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BusinessContributionsIndustryOnline

Fiksu’s Glenn Kiladis on How to Grow a Loyal User Base

August 29, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

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Glenn Kiladis, the vice president of new market and media solutions and the mobile games evangelist for Fiksu, spoke about strategies to build a loyal following, challenges in the mobile marketing ecosystem, and the solutions Fiksu offers in the mobile space with Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice.com (they provide coverage content on employee and worker training strategies, customer loyalty engagement implementations, business intelligence trends and much more).
Listen to the full interview here:


Building to Two Million Monthly Active Users

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Along with his roles at Fiksu, Kiladis also helped build Fiksu subsidiary FreeMyApps, a rewards-based network that now has the capability to generate 100,000 new games or app installations within 72 hours.

Fiksu, a sponsor at the Casual Connect USA 2014 conference, is a mobile app user acquisition platform that delivers loyal users through utilizing different traffic sources, tracking ad performance, optimizing real-time ad buying, and generating cost-effective and organic leads. Along with his roles at Fiksu, Glenn Kiladis also helped build Fiksu subsidiary FreeMyApps, a rewards-based network that now has the capability to generate 100,000 new games or app installations within 72 hours. Users earn rewards for downloading and engaging with specific apps that advertisers on FreeMyApps want to promote. With a very active and global user base, FreeMyApps now has about two million monthly active users. In a relatively short period, FreeMyApps built a loyal following around a strong community, with over 948,000 Facebook fans, over 496,000 Twitter followers, and over 38,000 YouTube subscribers.

To build such a strong community base, FreeMyApps used the following strategies:

– Contests: When marketing an app or game, they’ll tweet the contest to their community and post about it on Facebook. Sometimes they’ll run contests around a specific game or app just in Facebook.
Responsive mobile app: They made sure that FreeMyApps was a responsive mobile web app on iOS and chose the native route for Android.
Destination Service: On iOS, they made sure to make it a destination service and own that specific traffic.
– Social Sharing Referrals: They’re not a network of mobile app and game offers walled into other people’s apps, so they don’t rely on other organizations or developers to build their audience. Instead, they built their audience directly through allowing and rewarding end users who socially share the app via SMS, email, Facebook, or Twitter. Today, 40 percent of all new FreeMyApps’ users come through social sharing referrals.

What Was Learned

In seeing such strong audience growth, FreeMyApps saw the importance for a community to be built around the business. Subsequently, they hired a community manager to run their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels, built a strong community on each platform, and worked to make the app as interactive as possible, even if an end user isn’t downloading games or apps.

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The mobile marketing landscape

Through this experience, Kiladis identified some challenges that companies need to be aware of in the mobile marketing ecosystem:

The need for a user acquisition team: UA is constantly evolving challenge. New technologies and new players are continually popping up, and staying on top of the game requires dedicated staff – even if you use a UA partner like Fiksu.
The need to know what tools, tech, or traffic sources, out of the thousands now available, are the best fit for your company: Every app has a personality – so there’s no one answer to “Which tracking software should we use?” or “Which traffic sources are the best?” Getting these answers requires research and testing for your specific app. In addition, they always find that a mix of traffic sources – 5 to 10 in active use, in most cases – yields the best overall user acquisition results, especially when you can continually optimize your bids and budgets across them as you monitor performance data. But choosing which 5 or 10 out of the hundreds of viable ad networks and other traffic sources is no easy task.
The need for a solid attribution and analytics partner: Companies need to look for partners that utilize big data analysis, or at least have access to first- or third-party data, to help them acquire well-targeted users.
The need to understand the value of incentivized vs. non-incentivized marketing: Incentivized marketing can potentially deliver less high-quality users.
The need to keep up with a fast-moving industry: Game companies ought to have mobile acquisition teams, or seek partnerships with companies that can help them acquire and maintain users in the mobile gaming space.

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Companies need to look for partners that utilize big data analysis, or at least have access to first- or third-party data, to help them acquire well-targeted users.

Meanwhile, for companies that try to do it themselves, they need to:

Choose the right attribution and analytics partner: Attribution allows a company or developer to tie media spending back to factual results so that they can know where users come from and through which channels they arrived. This helps to optimize future media spending so that a targeted audience yields high quality leads and customers.
Assess whether they’re buying pure or arbitrage traffic: This is a big issue because a lot of companies represent ad inventory as their own, but their ad inventory has actually been bought from two or three other sources, and can consequently be two or three times removed from the source.
Understand mobile ad technology that addresses media buying, attribution, optimization, etc.

To combat these issues, Fiksu created solutions such as multiple-source media buying, an auction-based approach, and an optimized platform. For more information on Fiksu’s solutions, products, platform, and resources, visit www.fiksu.com.

