main

ContributionsOnlinePR & Marketing

A Comprehensive Analysis of the Tools that Support Mobile Game Development (Part 2)

September 10, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

182.png

A managing partner of Bitfold Online Games, Mike Turner knows his way around the design and development of mobile and social games. He also plays the role of analyst at times. He provides a guide to tools that can benefit mobile game developers in this two-part article series.


This article series aims to clarify what useful tools and services exist for each lifecycle step and provide a framework for evaluating their usefulness to your product. When talking about game operations tools, it’s helpful to segment them by stage in the player’s lifecycle they address:

1. System Management Tools: Keep game servers and clients healthy
2. User Acquisition Tools: Get new users into your game
3. Behavioral Analytics: Understand users and their desires
4. Engagement and Retention Tools: Keep users engaged for longer
5. Monetization Tools: Boost the number of paid conversions & spend per user

In this second of two articles, we will be looking at the remaining three of the five segments of game operations tools: behavioral analytics, engagement and retention tools, and monetization tools. If you missed the first part of this series, you can catch up here.

2

Behavioral Analytics

Behavioral analytics are critical. Everyone knows this. What everyone doesn’t know is what data they should be tracking, what tools they should be using to do so, and what to do with that data once they have it. This section will try to shed some light on what data is most important, how you should be thinking about using that data to manage your game into a financial success, and what tools will be the most effective in helping you do that.

Deeply Understand the Different User Cohorts

15

Different users will respond very differently to the content and features of your games. They will also have different lifetimes and behaviors in the game. Successful developers work hard early on to determine how users should be cohorted based upon their usage patterns, demographic, and traffic source, and then they carefully manage each of these cohorts to maximize their experience and positive behaviors in your game (such as social engagement, lifetime, and spending).

Heartbeat vs. Actionable KPIs – Actionable KPIs are More Important

16

Heartbeat KPIs are things such as DAU and ARPU that tell you about the general health of your game. They do not give you deep insights into behavior, however. You need to establish KPIs, specific to your game, which help you understand what your players retain and why, what features and content they engage with, and when your players monetize.

As you define what’s important, you often need to dig deeply into your data to find out what’s happening.

Experiment. A lot. Use A/B testing
Test fixes, content, and new features constantly, and test them against control groups. A lot of your guesses as to what will help improve user behavior will actually be wrong, but some will lead to significant improvements in your numbers. A/B testing will help you a lot in your experiments.

Do More than React. Model and Predict
Don’t just release and test. Predict. After a while, you will have enough data to establish trends and create mathematical models that predict user responses to specific content and changes.

Engage, Engage, Engage

What to look for in tools:

17

Actively engage each specific cohort of users with content that they love and offers they would like. It increases their engagement and maximizes their spending.

A Comparison of Tools

The following is a list of analytics tools that are well suited to online game development. Each of their offerings are slightly different, so we recommend first determining the needs of your game and reaching out to them to get the details of their offerings.

18

These tools are extremely helpful to your analysis. For most companies, it would take longer than is possible to create an in-house metrics solution that mimics their functionality. However, all games are unique, and none of these tools will measure EVERYTHING you need to measure.

When first launching your game and throughout its early lifetime, these tools will be more than sufficient. However, if your game becomes a huge success, you’ll want to supplement these tools with your own analysis tools that create custom metrics and analyses that these tools can’t. This will help you ensure you have the absolute best idea of what your players want and how to please them.

Finally, pair your behavioral analytics with good system metrics in order to avoid system downtime hurting your KPIs. DeltaDNA, one of the leading gaming analytics packages, cites technical issues as a top reason for users failing to engage with an app. This implies that although many game developers may be doing a good job understanding and serving users, they may not be managing their system problems as well as they could. And it’s hurting their revenue.

19

To avoid technical issues damaging your game’s numbers, you want to ensure that in addition to having excellent behavioral analytics, your operations team is equipped with proper logging and server monitoring tools. This helps ensure your system remains as error free as possible.

