Vlad Ceraldi, Co-founder of Hothead Games, came to the game industry with a military background that instilled valuable skills for a game developer. At the Royal Military College of Canada and while serving in the military, Vlad learned discipline, goal setting and how to function and survive without sleep—all skills essential in the game industry. But of course the assault rifle in Vlad’s sleeping quarters was traded for making first person shooter games.
Playtika’s Marketing Director Jeet Niyogi calls it a motivating challenge to be responsible for growing their user base across the globe, and has succeeded through smart marketing, app store optimization, leveraging brand equity, and most importantly by having a great product to market.
“There is no denying the fact that if you have a well-known brand the marketing team has a leg up, but at the end of the day the game has to keep delivering new and varied aha moments for the players to keep coming back.” In a Casual Connect USA panel Jeet and professionals from GSN Games, Murka and AdColony discussed the five most important trends app install marketers need to know right now about acquiring users and growing their apps.
Marketing a game developed for children comes with its challenges. Dealing with COPPA regulations in addition to the always-changing digital marketing landscape, can make it difficult to execute an effective user acquisition campaign. In his Casual Connect USA session, WildWorks’ Mitch Smiley explained how to embrace the challenge and run an ROI-positive campaign, with success stories and learning opportunities from the leading web-based kids game in the US, Animal Jam.
At Casual Connect USA, Bryan Bennett, Vice President of Marketing at AGS Interactive, was part of a panel that addressed the essential question in the game industry: how to realize a profit with your game. And while the question sounds simple, navigating the answers to it is considerably more complex. How, for example, do you find and acquire the highest value users, how do you succeed on Instagram or make the best use of Facebook ad products. Should you expand your business into other geographic markets and how do you decide which ones.
The methods of monetizing that developers have been using in free-to-play no longer work with today’s sophisticated audiences according to Greg Costikyan. Greg is the Senior Game Designer for Boss Fight Entertainment, with a career in the game industry that has spanned three decades and included more than 30 commercially published games. During this time Greg has received honors that include the IGDA Maverick Award for “tireless promotion of independent games”, five Origins Awards and is an inductee into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame.
But after all this experience, Greg emphasizes that effective monetization is essential for a game to succeed. In the past, monetization methods have included hard gates, painful pinches and spammy calls to monetization: crude methods that players no longer tolerate. Games are about delighting players, but now the call to monetization must also delight. Not only that, players can only be retained if they feel their money has been well spent. To learn more about Greg’s ideas on how to accomplish this, watch this video of the full session from Casual Connect USA.
For more about Greg Costikyan, see this exclusive article.
Will Hummel is the Manager of Global Investment at Perfect World. As such, he works as part of Perfect World’s Global Investment team, with a focus on investment and M&A in the U.S. and Europe. He works to expand Perfect World’s portfolio, which is important since the company recently returned to being publicly traded on the Shenzhen A-share Index. Will has worked as a lawyer for years, but shifting his focus from legal debt restructuring to game financing was a conscious decision.
With Asia currently trending in the games market, companies both within and outside the region take a closer look at all possible opportunities related, including investments. The right investor can not only bring you the right user platforms, but also the right relationships to other potential partners. Amy Huang, AVP of NetEase Capital, whose portfolio consists of top game studios which span the world, dived into these questions in their session at Casual Connect USA 2016. “When you are building your financial forecast, you want to be realistic in the predictions. What you can deliver based on the metrics that you already know about your game and then you do the math for them. Convince them that this is a positive investment. That is something that very much aligns the expectations”, they explained.
The casual games market isn’t going anywhere else than towards growth, says 24/7 Games’ CEO John Battagline, who created their studio from scratch, on their own, with no money, years ago. They released themed versions of games like sudoku, poker and blackjack: this made sense because of a well-established audience, but not intellectual properties in the traditional sense, that those games have. Now, they’re reapplying the lessons learned, with the new label, Burger Circus. “If you re-skin, re-purpose and recycle, you will rapidly create a lot of products, and every single one of them will allow you to gradually accumulate an audience. Hopefully you are going to hit a slam dunk and get a ton of users. The idea is that this will have an upward spiral effect”, John explained in their Casual Connect USA session, sharing the experience of crafting their game, RogueMON, on a don’t-quit-your-day-job budget.
Two years ago Larry DeMar, President of Leading Edge Design, predicted that the game industry would soon be seeing more and more convergence, certainly with console, PC and mobile, but also in the slots arena between brick and mortar, online and free-to-play. And today, given the regulatory market in real money gaming, that convergence may be more important than ever. At Casual Connect USA, Larry was part of a panel discussing how social casino may be the answer to the restrictions on real money gaming and how social casino studios can work with land-based casinos and other real money gaming companies.
Bob Heubel, a haptic technology evangelist for Immersion Corporation, specializes in helping developers implement force-feedback, tactile-feedback or rumble-feedback effects. With more than 16 years of assisting developers in designing and programming tactile sensations into their games and interactive experiences, Bob holds a number of patents in the field of Haptics.
Bob was one of the judges for the Indie Prizes at Casual Connect USA, and after the award ceremony, participated in the Meet the Jury Panel. With the other members of the Jury, Bob shared experiences in playtesting, what they look for, and what particular elements were crucial in the winners’ success. To learn more, watch this video of their discussion.
For more information about Bob Heubel, click here.