 

BusinessExclusive InterviewsIndustryOnline

DeltaDNA CEO Mark Robinson on Current F2P Challenges

August 27, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

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DeltaDNA was an early adopter, so to speak, of the Casual Connect conference, knowing that it would become a great environment to build relationships, grow their network, and both give and receive value from the innumerable conversations that occur before, during, and after the conference. In 2014, they were a proud Gold Sponsor of Casual Connect USA 2014. While there, DeltaDNA CEO Mark Robinson spoke about the concept of Player Relationship Management, how the industry has evolved in the free-to-play (F2P) space, and techniques DeltaDNA uses to increase engagement and create better gaming experiences with Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice.com (they provide coverage content on enterprise employee engagement, customer loyalty and rewards, and gamification trends and much more).


Responsive Games in the Free-to-Play Market

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Developers can interact with players within the game, collect rich data based on player experience, and use that data to craft a version of the game that’s more responsive to the player.

Launched in 2010, DeltaDNA uses a Player Relationship Management platform to maximize player engagement in free-to-play games. Using this platform, developers can interact with players within the game, collect rich data based on player experience, and use that data to craft a version of the game that’s more responsive to the player.

Through his work, Robinson identified three areas in which the F2P gaming industry has trouble:

A lack of rich data on player behavior: By balancing game dynamics to satisfy average players, developers end up satisfying no one.
A lack of retention: Less than 40 percent of F2P gamers typically come back to a game after an initial session.
– A lack of great, creative ideas: Game developers and publishers are always on the lookout for well-executed games.

So how does DeltaDNA address these challenges in the F2P space? First, they work to understand player behavior. Developers can interact with a specific player in their game so they are able to customize game mechanics according to a player’s style or competence, using a platform such as DeltaDNA‘s. Then, they make games more responsive. Better gaming experiences stem from responsive, user-driven, tailor-made game situations. And lastly, they use analytics in an effective manner. When designers or publishers work closely with an analytics team, they’re able to obtain rich data, such as direct feedback on retention rates or why some players leave a game sooner than others. They can then devise solutions to increase retention levels as well as to create player segments for better engagement and possible monetization strategies.

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When designers or publishers work closely with an analytics team, they’re able to obtain rich data, such as direct feedback on retention rates or why some players leave a game sooner than others.

By leveraging real-time data and understanding player behaviors, DeltaDNA can design and create games that are more customized and responsive, thereby establishing long-term value, increased engagement, and a better end-user experience. Robinson added that they work to ensure that players have a great experience regardless of their competency or playing style. They don’t want the free-to-play model to be seen as an inferior gaming experience simply because it’s free.

Robinson also noted the necessity for a messaging strategy. Developers and publishers need to be consistent and intelligent in terms of their messaging without inundating users with too many messages. This can be done by fully understanding the different player characteristics in one’s game, as well as by considering how to manage player experiences in a way that their players will want to respond to messaging.

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Developers and publishers need to be consistent and intelligent in terms of their messaging without inundating users with too many messages.

The Future of the Casual Gaming Industry

According to Robinson, the most exciting and successful companies in the gaming industry are starting to adopt new skill sets in order to get closer to their respective playing communities. Developers and publishers now have multi-scaled teams with new skills and a reliance on analytics. Additionally, marketing is now a more important part of the process alongside development, design, and creative.

For Robinson and DeltaDNA, the next step in the industry is realizing that a game developer/customer relationship won’t be limited to a one-game environment. Rather, they see multi-game relationships forming between publishers and gamers, thus creating more engagement for a publisher and more value for consumers.

For more information on DeltaDNA’s features, solutions, and resources, visit www.deltadna.com. To listen to the full interview, click the play button below:

USA 2014Video Coverage

Jamison Selby Is Keeping His Secrets | Casual Connect Video

August 27, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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Jamison Selby shared his knowledge and views on real-money gaming during his session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “By 2018, less than .01 percent of commercial mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers,” he said.

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Jamison Selby, VP Games, b Spot

The best thing about being a part of the games industry, according to Jamison Selby, is, quite simply, that he gets to make games. He says, “I spend days creating new recipes for fun and testing them out.” He heads the Games team at b Spot, but refuses to divulge the secrets of how he joined up and exactly what he does there. State secrets, he claims. Or could they be industry secrets? But he admits that for years he walked the line between the video games space and the real money gambling world, an experience which he has found the perfect ground for his current endeavors.

He also reveals that he has had some great moments along the way in this industry, but he hopes the best moments are yet to come. He says, “Someday, I’ll get to show my kids what I’ve done. Ask me then.”

This busy father clearly makes his family a priority. With two young children, he spends his time chasing, splashing, running, dodging, reading aloud, and cleaning. And occasionally sleeping.

But he does find time for some game play. However, these days GTA5 on the Xbox often gives way to Wonder Pets and Octonauts. Currently, he is playing Wasteland 2 Beta and Broken Age. And his preferred platform is whatever happens to be available.