Engagement and Retention Tools

User engagement can (roughly) be boiled down to the following components:

21

Given that your game design is engaging, behavioral metrics packages are your primary tool for understanding your users and knowing how to engage them. There are, however, a few extra tools that act as supplements to your ability to engage users.

Optimized Player Segmentation and Targeting

Creating player segments and deciding what features and content suit them best is challenging. You can use simple observation of your metrics to determine this, but there are some statistical tools that can greatly improve your predictive ability. Honeylizer is one of the best tools for this and will help you determine how players should be segmented and what the best content is to serve to those segments.

Social Engagement – Integration with Established Social Networks

People like playing with their friends. In a game, if they have the option to play the game with friends, they will often do so. You can create this integration yourself with Facebook Graph’s and iOS Game Center, and if you have the resources, you should try this.

23

However, the Game Center and Facebook Graph API are fairly complex and change all the time. This means your app’s social integration can break constantly. If you’d prefer to outsource the management of this, you can choose third-party packages that make integration and maintenance of social functionality easy.

Multiplayer Facilitation

Adding social networking and multiplayer elements to your game can often grow your engagement. A few tools provide libraries and services to you, which help you integrate with social networks fast and provide multiplayer functionality to your game.

24

Both of these packages offer social network integration. For multiplayer functionality, Swarm focuses more on leaderboards and achievements, while Nextpeer focuses on facilitating peer-to-peer multiplayer functionality within your core gameplay.

Customer Experience Management and Help Desks

As your game grows to tens and hundreds of thousands of users, you will often become flooded with support issues that, if unmanaged, can damage your online and app store reviews. Having a system to manage support issues will help your users feel like they’re being taken care of and help you better understand what users are qualitatively thinking.

Your customer support system should include the following:
● A wiki or set of support pages with issue FAQs and support information
● A ticket system for customers to report issues
● A web portal to respond to customer tickets
● Optional customer support outsourcing to help you manage inquiries

Vendors that provide such systems include the following:

25

For most games, an overwhelming amount of customer complaints are due to operational issues. If a large number of players are complaining about something, you can use logging tools to help you identify the problem and solve it immediately.

Monetization Tools

Games today are overwhelmingly free-to-play and monetized primarily via in-game purchases. However, ads can be a strong source of secondary income for a developer that implements them well.

Ad Publishing

Today, advertising providers offer a wide variety of options for apps and games. These include native ads, rewarded installs and actions, rewarded video, moment ads, rich media ads, and ad mediation and bidding. (More information on these options can be found in the first part of this article series).

27

There is a lot of variety in the amount of return these ads can give you and what each advertiser pays. Before integrating ads, you should look carefully at the rates that companies pay for each type of advertising.

Maximize Payouts, Minimize Annoyed Users

You want to maximize your ad impressions clicks while minimizing the annoyance of your users.

Some good rules of thumb in this process are:
● Use native ads to imbed them directly into the UI of your game so that they are a fluid part of the game’s experience and don’t disturb the player.
● Place moment ads in areas where players can get ahead by interacting with the ads.
● Offer rewarded ads at points where extra in-game currency will benefit the user.
● If using ad tools that offer mediation, use the mediation and real-time bidding tools the ad provider offers to get the most contextual content to your users. This will maximize your user’s interaction with it and help to minimize their annoyance.

Matrix of ad publishing service each network provides
Matrix of ad publishing service each network provides

Implementing in-app purchases can be somewhat tedious. If this is tripping you up, you can use SOOMLA to help you speed this process up.

When Should You Use Third-Party Game Operation Tools?

Let’s quickly recap the strategies for choosing tools for maximizing your game’s performance at each step of the customer lifecycle.

1. System Management Tools
Online games are put under an incredible amount of stress and things fail – a lot. To keep your system at optimal uptime, you should have good logging tools to detect and solve system issues quickly.

2. User Acquisition Tools
31Today, there are a variety of advertising formats beyond mobile banner ads. If you don’t have a big advertising budget, work to get lots of organic traffic via social media, app store optimization, and direct deals with other developers through direct-deal platforms like those that Chartboost offers.

