applifier reached 50 million monthly active users across the integrated network of games with the service.

“We built the service to help ourselves as game developers, then allied with other fellow devs, built the rebel alliance to take on the death star of Zynga, and it exploded in popularity,” Laakkonen said. “It was great fighting the good fight for fellow developers.”

The CEO divides his personal game-playing time between the PS4 and his iPad Mini Retina. On his PS4, his current preference is Resogun by Housemarque, which he describes as, “a sublime shooter with over the top visual FX and retro arcade action.” On the iPad, he is playing Colossatron by Halfbrick, which “just keeps bringing me back to wreak more havoc.”

Redefining Gaming

Laakkonen has strong feelings about free-to-play. He supports that this business model kills piracy in 99 percent of cases, enabling true fans of the games to support those games for the other 80 to 90 percent of players who play for free. He objects to people thinking of free-to-play as a genre, insisting, “You don’t design a ‘F2P game’ anymore than you design a boxed product. F2P is a business model, like a boxed product is a business model, and both models can support a wide variety of games.”

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Everyplay allows you to share your game replays

According to Laakkonen, three major trends will impact the games industry in the next few years. First, mobile game revenue will become the biggest segment of the global game business and will eclipse console game revenue. Second, Apple, Google and Amazon will all release a TV-connected device that also plays games. Within three to five years, he expects these devices to consume a large chunk of the console market. And finally, virtual reality, such as Oculus Rift, will become mainstream and redefine the hardcore PC and console gaming experience.

Stay up to date with Jussi on Twitter.

Europe 2014Video Coverage

Alicja Borucinska: New Ideas Meet Solid Business | Casual Connect Video

March 4, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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“Don’t search for ‘The One’, just optimize,” Alicja Borucinska advised her audience at Casual Connect Europe. “There are different strategies – you can start small with a low budget and just search slowly for good sources. On the other hand, you can say, ‘Hey, I have this amount of budget. Let’s start broad,’ and then just optimize the campaign to the best affiliates that you can get from the network you are working on.”

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Alicja Borucinska, Affiliate Superhero, TrafficCaptain

Alicja Borucinska is responsible for the affiliate team at TrafficCaptain, a company focused on the distribution of games-related traffic. TrafficCaptain emphasizes new ideas mixed with a solid business approach. They are always looking for new opportunities. Borucinska manages the traffic campaigns, optimizing each of them to reach the highest possible ROI.

Comfortable in Chaos

For Borucinska, the greatest gratification in her work comes when clients say, “I wish all our partners were like you,” or “No one took care of our campaign as professionally as you did.” She knows that this level of client satisfaction results only from her hard work and customer-oriented approach. Taking the job with TrafficCaptain was a huge professional and personal step for her, necessitating a move from Warsaw, Poland to Hamburg, Germany. She joined the company at a very early seed stage when there were only four people on the team. Fortunately, she already had good business contacts, and this background was considerable help with her new responsibilities. She emphasizes, “I feel comfortable in a chaotic structure where every idea is valuable.”

Borucinska describes herself as a curious person with a broad range of interests. In the winter, she is an avid snow boarder and ice skater. In the summer, she likes to sail and windsurf. At all seasons, she can be found at the gym or jogging through Hamburg’s many beautiful parks. She also enjoys sci-fi literature, exploring flea markets, and trying out new recipes, especially of French cuisine.

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Borucinska on a helicopter trip in Las Vegas.

Games Fill the Gaps

When gaming, she plays only on mobile devices. She appreciates the flexibility of the Android operating system, but feels iOS games are usually just more fun. Although she has little time to dedicate solely to gaming, she plays in every otherwise empty moment, such as while waiting for public transport or for an appointment. When playing free-to-play, she is quite conservative, never “crossing the boundary of common sense.” Her maximum purchase is 10 €.

She does not play on the newest consoles, probably because she does not have a TV. She explains, “After work, I prefer to spend quality time with my friends and family. Getting rid of the TV at home helps us to build stronger relations.”

Preparing for the Flood

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The TrafficCaptain Team

Within the next two to three years, she sees changes coming to the platforms on which games are published. She insists, “We have to better understand the promotion and monetization of mobile games. An additional challenge will be using different marketing channels for cross-platform games.” At TrafficCaptain, they will respond to these conditions with constant testing, focusing always on optimization of traffic sources to improve the quality of acquired users. Borucinska expects the greatest impact on the games industry to come from the flood of mobile casual gamers. Many people who have never played will start because they have found interesting games in the app store. She believes their spending for in-game purchases will exceed that of mid- and hard-core gamers. As well, many people in developing parts of the world will have better access to the internet through using mobile devices. They will begin turning to games as well.

Europe 2014Video Coverage

Oliver Kern: Good and Effective Marketing | Casual Connect Video

March 3, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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Oliver Kern offered a bit of advice to those listening at Casual Connect Europe: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first launch of your product, you have launched too late.”

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Oliver Kern (courtesy of Casual Connect)
Oliver Kern, Founder, Target Gamers

Oliver Kern, Founder of Target Gamers, reports that it is business as usual for his company in 2014, which means exciting challenges and new companies to help kick start their marketing. Kern has his own project, a platform called Tinyloot, that he is working on with a few game industry veterans and techies. With Tinyloot, they are attempting to solve one of the key challenges facing mobile developers who self-publish as they move to advertise their games; they take all the risk and are easy prey for hundreds of networks that do not care about the game and add nothing of value to the campaigns. Kern expects that in 2014, he will have more information about Tinyloot’s solution.

At Target Gamers, Kern works with a number of promising mobile game startup companies in Europe to help them kick-start their marketing activities. His goal is to make them successful and Target Gamers wants to as fast as possible. To do this, he carefully picks what companies he will work with, then puts together a good strategy and builds a lean, efficient marketing team. He does not believe in the publisher-developer model or in outsourcing marketing. He insists, “The proven model is to have marketing, product management, and development close together. That is even more important when your game is a service where both parties need to work hard to improve flow, engagement, virality, retention, and monetization.

Data Helping Marketing

Currently, Kern is staying abreast of the emerging information on how behavioral data can help with user targeting. He is now working with partners who are experimenting with tracking behavior and enriching user profiles with third party data. However, he emphasizes, “Much as I like useful data, like in-game behavior, there is much more to good marketing than uncreative user acquisition with spreadsheets and tables.”

The proudest moment of Kern’s career came when he was Head of Marketing at Jagex and they had just published their first third party game, War of Legends. Before launch, there were serious doubts about his business plan and its projected revenues and ROI. Those doubts quickly changed to “How can we grow faster?” and Kern says, “Yeah, that felt good!”

Ruzzle is one of the games Oliver has worked with
Ruzzle is one of the games Oliver has worked with

Mobile and Big Screen Gaming

Away from work, Kern spends as much time as possible with his wife and five-year-old son. He also loves reading and playing games. Currently, he is playing Samurai Siege on his iPhone; in spite of having just been raided two million Essence, he still loves the game. He enjoys trying out new things in Space Ape’s game, such as new tournament modes.

As Kern considers the game industry as a whole for the next few years, he believes that accessible big screen gaming will still have a large impact, even though Ouya and Gamestick failed to break through. He maintains, “Once the novelty of the current console generation wears off, it leaves room for innovation and disruption. Then, I expect a second wave. But it will need a large company like Apple, Samsung, or Amazon for this to really become main stream.”

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