There seem to be quite a lot of choices available, since he says he has all the usual consoles, including his Nintendo DS which “shall never sunset.” For mobile gaming, he uses both Android and iOS depending on which game he is playing and claims the most interesting place he has played mobile games was in the crew bar of a cruise ship late at night in the middle of the Baltic.

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Selby is a busy father, but he does find time for some game play.

It Started With The TV

Selby became involved in the games industry while working on TV game shows. The trivia content was the jumping off point for him to dive into the games industry. He became the head writer for ODVD games, working on a series of trivia titles published by Hasbro. He states, “It was a big creative challenge and offered a very different path from the feast or famine world of TV production.” He believes if he had not joined the industry, he would be producing questionable reality TV shows or possibly teaching drama at a small Northwestern college. Or even serving drinks at a bar on an island without a zip code.

Here Come The Wearables

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“Every new innovation opens up creative possibilities, and we’re constantly dreaming up new ways to play.”

The next big trend Selby sees affecting the games industry is the explosion of wearables and VR technology. He believes this will bring huge opportunities for new content creation in the years ahead. He insists, “Every new innovation opens up creative possibilities, and we’re constantly dreaming up new ways to play.”

Selby has years of experience leading cross-disciplinary design and production teams to create multiplayer social games and interactive entertainment. He founded and leads the International Game Developer Association’s Real Money Gaming SIG. Previously, he launched the Monkey King Games consultancy and was the senior producer at TimePlay Entertainment, creating a new generation of multiplayer gaming in casinos, cinemas, cruise ships, bars, clubs and stadiums.

 

USA 2014Video Coverage

Mark Gazecki Keeps Having Start-up Ideas | Casual Connect Video

August 26, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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“Over the past few years, a bunch of things have changed,” Mark Gazecki said during his session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “For one, the classic TV demographic has become gamers. This wasn’t the case five or ten years ago. The other thing is that there’s mass market reach, true mass market reach, just like prime time television. Social games have started to be just like that, with the same kind of reach.”

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Mark Gazecki, Co-Founder & Executive Producer, MegaZebra

Mark Gazecki has always loved video games, right from the first Atari and Commodore 64 games, and he has never lost that love. Years later, while working in venture capital, he looked at many online games companies. With the growth of browser games, he decided to leave venture capital and founded Game Genetics, a game distribution business for online and mobile games. Then he started MegaZebra, a developer for cross-platform games, and HoneyTracks, which he describes as a company that does interesting things with data for games companies. Gazecki has an MBA from Harvard Business School and feels it was truly amazing to be able to spend two years in an incredible environment with extraordinarily talented people.

Filling Some Friends’ Needs

It just happened that he ended up in the games industry, and Game Genetics was his start. Then he kept on having startup ideas. MegaZebra started after Game Genetics was out of the gate when a few friends, who were running social networks at the time, asked if his company could provide them with social games which leverage social graph functions. Since Game Genetics was a distribution business without any such games, he asked them to wait a couple of months. He then looked for co-founders, and soon after, MegaZebra had developed their first social games and was putting them up on Facebook and other social networks.

It is the creative process that keeps Gazecki intrigued with games. He finds the work intellectually stimulating because these are complex entertainment products which bring together many disciplines. And he finds the people in the games industry passionate, driven, and humble.

Gazecki believes the next important trend in the games industry will be games that incorporate TV type experiences. MegaZebra is already trying this with their new game, Suburbia.

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Gazecki believes the next important trend in the games industry will be games that incorporate TV type experiences, like what is done in their new game, Suburbia.

Loving The Cross Platform Experience

These days, Gazecki is playing a lot of Suburbia. As well, he tests many games on Facebook, iPad, and iPhone. Some of these are Farmville 2, Hay Day, Disney City Girl, and Surviving High School. He especially likes gaming on his iOS devices because he enjoys both their interface and Airplay connectivity, which allows him to connect music, video, and games with speakers and large screens. He says, “I feel that the cross-platform experience is starting to be awesome!”

He also still enjoys using his PS3, mainly for sports games, but also the occasional game of Assassin’s Creed or Red Dead Redemption. He insists that consoles deliver the best big screen experience, and he enjoys sports games most on a console. And he says, “Just like in the old days, recently we got a group together again to hook our controllers up to one Playstation and get the game on.”

When he is not involved with work, he likes DJing and producing music, mainly hip-hop and funk. These are also the music genres he listens to, as well as Kraftwerk, the German electro pioneers. He would love to have a startup idea in the music sector, but that hasn’t happened yet. If that doesn’t happen and if it wasn’t for more work in the games industry, he claims he would produce hip-hop music and drive cabs to actually be able to earn a living.

 

USA 2014Video Coverage

Nick Fortugno Is As Good As It Gets | Casual Connect Video

August 26, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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“I think the brand experiences that work best with games are where the mechanics of the game speak to the brand in some meaningful way, ” Nick Fortugno said during his session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “Because then playing the game makes sense in the narrative of the brand.”