If you do have a decent marketing budget, work hard to design good native and rich media ads and place them using mediation tools with ad networks that have game-centric focuses. Continually fine-tune your campaigns until you find the best ads and the best networks.

3. Behavioral Analytics
Behavioral analytics are your primary tools for understanding who your users are, what they like, and how to serve them. In focusing on your users, you want to focus on actionable KPIs and insights instead of top-level ones like simple DAU and ARPDAU.

When searching for tools, you want to look for those that provide you the rigorous ability to segment users, define your own KPIs, track where your users came from, and data mine deep into your data for granular insights.

4. Engagement and Retention Tools
Retention and engagement is primarily a function of the developer’s ability to understand who users are and cater to their desires. However, there are tools out there that help you automate the process of classifying your users, tools that help you bring social functionality to the game, and tools that help you directly support customer issues with your games.

5. Monetization Tools

Microtransactions are the primary form of making money in a free-to-play game, but ads are a great secondary form of revenue.

Microtransactions are the primary form of making money in a free-to-play game, but ads are a great secondary form of revenue. The same options for advertising (listed above) are great for monetizing. The best way to optimize monetization via ads (ad publishing) is to make ads a seamless experience in your app and place them at points where interacting with ads is beneficial for your users. Make the same rigorous use of behavioral analytics you use elsewhere in your game to maximize your ad revenue!

Using a Decision Framework to Decide on Tool Usage

These tools are meant to automate key functions of game operations. However, they do require effort to integrate and they do cost money.

So when making the decision to use third-party tools, you want to ask a few questions:

● How crucial is the functionality the tool provides to your game? Does your game REALLY require it?
● What does your team say about it?
● How time consuming is it to integrate and maintain? Some are easier, some are more complex.
● Do the tools bring a greater revenue or cost savings than the cost of the tool?
● Do these easily work with your chosen game engine and technology platform?

Once you’ve run through this checklist with your team, you can make the decision!

 

BusinessExclusive InterviewsIndustryOnline

DeltaDNA CEO Mark Robinson on Current F2P Challenges

August 27, 2014 — by Industry Contributions

feature59.jpg

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

2
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.

3
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.

1
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

Richard Weil: Always Looking at the Next Big Thing | Casual Connect Video

July 29, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature59.jpg

“When I left Scigames, the last thing I did there was the purchase of WMS, and I learned a lot about social casino and social games, and had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest real-money poker companies like 888 and PlayTech,” said Richard Weil during the panel he moderated at Casual Connect USA 2014.

rweil
Richard Weil

Richard Weil currently manages his own games consulting practice, coming to this endeavor with over 20 years in the lottery, gaming, and interactive industries. Previously, he was the senior vice president of strategy and business development at Scientific Games Corporation, he assisted in the $1.5 billion acquisition of WMS, one of the world’s leading game companies.

The most satisfying time in his career came while he was the president of Fun Technologies, Inc., an online social and sports gaming company. While there, he contributed to raising $80 million for the acquisition of eight companies, oversaw the management of these companies and, in March 2006, assisted in the sale of 51 percent of Fun Technologies to Liberty Media Corp.

Intersecting with Real Money Gaming

In 2010, after several years as a gaming business consultant, he launched Sciplay and became its CEO and managing director. Sciplay is a business focused on providing solutions to regulated operators, such as lotteries. This venture introduced the US lotteries to the interactive business and was the start of their players clubs, loyalty programs, and online marketing schemes.

In the future of the games industry, Weil believes it will be essential to devise ways to take advantage of the social gaming boom as it intersects with real money gaming and the bricks and mortar retail business.

info
Weil believes it will be essential to devise ways to take advantage of the social gaming boom as it intersects with real money gaming and the bricks and mortar retail business.

Having Some Old Fashion Fun

Weil loves everything about free-to-play games, saying this model is a great way to play and operate games. He describes himself as something of an old-fashioned gamer who enjoys playing Solitaire, Bejeweled, and other classic games on his iPad. He prefers mobile gaming and owns no consoles.

