By Marina Sapunova, Marketing Content Manager, yellowHEAD
At Casual Connect Kyiv last month, yellowHEAD hosted an insightful panel titled “Accelerating Your Game Growth into 2020 with Key UA Techniques”. The participants were Javier Castro of Google, Jan Chichlowski of Vivid Games, and Alex Keselman of AppsFlyer.
During the panel, they discussed the future of user acquisition, the impact of app store optimization, the growing role of creatives, and the major changes that happened this year which will influence UA strategy in the future. They also touched on the constant challenge of rising CPIs and shared strategical approaches on how to overcome it and get set for growth moving forward into 2020.
The role of AI and machine-learning technologies with predictive algorithms were particularly in the spotlight of the conversation. A lot of insider information was shared by Google regarding Universal App Campaigns, how to adapt to the shift of all mobile app install campaigns coming together under one umbrella, and what to expect from this change.
It was a unique opportunity for the audience to get a 360° view of the industry and learn from the experts on how to overcome the current UA challenges, while seeking innovative ways to fuel app growth going into the near future.
By Valentina Ferrari, Consultant, Executive Search
Based on the reports of several intelligence forecasts, the virtual reality (VR) industry is growing strong and is only likely to become stronger in the future. For instance, according to Greenlight Insights – the global leader in virtual reality and augmented reality market intelligence – by the end of 2017, global VR revenues will reach over $7 billion and, by the year 2021, revenues will skyrocket to a total of nearly $75 billion.
This is a very bold prediction and one that not everyone is buying into. According to an article by Todd Spangler on Variety, Spangler – a NY Digital Editor – is highly skeptical that VR will ever hit mainstream because he believes that for most regular non-tech and non “bleeding-edge creative” people (the vast majority of us), while virtual reality is fun and enjoyable, it simply isn’t a must-have product the average person needs or wants in their home.
The Roadblocks of VR Mainstream Success
In addition to Spangler’s belief that most people aren’t likely to make VR a part of their staple entertainment diet, he also points out that Millennial and Gen Z consumers (the demographics most likely to jump on the VR bandwagon) have short attention spans. This could be a problem, considering – at the moment – immersive VR entertainment experiences require the user to wear a VR headset, demanding their full and undivided attention.
Why might this be problematic? Spangler points out that according to Deloitte’s 2017 “Digital Democracy Survey”, 99% of Millenial and Gen Z viewers take part in an average of four additional activities (e.g. texting, social media, shopping, etc.) while watching TV.
With roadblocks such as these, Spangler doesn’t see how virtual reality could “deliver enough bang for the buck to ever become a mass consumer market.”
Several Industries are embracing VR
Although the NY Digital Editor has made some valid points, the fact remains that there are several industries rushing to embrace VR. In addition to gaming, some of these include: Retail, Advertising, News, Music, Hollywood Films, Adult Entertainment, Travel, Space Travel, and Health Care.
Even the gambling industry is seeing the “casino connection” between gaming and VR, noting the many ways that it can make use of the tech to enhance the experience of customers in the land-based gambling arena. More specifically, VR may benefit the rise of skill-based gaming and the inclusion of VR booths could entice non-casino gamers into the casino.
Moreover, it’s not just the land-based casino market that’s latching on to the idea of an immersive gambling experience. An in-depth look at VR casino games, reveals that virtual reality and gambling is a growing trend among casino operators (e.g. SlotsMillion) and software developers (e.g. NetEnt, Microgaming and Lucky VR) alike.
Huge investments are being made in Virtual Reality
It’s no secret that giant corporations like Facebook, Samsung and Google (each of which have their own VR headsets) are making massive investments in the industry to evolve their own products and customer base. In fact, earlier this year, Co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, said that Facebook plans to invest more than $3 billion over the next 10 years in VR to bring the experience to hundreds of millions of users.
With so many diverse industries taking a step in the VR world, experts in these sectors clearly feel that the possibilities virtual reality has to offer are worth the risk of exploration and investment. Such a broad interest says something positive about the future adoption of this tech.
The bottom line is due to the fact that virtual reality entertainment is still in its very early stages, it is impossible for anyone to know if it will one day garner mainstream success. Still, positive predictions about the industry, huge corporations investing billions into the VR market, and more industries embracing virtual reality, could be a sign that there’s more to VR than it being a hyped-up short-lived fad.