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Nick Fortugno, Chief Creative Officer, Playmatics

Nick Fortugno, chief creative officer at Playmatics, is dedicated to gaming as an expressive art form, so in his free time, he does a lot of interactive art work. He is co-founder of the Come Out and Play Festival, which has its tenth anniversary next year. He also spends time reading novels, swing dancing, playing the guitar, and he started skateboarding last fall.

For The Fun Of Gaming

He is clearly dedicated to gaming for the fun of gaming. He says, “I play pretty much on everything. I’m finishing The Last of Us on my Xbox before going over to Titanfall, I’m playing Kentucky Route Zero on my PC, I’ve got Plants Vs Zombies as my go-to on my phone and I use my DS for Fire Emblem and Icarus when pressed.” And he admits to owning all the last round of consoles, going back to Dreamcast and is about to purchase an Xbox One and a PS4.

Bridging Entertainment

In 2009, Fortugno co-founded Playmatics with Margaret Wallace because they saw a need for games that were not just clones or rip-offs of popular games. They also provide a bridge into the world of film, television, and digital media in general through the work he does with Sundance and Tribeca. On a day-to-day basis, his work includes doing the lead design work and managing the teams making the games.

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Playmatics was found because they saw a need for games that were not just clones or rip-offs of popular games. The Walking Dead: Dead Reckoning is just one of their games.

Playmatics has had some great moments and won a number of awards since it was founded. Two of these are the M– USE award they won for game design on the project Body/Mind/Change and the CableFAX award for Breaking Bad: The Interrogation. Fortugno is also very proud that the White House gaming groups cite Ayiti as a seminal work, and he says, “Diner Dash is something I am always humbled by.”

For Fortugno, the most enjoyment working in the games industry comes from reaching millions of players with new kinds of interactive content. “Watching players explore the systems you’ve designed is just magic,” he asserts.

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Playmatics’ project Body/Mind/Change won the M– USE award for game design.

Watered Down Contact

However, he believes that currently there is too much emphasis on short term gains in the games industry, resulting in alienated audiences and watered down value of brands. He also considers discovery to be a large barrier for all game developers, but especially for mobile games. He insists, “We desperately need better channels to consumers on our platforms.”

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At Playmatics, they respond to the challenge of discovery by focusing on diversifying what they create so they can compete in multiple markets.

At Playmatics, they respond to the challenge of discovery by focusing on diversifying what they create so they can compete in multiple markets. They continue to push the boundaries in games, believing unexplored territory is where you find the most exciting new ideas and the most potential value.

Fortugno considers that in the next few years, games will become a part of more goods and services, as well as “real world” experiences. Games will take on a more critical role as part of brand strategy, and narrative properties will see games as a deeper part of their ecosystem. He is also very excited about wearables and how they will enable new kinds of augmented play.

At Casual Connect USA, Fortugno announced that Playmatics is continuing to create branded and original IP using its proprietary PlayComix platform.

 

USA 2014Video Coverage

Henning Kosmack Finds The Fun In The Media Battle | Casual Connect Video

August 26, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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Henning Kosmack discussed how they manage storylines in their game Suburbia during Casual Connect USA 2014. “We are very analytical, and we really track a lot of the stuff that’s happening in the game,” he said. “We try to tweak it back and forth to make sure that it is really fitting the biggest amount of audience we can get for that plot line.”

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Henning Kosmack, Co-founder and CEO, MegaZebra

“The games are everywhere, so let the fun begin!” exclaims Henning Kosmack, the co-founder and CEO of MegaZebra. The biggest impact he sees coming to the games industry is cross-platform play. Computers, mobile devices, and television are all coming together as channels for game play. No matter what media outlet people prefer at a particular moment, the games will be there for them. And Kosmack believes this is great news for everyone in the games industry, especially for the players.

Assembling The Team

At MegaZebra, Kosmack fills many roles. As CEO, his foremost responsibility is to assemble an outstanding team of highly talented individuals. Kosmack also spends considerable time interacting with game producers. Since he loves numbers, he brings that into the creative processes in the company. And he is very involved with marketing and community work, where he has learned a great deal about user acquisition and the full life-cycle user experience.

Prior to founding MegaZebra, his career included everything from entrepreneur to VC. All along he has been detecting trends and finding the right team to execute new ideas, skills he continues to use in his latest company.

“Quality Over Quantity”

Kosmack stresses the pride he feels in his team. The MegaZebra philosophy is to emphasize quality over quantity, so the team still numbers less than fifty. Although they are small in numbers, they have crafted some of the biggest games in all the genres they have actively pursued, successfully competing with much larger companies. He says, “It feels like being the underdog playing soccer against the FC Bayern Munich, our hometown club and one of the best teams in the world, and beating them!”

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Although they are small in numbers, MegaZebra have crafted some of the biggest games in all the genres they have actively pursued, successfully competing with much larger companies.