As someone born in Toronto, Canada, it is not surprising to learn that Weil is an avid hockey fan, and he found it a difficult defeat this year when the LA Kings overcame the NY Rangers to win the Stanley Cup. He also enjoys all types of water sports.

 

USA 2014Video Coverage

Mike DeLaet – Understanding In-Game Economies | Casual Connect Video

July 28, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature4.jpg

“History tends to repeat itself,” says Mike DeLaet in a panel during Casual Connect USA. “You’ve seen, with the feature phone days, this happened: original IP came in and took over because licensing costs kind of went through the roof. As more and more developers start going licensed IP, you will probably see this happen again.”

DOWNLOAD SLIDES

Mike DeLaet came to Kabam in March 2013 as their senior vice president of worldwide business development. After 2012, when Kabam had the #1 Top Grossing Game on iOS for the entire year, he recognized that Kabam really understood free-to-play monetization, and realized this was a place he wanted to be. When Kevin Chou approached him about a unique opportunity to help them grow to new heights, he was quick to sign on.

Mike
When Kevin Chou approached DeLaet about a unique opportunity to help Kabam grow to new heights, he was quick to sign on.

Understanding In-Game Economies

DeLaet has strong opinions about F2P. He applauds how it makes game companies create really engaging and deep games that allow consumers to vote with their wallets, rather than charging them $60 for a game that could be terrible. He sees only one serious drawback: most game companies still don’t understand how in-game economies work and how to best utilize them in their games. Unfortunately, they tend to make paywalls in the game as a monetization strategy. This approach only alienates the players, causing them to fall out of their games and hurting the image of what a good F2P game really is.

At Kabam, DeLaet runs the global business development team, which involves managing all their platform partnerships on a global basis. The team is responsible for all business development at the company, as well as driving many great customers into their games. Since joining Kabam, he has effectively led the company forward through platform partnerships with Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft.

jb-kabam-3071
Since joining Kabam, he has effectively led the company forward through platform partnerships with Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft.

Finding A Winner

For the past 15 years, DeLaet has been involved with mobile. He served as the senior vice president of global publishing at Glu Mobile, Inc., where he led the company’s expansion into Asia and gained significant market share in China, South Korea, and Japan. Prior to this, he worked for Sprint, most recently running the games business with more than 30 partnerships, including EA, Glu Mobile, Gameloft, Disney, and Popcap. But the proudest moment of his career was joining Kabam; he says, “I knew this was a winning team that could be very disruptive to the entire games industry.”

Upcoming Trends

He believes the next important trend coming to the games industry is higher fidelity products with monetization of the 2D strategy games that dominate today. He also expects to see more users playing on tablets or phablets for a deeper experience while on the go.

jb-kabam-2981
DeLaet believes the next important trend coming to the games industry is higher fidelity products with monetization of the 2D strategy games that dominate today.

DeLaet is a gamer who enjoys playing on all platforms, so he owns a PS4, Xbox One, PS3, PS Vita, and multiple iPhones and iPads. He claims, “I definitely appreciate a great mobile game or a deep console one”. But his favorite platform is mobile, because it allows him to play wherever he goes and in short sessions while still getting the satisfaction he wants from gaming. Currently, he is playing The Hobbit: The Kingdom of Middle Earth.

His work leaves him with little free time, and he is also very busy with his three children and their activities whenever he is not working or traveling. But he still loves gaming and sports such as football, baseball, and basketball.

 

USA 2014Video Coverage

Marguerite Dibble: Problem Solving With Games | Casual Connect Video

July 24, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature8.jpg

“There is a necessity for understanding what is the worst case versus what is the best case,” says Marguerite Dibble during a panel at Casual Connect USA 2014.

headtest
Marguerite Dibble, President and Creative Director, gametheory

Marguerite Dibble is the president and creative director of gametheory (formerly Birnam Wood Games). While still a student at Champlain College, Dibble founded Birnam Wood Games, a company which produced its own IP, as well as doing contract projects and engagement consulting for clients. During the past two years, the company has released more than a dozen titles for iOS and Android platforms.