No matter how big or small your studio is, one fact remains true: paying for users is expensive. Paying for good users is even more expensive. And being able to retain them is the philosopher’s stone that every publisher desires in order to succeed in the mobile ecosystem.
This article is not a diatribe against companies offering user acquisition services or against publishers who decide to use a paid strategy to increase their user base. With good performance and proper management of costs and life cycle, paid acquisition can be very beneficial and a great way to accelerate traction for your games.
This article aims to show there’s life beyond paid advertising. We are going to demonstrate how we succeed in increasing our user base by using alternative strategies and tactics that required no investment.
'To publishers: 'If you have to change it too much, then look for another game.' - Christopher LiuClick To Tweet
VNG has been the king of social platforms and games in Vietnam for over 10 years. With more than 50 licensed games and a 150 plus in-house development team, how can we decide which are the top games as we expand into the SEA region? During a session at Casual Connect Asia, Christopher Liu explained, “The number one thing that I think we have been really focusing on a lot in Vietnam and we are noticing in Southeast Asia is the phone specs. I think this is a big issue when we are looking at games especially coming from developers who don’t have much experience developing for countries like Vietnam.” Chris stressed taht when targeting countries like Vietnam, it is important to keep in mind the specs of the game. Some games may be too demanding for what is available in Vietnam. To learn more, listen to Chris’ presentation below.
'Data! Data! Data! Make your decisions by the numbers and not by gut feelings.'—Michael VelkesClick To Tweet
When your cost-per-install figures rise above your customer lifetime value, as they have for most of the mobile games industry, that’s when you’re in trouble — at least according to Michael Velkes’ Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015 lecture. “I would say that’s a broken business model,” Michael stated. “But we can overcome.” For Michael’s three tips on repairing your mobile games strategy, see Michael’s full session below.
Join the CEO & Co-founder of Playlab Jakob Lykkegaard as he spoke at Casual Connect USA last August. He talked about how Playlab manages their internal teams in Bangkok and Manila with data and how they have created an internal economy to give game teams and producers freedom to pick while still keeping accountability and high creativity alive. He also touched on how Playlab is scaling this way with help from external game teams. He iterated, “Vietnam and Malaysia are South-East Asia’s fastest growing markets for mobile gaming and revenue.”
'(In monetizing), keep all players happy without spamming them with ads.' - Saikala SultanovaClick To Tweet
As part of a developer marketing panel at Casual Connect Europe 2015, Saikala Sultanova discussed all facets of building long-lasting user relations, including opportunities, dilemmas and methods. “There is a marketing mix for a reason”, she commented. “You need to get some of the cross-promos, some of the organic traffic, package your product with lots of features…at the same time, it is very important to include paid traffic.” For more responses from the panel, see the video below.
'I get to meet and work with amazingly talented people every day.'–Allen TanClick To Tweet
White Widget Co-Founder Allen Tan described starting his self-funding studio and how the team learned to balance in-house and work-for-hire tasks in his Casual Connect Asia 2015 address. “We decided that it’s best to have a clear split between resources who would provide services for clients, and those who would work for our own games,” he says. To see more of the company’s journey, watch the video below.
'We are constantly finessing the Bee7 solution to adapt with users.'–Wandrille PruvotClick To Tweet
Wandrille Pruvot, VP of sales for Asia Pacific at Bee7 Limited, explained how Bee7 leveraged lessons learned from Outfit7’s games like Talking Tom and a network of over 250 million users to understand how to attract, retain and monetize app users during his Casual Connect Asia 2015 presentation. “There’s a lot of money that can be lost, and you have to be sure you have the right monetization tool,” he says. For ways to boost app revenue, see the video and slides below.
'Playlab will do only freemium; that is the only way forward.' –Jakob LykkegaardClick To Tweet
Last year, Playlab grew from 20 people to 100, and CEO Jakob Lykkegaard detailed what the company is doing to make sure success doesn’t crush out creativity in his Casual Connect Asia 2015 lecture. “One of the reasons for that [growth] is that last year, we at Casual Connect also met Niel [Dagondon] from Anino Games, and we acquired that studio in Manila a month after Casual Connect or so,” Jakob says.