One of the most significant trends Kosmack sees affecting the games industry currently is what he calls the “mass-marketization” of games. As social games emerged, they became accessible to an entirely new audience. Mobile devices further broadened this market. He believed, when founding MegaZebra in 2008, that all gaming audiences would follow this trend from narrow to broad. Although there are some genres, such as console-like gaming, which have not yet followed the trend, he expects them to be next.

The Media Battle

He claims this phenomenon produces another trend, which he calls “the battle of the media”. As games target the mass-market audience, they clash head-on with other media, particularly television. They are consumed at the same hours of the day, for similar session times, and by the same people. But TV is now losing reach and games are soaring. He says, “I think this makes sense. While TV is one-way, games are interactive, which is simply more fun.”

“I think this makes sense. While TV is one-way, games are interactive, which is simply more fun.”

Although there are other trends occurring, at MegaZebra, they believe these are the most important and are fully committed to focusing on them. They are now bringing their category-leading social games cross-platform. Because they have worked with Facebook for some years, they see the value of having mobile games synched to online, socially-connected versions, believing it offers a broader reach and significantly enhances the user experience.

Meeting The Challenge

To meet the challenge of competing with TV, they are currently working on a title that combines TV episodic-style storytelling with a simulation game. Kosmack asserts, “It will combine the narrative, excitement and drama that a television script delivers, with the interactive and social experience of a game.”

In his own gameplay, he is in the middle of migrating from Mac to iPad. He tests many games that come out on different platforms, but now his playing time is going to the new releases they have coming, Suburbia and Solitaire Chronicles. He says, “As we continue to tweak the games, I play, delete my scores, and play again, until it feels awesome.”

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At Casual Connect USA, he announced the official launch of Suburbia, MegaZebra’s take on the convergence of TV and gaming.

When not at work, Kosmack enjoys the original beer gardens in the beautiful city of Munich where he lives. He also visits the nearby lakes and the Alps, and participates in several sports, including beach volleyball, basketball and old-school squash.

At Casual Connect USA, he announced the official launch of Suburbia, MegaZebra’s take on the convergence of TV and gaming. It has already been playable in open beta, but because it is a rather unusual concept, fine-tuning it has taken some time.

 

USA 2014Video Coverage

Jaremy Rich: Transforming Great Games Into Successful Products | Casual Connect Video

August 26, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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Jaremy Rich shared insight on bringing a PC game to mobile during Casual Connect USA 2014. One of the features he warned about was push notifications. “Try and bring that in a little bit later,” he suggested. “Try and bring that in at the point when the player is already invested and says ‘Hey, I like this game, I want to know more’.”

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Jaremy Rich is director of product management at DropForge Games. His background in data analytics and optimization gave him his start in the games industry, and his favorite part of the industry is the people in it. It is one of the few industries in which the people are truly passionate day in and day out, spending both their work time and their free time focused on video games. He says, “This is a big part of the reason I got into the games industry in the first place.”

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Jaremy Rich, Director of Product Management, DropForge Games

Every day, Rich is excited by the ability to marry game design with testing and analytics. It is now possible to understand player behavior with methods that didn’t exist five or ten years ago.

He loves video games and building products that people enjoy interacting with, and he continues in the industry because he believes nothing is more rewarding than working on something you are deeply passionate about.

Transforming Great Games

Rich describes his work at DropForge Games this way: “I work to transform great games into successful products by focusing on understanding player analytics and behavior and driving product decisions. My job often ends up being equal parts analytics, game design, and user experience design.” He credits his background in web optimization with giving him a crash course in customer analytics and UI/UX.

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“I work to transform great games into successful products by focusing on understanding player analytics and behavior and driving product decisions.”

One of the most satisfying times in Rich’s career came with shipping a huge update and relaunch to the game Zuma Blitz. He describes the experience as a ton of work with a really fantastic team, and claims, “Hitting the finish line was really rewarding. It was also the first big game launch I’d worked on from end to end, so there was something special about it for me.”

A Maturing Industry

Rich emphasizes that the games industry is maturing, with players now looking for a truly mobile experience, not just a soft joystick port or a clone of an existing property. In recent years, he has seen a number of clones ship and flop, something that indicates players are looking for a more immersive game experience. He notes, “Deeper, more strategic games are beginning to succeed and take root on mobile, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Mobile players are looking for smarter games that allow them to think strategy even when they aren’t in the game. They want games with a thriving community and social aspects that aren’t intrusive or forced.” So, at DropForge Games, they are building their studio around these assumptions about the mature mobile user.

The DropForge Games Team
The DropForge Games Team

In Rich’s free time, he can often be found playing Hearthstone, Dota 2, or a handful of other mobile games, or just enjoying the sunshine with his wife and dog. He also likes a good game of softball or racquetball with friends.