Dibble credits Champlain College with helping her start a game company through their game development program and entrepreneurial-focused curriculum. The program and faculty members were always available for advice and the opportunity to make connections.

Receiving Praise

Their most recent release, Pathogen, received outstanding reviews and won several awards. In the App Store, it ranked #1 board game on iPhone/iPad in 11 countries and hit the Top One Hundred Games in 45 countries. Dibble says, “It was pretty awesome to see our title in ‘Best New Games’ the day we launched it on the App Store. We have a great title and a strong publisher that all came together for that result.”

IMG_0645
Pathogen received outstanding reviews and won several awards.

Game Theory Problem Solving

In 2014, Birnam Wood Games was renamed gametheory and given a new direction and brand. While continuing to produce their own titles and doing contract game development, they now focus on bringing game theory into new businesses and fields to solve problems by making them more fun and satisfying to address. Dibble states, “We’re excited to bring gaming tools into whole new areas, letting games spread what they do best: engage and entertain, directing those ends towards larger goals.”

As the games industry evolves in the next few years, gametheory will be interested in following how user behaviors in general will develop and how games will intersect with other businesses and interests. Monetization is another aspect of the industry that Dibble expects to change significantly. She emphasizes that, with paid apps barely scraping by and IAP inspiring restrictive legislation, a new and evolving model for monetization is a necessity.

IMG_0682
As the games industry evolves in the next few years, gametheory will be interested in following how user behaviors in general will develop and how games will intersect with other businesses and interests.

When Dibble is not working, she enjoys writing and watching TV, especially British panel shows. She also reads, spends time on boats and enjoys the company of her parrot.

Her gaming these days is usually done on her phone, but she actually prefers playing on her PC or her 3DS. Currently, she is playing ME3, simply because she just didn’t get around to it earlier. She is evidently a very disciplined free-to-play player, never having spent more than $20 in a game. And that was for Clash of Clans, for testing purposes.

Dibble owns and plays on several consoles: N64 for Ocarina of Time, Xbox 360, originally for Oblivion, and PS2 for Amplitude and Space Channel 5. But she has never had to pay for any of them; they were all acquired from people who were throwing them away for various reasons. “Except for my 3DS,” she says. “I certainly paid for that!”

 

USA 2014Video Coverage

Giordano Contestabile Believes In Mobile | Casual Connect Video

July 24, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature7.jpg

“It’s true that the market is dominated by a few players, but still, if you look at the number of the 100 grossing apps right now on the IOS, it is doing about 30K a day,” says Giordano Contestabile during Casual Connect USA. “If you can keep it going for one year, that means a 10 million dollar round rate.”

Giordano Contestabile,Vice President of Product Management, Tilting Point Media
Giordano Contestabile,Vice President of Product Management, Tilting Point Media

Giordano Contestabile is the vice president of product management at Tilting Point Media, a company that focuses on partnering with elite independent game developers, helping them to succeed in the market with funding, product feedback, and marketing services. Contestabile’s team handles product management, UX/UI, analytics and user acquisition, working with developers from the very early stage of the development process to post-launch operations.

Recognized Efforts

When Leo’s Fortune, developed by their partner 1337/Senri, won an Apple Design Award, they were extremely proud of this achievement that was the result of two years of work. The team’s focus on making the highest quality experience led to this recognition and support from Apple.

Leos_Fortune_App_Icon
Leo’s Fortune was launched as a premium game on iOS at a time when everyone told them the market for premium games was dead.

Leo’s Fortune was launched as a premium game on iOS at a time when everyone told them the market for premium games was dead. But the game was received extremely well, was a financial success and was Editor’s Choice in 135 countries, as well as receiving the Apple award. From this experience, Contestabile learned that even though F2P is the overwhelming majority of the market, there is still space for extremely high-quality, original premium experiences.

Building The Business

Now Tilting Point Media is looking to develop as broad and diversified a portfolio as possible in terms of genre, theme, and business model. The overarching intention is for all their games to be extremely high quality and original; the market is so competitive that only great products will be able to rise above the rest.

Prior to coming to Tilting Point Media, Contestabile was the executive producer of the Bejeweled franchise for EA; handling a massively popular live game, such as Bejeweled Blitz, taught him a great deal about how much complexity is involved in developing and operating free-to-play games. He loves the opportunity F2P offers to make games available to a large audience, with games now reaching hundreds of millions of people who weren’t playing them before. Unfortunately, the past few years have seen low-quality clones and uninspired games flood the market. However, the market has evolved, and low-quality games are finding it harder and harder to succeed. He calls this a great development.

Contestabile is a long-time PC gamer, but his current favorite platform is his iPad, not only for reasons of available time and portability, but because recently a large number of very high-quality games have been released. His game preferences include Threes, Leo’s Fortune, Twodots, Toy Rush and Trials Frontier. He also owns a PS4 and an Xbox One, using them mainly for sports games and to watch movies and videos.

ToyRush_Characters
Tilting Point’s Toy Rush is just one of the games Contestablie enjoys

When he is not involved in gaming, he loves art, design, fashion, food, and wine. Fortunately, these are found in abundance where he lives in New York City.

Believing In Mobile

Contestabile sees huge potential coming in cross-platform, and he believes mobile and tablet will be central to it. So Tilting Point Media is making sure all their games will be ready for a future in which a player will play on mobile, tablet, and big screen devices. Players will expect the best user experience on all of these. He believes in the future there will be a strong trend toward experiences that are differentiated on each device, but are interconnected.

 

Asia 2014Video Coverage

Simon Newstead and Creating Popular Games | Casual Connect Video

June 10, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature40.jpg

“So stories are dead right?” Simon Newstead asked during Casual Connect Asia 2014. “I think what this talk is about is that no, story games aren’t dead, in fact there are some very successful ones which are making quite a lot of money now, but the rules have changed. The challenges and what worked five, ten years ago is not working in the mobile, free-to-play generation.”

DOWNLOAD SLIDES

Simon Newstead, CEO and lead game designer at Frenzoo, claims the most important moment of his career was when he decided to leave a steady job with a great company for the perils of entrepreneurship. He says, “Life was too short not to do something creative and take hold of my own destiny. It was some years ago now, but I am glad I did it.”

Simon Newstead, CEO and Lead Game Designer, Frenzoo

From Virtual Worlds to Games

Newstead first started Frenzoo many years ago to create virtual worlds. Later, he pivoted the company to begin creating 3D mobile games. Prior to starting Frenzoo, he worked for the Asia region of Juniper Networks running the Advanced Technology Group.  While there, he learned how to assess a market and how to work with a team of engineers and understand their point of view, abilities which he still finds useful at Frenzoo.

2
The company has gone on to create the very successful Me Girl series.

When Frenzoo launched their first game, Style Me Girl, its enormous popularity forever altered Newstead’s outlook on his company. He now had the confidence to go on and invest in more games for that audience and to try to build up a portfolio. His confidence was well-placed, as the company has gone on to create the very successful Me Girl series.

These days, Newstead’s personal gaming consists of playing the games Frenzoo has in development, as well as many others in parallel. One of these he particularly enjoys is Little Empire. He also has nostalgia for some of the old remakes and ports to mobile, including such games as Kotor and Baldur’s Gate. Usually, he can be found playing on his Nexus tablet.

He especially appreciates free-to-play because it allows him to sample so many games. He also enjoys seeing so many free-to-play games arise out of nowhere to become blockbuster hits. However, he detests seeing excessive in-app purchases within a paid high end title.

He has very little time to play on console currently, but he does enjoy some Grand Theft Auto on his Xbox 360. And he plans to get both Xbox One and PS4 soon.

Virtual Reality Boom?