The game he is currently enjoying the most is Hearthstone; he believes Blizzard did a fantastic job of simplifying a collectible card game, and have done an outstanding job with it on mobile. His play these days is split between PC and mobile, depending on how much time he has available to play a certain game.

He has found that iOS is still where many of the best games are shipped first. And they are showing higher LTVs and fewer QA issues when compared to Android, so they have greater ROI for developers. However, most of the games he plays are cross-platform at this point.

Console gaming has clearly been an important part of his life. He presently owns Xbox One, Xbox 360, and many older consoles. In fact, he is still playing Golden Eye and MarioKart 64. Although his opinion may be biased because in the past he worked for Xbox, he insists, “Microsoft has the ability to nail the end-to-end living room experience, which is a big reason why I chose Xbox One over PS4.

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DropForge’s next game, Loot & Legends, based off Card Hunter

At Casual Connect USA 2014, Rich announced that DropForge Games is working hard to release Loot & Legends in the coming months. It is based on Card Hunter, PC Gamer’s Most Original Game of 2013, and considered one of the most unusual and innovative games. DropForge Games is excited to bring it to mobile audiences everywhere.

 

BusinessContributionsExclusive InterviewsIndustryOnlinePR & Marketing

Millennial Media’s Lewis Rothkopf on Better Games through Big Data

August 26, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

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Lewis Rothkopf, the senior vice president of global monetization solutions at Millennial Media, moderated a panel discussion on Leveraging Data to Build Better Games and Enhance Monetization at Casual Connect USA 2014. While there, he spoke about that panel, Millennial’s ongoing projects, and the current and possible future trends at the intersection of big data and gaming with Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice.com (they provide coverage content on enterprise employee engagement, customer loyalty and rewards, and gamification trends and much more).


Millennial Media is an independent audience platform in the digital advertising space that connects brands and consumers by leveraging data through a mobile-first approach and cross-screen targeting solutions. Rothkopf oversees the company’s publisher and developer relationships. Consequently, he has a unique understanding of the opportunities and difficulties facing today’s gaming industry.

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Rothkopf moderating the panel on leveraging data at Casual Connect USA 2014.

Better Games through Data-driven Decisions

Part of his panel discussion at Casual Connect concerned itself with one of the gaming industry’s major challenges: developers and marketers need to tap into ways of leveraging data so they can make smarter, more efficient, data-driven decisions in order to reach the right consumers in the right place at the right time on the right device with the right mindset and within the right context.

Additionally, Rothkopf pointed out three other critical areas that need to be addressed:

Actionable Intelligence: Developers need to gather deeper and less obvious insights based upon in-app behaviors. Such insights are observed alongside third-party data based on offline behaviors so that developers can make faster, smarter decisions in regards to monetization and user acquisition.
– Hyperlocal Targeting: Developers are tying everything back to local, both to monetize and acquire users. Such hyperlocal targeting that reaches consumers in the right place, mindset, and time can be a challenge.
– Individual SKU-ing: Developers are realizing that creating hits is very much a numbers game. Consequently, they’re releasing a much greater volume of individual SKUs and iterating on them once they’ve taken a foothold instead of hoping to release one monolithic, tent-pole title. Many casual titles are also being released in the hopes that one or more of them will hit it big (see Flappy Bird).

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The Millennial Media booth at Casual Connect USA 2014

Acquiring Users and Monetizing

Rothkopf found that the Casual Connect audience wanted to know more about data conversion in terms of giving developers an edge in user acquisition and monetization—two areas that Rothkopf and his team at Millennial Media understand. He cited two specific areas that Millennial Media currently focuses on in order to help devs acquire users and work toward monetization: location and cross-device and cross-screen.

When focusing on location, Millennial Media marries location and context. In partnership with Esri, they’re re-launching Point: Audience Location Advertising, where their clients can target traditional location dimensions (country, date, etc.), time dimensions, and hyperlocal dimensions like household income, environment, propensity for shopping, etc. To deal with cross-device and cross-screen, Millennial Media also offers PATH, a mobile-first, cross-screen advertising suite that helps advertisers reach consumers anonymously. PATH provides access to tens of millions of cross-screen profiles in a seamless manner.

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During the panel at Casual Connect USA 2014, they discussed using big data to build better, smarter and more monetizable products.

Successful Gaming Marketing

Finally, Rothkopf stressed that success comes from having a fair exchange of value, achieving relevant advertising, seeking the right targeting, and leveraging both first- and third-party data to make smarter decisions to drive monetization and deliver a better gaming experience.

To hear more from Lewis Rothkopf on big data, gaming, and his insights from Casual Connect USA 2014, listen to the podcast interview below. For more information on Millennial Media, visit www.millenialmedia.com, or if you’re a developer seeking to acquire users or working toward monetization, visit www.mmedia.com.