Newstead believes the most important emerging trend in the games industry is virtual reality. He says, “We’d love to do something for that platform. We’ll be playing around with it more this year. It seems like a great fit, since we’re 3D avatar focused.”

 

Asia 2014Video Coverage

Clark Stacey on the Importance of Creativity | Casual Connect Video

June 9, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature35.jpg

“Parents of young kids in the US tend to be more strict about the use of games than they are about other media, other entertainment sources,” Clark Stacey told his audience during Casual Connect Asia 2014. “So your game in the US needs to appeal to kids, but it also needs to appeal to parents, especially moms, and what parents are looking for, what they’re most interested in, is whether or not the game as any value beyond just entertainment, primarily”.

Asia 2014Video Coverage

Momchil Kyurkchiev on How to Solve Problems in Mobile Development | Casual Connect Video

June 6, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature14.jpg

“Everybody looks at acquisition costs, but then the LTV (Life Time Value) is also really important,” Momchil Kyurkchiev explains during Casual Connect Asia 2014. “And how do you make the most out of the users that you have already acquired? Well, you need to make sure you have the most ideal user experience in your mobile game. That’s really the art behind A/B testing.”

DOWNLOAD SLIDES

Momchil
Momchil Kyurkchiev, Co-Founder and CEO, Leanplum

Momchil Kyurkchiev, Co-Founder and CEO of Leanplum, claims the proudest moment of his career was when they were selected for Techstars in Seattle. The support and networking opportunities the program created have been invaluable to Kyurkchiev and Leanplum in reaching the success they are experiencing today.

Building The Team

Kyurkchiev and Andrew First, Co-Founder and CTO of Leanplum, worked extremely hard to be chosen from a pool of thousands and gain acceptance by this elite incubator. Techstars provided them with access to great mentors, and allowed them to build an exciting initial product and to secure funding. Shortly after, with a compelling vision and a team focused on enabling mobile developers, PMs and marketers to optimize content and messaging within their apps, they launched their product into the market.

Kyurkchiev and First met when they were both lead techs for the ad team for Youtube at Google. While there, they gained valuable experience in understanding how to approach A/B testing, all the while thinking about features that would help end users. They were inspired by the Lean Startup methodology around their iterative development and feedback cycles, so their intent is to have Leanplum reflect, live, and evangelize that data-driven philosophy.

2012-oct-team-at-techstars
The team at Techstars in Seattle

Doing What You Know

The inspiration for Leanplum evolved as they discovered the Lean Startup model breaks on mobile as companies are struggling to iterate quickly. When they realized there was no good way to do A/B testing on mobile, they turned their passion for A/B testing into a company that offers a platform for optimizing mission critical metrics specifically for apps.

Leanplum customers have told them that they need more use-case driven dashboards and recipes, so the company is now focusing on making sure these customers get exactly what they need. They have published a cookbook of A/B testing recipes for game developers, and they are also working to bake the use cases directly into their dashboard.

Automatic Insights
The company is now focusing on making sure their customers get exactly what they need.

Trends For The Future?

Kyurkchiev believes the next big trend coming to the games industry will be the shift to wearables and VR. He says, “As devices shrink, developers are going to have to think about how to create compelling experiences on any device. Those that can keep up will be richly rewarded.” And he feels this applies equally to middleware companies such as Leanplum.

Team
“As devices shrink, developers are going to have to think about how to create compelling experiences on any device. Those that can keep up will be richly rewarded.”

When not working, Kyurkchiev, enjoys relaxing, exercising and spending time with his wife. His interest in gaming has him currently playing Assassin’s Creed on Xbox, saying, “It’s one of the most immersive experiences out there.”

He also tells us he loves free-to-play, since games have become a service that can change and evolve with their players. Unfortunately, free-to-play also includes some irritating upsell mechanics.

At Casual Connect Asia, Kyurkchiev announced Leanplum’s launch of behavioral push notifications and in-app messaging into public beta. The new feature comes fully integrated with A/B testing, and will enable mobile app developers, product managers, and marketers to A/B test and trigger messaging based off in-app behaviors in order to create more personalized and relevant player communications.