USA 2014Video Coverage

Cristiano Ferriera: Optimizing For Mobile | Casual Connect Video

August 26, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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“Mobile graphics and APIs have come a very long way and they will continue to quickly improve,” Cristiano Ferriera mentioned at Casual Connect USA 2014. “The companies that jump on this, really push it to the limits and differentiate their titles are the ones that are going to benefit most from this.”

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“Games represent a huge part of who I am,” Cristiano Ferreira shares proudly. Ferreira became attracted to the games industry while creating side projects at college, eventually deciding to make games his primary focus. In his final year of college, he accepted a nine-month internship at Intel, moving to Arizona to immerse himself in the experience. Immediately after graduation, he began work as an application engineer with Intel.

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Immediately after graduation, he began work as Application Engineer with Intel.

The Next Big Thing for Mobile

Ferreira believes the recent release of OpenGLES 3.1 and latest supporting hardware will be followed by a flood of high quality, graphically intensive games on mobile with, “We believe there is huge potential for optimization strategies among mobile devices.”

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Cristiano Ferreira, Application Engineer, Intel

It’s All About the Games

Currently, the game Ferreira plays is Alan Wake, which he acquired through the Steam summer sale. He prefers playing on PC because it has the capacity for high end graphics and allows the player to easily use and create game mods. For his mobile devices, he sees advantages to both Android and iOS. He prefers the customizability Android offers, but appreciates the stability and quality application ecosystem of iOS.

Day to Day

Ferreira enables developers in the areas of games and graphics through keeping up-to-date with the latest graphics trends and techniques, publishing samples, doing performance analysis on mobile titles, and assisting game developers in supporting Intel hardware. His previous experience in tech support and customer service projects developed expertise in customer facing skills, something that has been invaluable for his current career path.

Although he has only been in his field for a short time, he is very proud to have shipped three samples this year showcasing new OpenGLES features and to have enabled some developers to take advantage of these features in their games. He derives the greatest satisfaction in the games industry is through seeing the exponential growth of the industry as a whole and experiencing the tremendous variety of different games.

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Intel has been working with EA to bring desktop quality graphics to mobile.

In his free time, he experiments with electronic music production, playing at shows and festivals, and also enjoys drawing and painting. He states, “I am working on honing my skills in all the individual components of video game production so that eventually I can release something that is a direct result of who I am.”

 

USA 2014Video Coverage

David Kim: Looking at Opportunities to Come | Casual Connect Video

August 26, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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David Kim provided interesting insight into the Southeast Asia game market in his session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “The biggest differentiating factor here is that over half [of gamers] is under 25, so these are all the future earners that are coming into the pipeline that we can market to,” he stated. “On a per person basis, it’s still much cheaper to market in any of these Southeast Asian countries, with the exception of maybe Singapore, but Singapore, again, is very, very small, but generally, you’ll get a lot more bang for buck for any of these markets.”

David Kim, CEO of Animoca, is continually impressed with the strong culture in the games industry, “I’ve always felt the games industry is a collaborative industry where people are willing to share ideas and best practices that work well, and not only discuss trends, but be an active participant in the trend itself. Everyone buys into the theory that a rising tide floats all boats, so they are willing to open up and be very transparent with what they have tried that has worked and what hasn’t worked so well.”

What is a Developer to do in a Hit-Driven Market?

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David Kim, CEO, Animoca

Kim relates that Animoca was built around a hit-proof model; they operate a broad portfolio of diversified games so they do not have to rely on building that one big hit to sustain their businesses. He takes great satisfaction in the fact that the business has sustained steady growth over the long term, saying, “I’ve likened it to the whole ‘Moneyball’ theory. We have been focusing on hitting singles and doubles and getting on base. We continue to have hits that allow for a steady stream of runs. We’re not opposed to home runs, but that is not what we have been swinging for at every turn at bat.” This is what they set out to do, and their success is a major testament to that approach.

Kim also takes pride in the continued success of the whole Pretty Pet Salon series, which has become the standard for the ‘cute and cuddly’ game genre.

The business partners are now focusing on building up the company’s new Animoca Brands spin-off and using it as a vehicle to launch some of the best IP in the world. There are a many great brands that would make for wonderful games, and the company is invested in making it happen.

Within the next couple of years, Kim expects to see higher quality game products emerging, with hardcore games becoming more dominant as the depth of experience in mobile games reaches that of the hardcore experience. He also expects to see more emphasis on gaming for younger children as more children are given their own mobile devices. But the usual freemium model will not work for this audience, so, he asks, “How will these games be monetized?” Although there is no answer to this question yet, there is still great interest in games for children and in educational games.

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The Pretty Pet Salon series, which has become the standard for the ‘cute and cuddly’ game genre.

Riding the Technology Curve

Among the valuable new technologies that have not received the notice they deserve, Kim includes the broad range of game controllers, from devices that attach to your tablet to sophisticated control systems like Kinect, TV enabled mobile devices, 3D/VR devices and displays, such as Oculus Rift, and interoperability of mobile game devices, computers, and consoles. He feels that as more and more products and ideas are developed, new markets will open up for them.