 

Asia 2014Video Coverage

Jonathan Flesher on Real Money Gaming | Casual Connect Video

June 5, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

feature1.jpg

“Real money gambling is actually a lot larger than you guys think,” Jonathan Flesher said at Casual Connect Asia 2014. “People say ‘Oh, well, you know, you are limiting your activity to the UK alone.’ Just to be clear, social casino worldwide is approximately $3 billion, $2.9, $3.1, roughly $3 billion dollars. The UK online gambling market alone, just the UK, is $3.5 billion.”

Jonathan Flesher, the executive vice-president at Betable, leads the company’s business development group, which includes commercial partnerships and developer relations. He finds his previous work in similar roles at both Zynga and Electronic Arts an advantage now that he is at a platform for game developers to get into real money gaming. The last deal he signed for Zynga with bwin.party was especially useful, helping him to understand the intersection between virtual currency and real money gaming.

Jonathan Flesher Headshot
Jonathan Flesher, Executive Vice-President, Betable

Keep It Authentic

Now that he has worked in both the video games industry and in real money gaming, he has come to respect some of the virtual casino developers who have voluntarily chosen to use real random number generators to determine all play outcomes, even during the first-time player onboarding experience. He states, “Some say it gives their game a more ‘authentic’ casino feel, which I agree with, but I also think it creates a more transparent relationship with the consumer. I’d like to see more F2P developers take similar steps in their games as appropriate to the genre or game mechanic.”

He emphasizes that Betable, as a regulated gambling operator, is required by law to determine play outcomes using certified random number generators. This is the industry standard and something Betable was already doing.

Growth Through Real Money Gaming

Flesher sees real money gaming becoming the next big thing in video games. This is why he joined Betable; it is the first and leading company enabling this intersection. He asserts, “We will see more and more interesting games that incorporate real money play over the next few years. They will bring a whole new level of entertainment to ‘gambling’ as we know it.”

Betable_logo
Flesher sees real money gaming becoming the next big thing in video games. This is why he joined Betable.

For his personal gaming, Flesher has always preferred FPS on PC. But these days he has little time, so he usually plays on his iPad Mini, feeling,“It is the best blend between a tablet and a smartphone, giving you a decent screen size and better handheld playability.” He hasn’t yet found a decent FPS for touch screen, and actually hates virtual joysticks. So he is now playing a lot of casino games and poker for work, and, in his free time, he enjoys Real Racing 3 and Deer Hunter 2014. And he is very excited to play Hitman GO.

Immediate Consumer Feedback

F2P has really opened up the market and made it far more accessible and social to a large number of people, in Flesher’s opinion. Previously, there was always a price barrier that was a limiting factor in audience size in all but the largest franchises. F2P also dramatically expanded games-as-service, giving developers live feedback on content as they grow their games. These developers no longer had to rely only on experience, gut instinct, and play tests to find the right formula for success.

F2P has really opened up the market and made it far more accessible and social to a large number of people, in Flesher’s opinion.

However, he has also seen that F2P is typically supported by a very small set of payers who spend outsized amounts of money in the game. He says, “While it may be fine for a wealthy person to spend six or seven figures in a game, we all know the stories of players spending beyond their means or falling prey to other unhealthy behaviors.” He also states that he can easily see the entertainment value in a $60 console game such as FIFA or GTA, but it is hard to see the average F2P player getting similar entertainment value for that amount of money.

Flesher finds great satisfaction in working in an industry that he really loves and that brings smiles to the faces of so many people. He claims the proudest moment of his career came the first time his children visited him at work, saying, “I’m not sure I would have gotten the same response from my kids if I had still been working in financial services.”

When not working or gaming, Flesher is an auto/go-kart racer and advanced scuba diver, both activities he loves. To keep in shape, he wrestles with his kids, works out at a CrossFit gym, and takes occasional yoga classes.

 

logo
SUPPORTED BY