He believes the next wave in the field of gaming might involve gaming hardware and software attached to a smartphone, incorporating the smartphone into hardcore gaming, not as an auxiliary controller, but as an integral part of the experience.

“This advance in processing power will lead to greater versatility in our devices so that eventually we may stop thinking in terms of dedicated disparate machines like a smartphone, a personal computer, or a gaming console.”

As the power of CPUs and GPUs continues to increase, both as standalone and integrated components, even more powerful and efficient hardware and applications will become possible. Kim claims, “This advance in processing power will lead to greater versatility in our devices so that eventually we may stop thinking in terms of dedicated disparate machines like a smartphone, a personal computer, or a gaming console.”

According to Kim, The Internet of Things offers fascinating opportunities. Gaming may well end up setting the stage for the large-scale commercial application of the Internet of Things. Other exciting technologies include new game accessories that will allow the development of novel and better game experiences. He believes that soon enough games will support Android Gear and we may see virtual reality go main stream.

He has heard people talking about convergence for decades, and it has meant different things to different people and generations. In its latest iteration, convergence will likely encompass many physical technologies as well as many different types of gameplays, and it will all be connected. He insists, “It won’t be here this year or next year, but it is coming, and it will be very, very cool!”

Lofty Goals for Animoca

As CEO of Animoca, Kim is responsible for setting the overall direction of the company and managing its growth, so he is involved in many facets of the business. His work varies from day to day; on any given day he may be meeting or talking with potential distribution or monetization partners, evaluating a game to consider publishing it, or working with the design team to optimize the user experience. The company is currently discussing many strategic initiatives, including the recent spin-off of Animoca Brands, soon to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

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Star Girl, another of Animoca’s popular games

Animoca Brands develops and publishes branded games, as well as games developed by third parties. Publishing a game under Animoca Brands provides a publisher with access to effective distribution and marketing services, backed by their expertise in the global marketplace. Kim notes that now it is relatively easy to develop a new app, even a very good one; the difficulty lies in ensuring that the app gets sufficient visibility and traction to succeed. This is where Animoca Brands can help. As well, both Animoca Brands and Animoca offer consumers quality entertainment, ranging from famous IP games to RPGs, intense action, or more female friendly games.

Kim’s focus is on building both Animoca and Animoca Brands to stand among the biggest mobile developers and publishers in the industry, across the globe. Their mission includes helping other game developers publish and promote their apps. Animoca Brands helps developers through its publishing division; Animoca itself no longer has a publishing division, but they are working on a new service for developers.

Animoca will also be expanding their Pretty Pet Salon and Star Girl series, two of their biggest successes as a developer. Animoca Brands will continue to increase its portfolio of famous intellectual property brands, to bring their customers games based on their favorite characters.

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David Kim with Yat Siu (left) at a holiday party at Animoca

Kim and his business partner, Yat Siu, have been working together for years; Animoca is their latest iteration. Recently, they have been joined by Robby Yung, who will lead Animoca Brands. They have been building games, launching online content and other types of services since the 1990s. By the time they started working on mobile games, they had already developed games for PC and consoles, including Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo. However, Kim emphatically states, “There is no industry like the mobile games industry in terms of its change of pace and dynamism. Whatever is in flavor can and likely will change in a couple of months or even a few weeks. The constant learning process that is required to stay ahead of the market is exhilarating, and that’s what keeps us in it.”

All Work and No Play Would Make Mr. Kim a Very Dull Boy

Kim also has little time for any interests outside of his work, so he participates vicariously by contributing to the passions of others, worthy causes that have taken on new life in the world of crowdfunding.

The demands of Kim’s professional and personal life no longer leave him much time for gaming, so when he does play, it is a brief session on his smartphone or tablet. Obviously, he plays a lot of Animoca’s games, such as Star Girl, the MMORPG Ragnarok: War of Gods, and running games such as Astro Boy Dash and Panda Run. And, he reveals, “I play our title Thor, Champion of Asgard whenever I feel the need for a crushing defeat, after which I always go back to classic time management gameplay, like Doraemon’s Repair Shop or My Car Salon.”

He also tries out many of their industry friends’ games; he needs to be familiar with what others are doing. But with so little time available, he plays only enough to get a taste.

Kim also has little time for any interests outside of his work, so he participates vicariously by contributing to the passions of others, worthy causes that have taken on new life in the world of crowdfunding. He supports two former colleagues who are trying to save the rain forest. To check out the project, go to:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/topherwhite/rainforest-connection-phones-turned-to-forest-guar

He also supports a college friend who is a doctor trying to better children’s lives through both medicine and music. To find out more about this project, go to:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2128707593/a-perfect-day-music-on-a-mission-to-help-kids-live/posts/914774

 

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