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Last update: March 2020

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GameCamp 2020: Exploring the World of Mobile Gaming

On February 4-5, 2020, OpenBack attended two days of GameCamp in Warsaw, Poland. We met with amazing people from the gaming community and mobile gaming scene. We also made key insights over the two days, as we attended many presentations and keynotes on the developments and challenges of mobile game development. Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that push notifications have a wide range of applications in this industry. We are excited to learn more about crossover points between gaming apps and mobile engagement.

Growth Trends and Strategies To Lower CPI

The first day of GameCamp focused on growth and scaling strategies. The conference kicked off with a presentation by Mariusz Gąsiewski, Google’s Head of Mobile Gaming and Apps. In it, he explored the data behind various growth trends across gaming genres and global regions. Essentially, we are seeing healthy growth in all gaming categories except 4x strategy and battle games. According to data from Google Play for the years 2017-2019, Japan and the United States top the charts in terms of revenue earned from mobile games. However, in terms of number of downloads, India and Brazil are in the lead.

Erik Hegely from Pixel Federation then offered a series of strategies based on case studies for lowering CPI by implementing ASO into UA workflow. Having a sustainable, repeatable, and balanced acquisition strategy requires treating it as a system of compounding loops. (As opposed to the traditional marketing funnel.) This includes the paid acquisition loop (UA) which will already be worked into an app’s business plan.

However, just as important is the organic acquisition loop (ASO), which involves a bit more creative legwork to optimize. Hegely advised experimenting every day to increase your game’s visibility. Then, closely track your results on Google Sheets for review. In addition, it’s important to continuously update keywords, brainstorm, and research competitor trends to attract more organic visitors. Metrics such as conversion rate (CVR) and ROAS are imperative. Also, if budgeting allows, it helps to work with a mobile app or gaming influencer, in the interest of viral marketing.

Image Source: Pixel Federation

Performance Marketing and Driving Profitability

Andrej Kugonic, the UA lead of Nordeus, then gave a presentation on fomenting the growth of games through performance marketing in the upcoming year. Kugonic shared the strategies he has implemented at Nordeus for tracking growth metrics and then leveraging that data to achieve profitable growth.

After Kugonic, Itay Milstein of Huuuge Games gave us his insights on operational strategies for maximizing your game’s profit. In his experience, it all comes down to marketing. Make sure you have a robust, structured business plan surrounding:

  • UA
  • Growth
  • Retargeting
  • ASO
  • Brand dissemination

This includes both a creative marketing team as well as someone to specialize in data and analytics. This goes for games across all genres, and for games developed by a single team as well as games released by studios.

According to Milstein, conversion lag can be defined as the time between an ad click and the customer conversion event. This is a key trend to analyze, as well as the relationship between cost and in-app action. Otherwise, try sending different ads and notifications to users, experimenting with text, video, images, and html5 formatting to see what works best with different segments.

Day Two of GameCamp 2020: Art Versus Science

On the second day of GameCamp 2020, we attended a very interesting presentation by RJ Mical, Director of Games at Google. Mical explored the balance between art and data science when it comes to creating the best gaming experience possible for users. Obviously, it’s more important now than ever to provide users a top-notch aesthetic experience. However, an engaging storyline and cutting-edge graphics will only get you so far if your game isn’t financially sustainable. To maximize profitability, Mical said, it’s best to identify players who will use your game most. Then, tailor the game experience towards what they want. In particular, he explored pain points where users get stuck and stop playing the game.

He went on to talk about how Google intends to evolve games in coming years, and then use that philosophy on other technologies. Primarily, speech recognition technology is under way, with a refining of Android’s speech-to-text conversion tool. Machine learning will contribute to games testing and QA bots, player assistance, cheating detection, and reporting players who create a toxic environment for the community. Google are also developing tech to track where people’s eyes are looking towards, and a project to design games that learn and adapt to fit your gaming preferences in real time. He calls it “the Tamagotchi of the future.”

In-App Monetization

Ivan Kozyev from Crazy Panda then gave a presentation on in-app monetization, a crucial strategy for F2P games that are all the craze that falls under the umbrella category of LiveOps. He took a unique angle, however, and emphasized how to design monetization that’s personalized to your players. He outlined the key pieces of this model – including the bank, the price, bonuses or discounts to be applied, lifetime, cooldown, content, etc. – and how to go about balancing them.

When it comes to pop-up ads, it’s very important to use them carefully. They can be a key tool for boosting profits, but if you use them too often they will interrupt the game experience for users. As a tactic, they should be used sparingly and personalized towards the following segments of users:

  1. Converting non-payers into payers
  2. Establishing regular payment relationship
  3. Regular payers group
  4. Returning payers churning

Image Source: Crazy Panda

Image Source: Crazy Panda

Kozyev also stresses the importance of A-B testing, and the need for control and test groups. Advanced techniques include small versus big offers, with one key metric being the average revenue per paying user. Another is conversion of non-paying or sporadic users into high-value payers. Also, testing often fails, it’s important to remember that every game is different. Even failed tests provide data to improve your model.

There was so much going on and so many people to connect with, it was impossible to get to see everything. But from what we learned over the course of the conference, it looks like F2P gaming apps are here to stay. And a key driver in that business model is personalization – of monetization, of notifications, and of the gaming experience itself.

Overall, GameCamp 2020 was a hectic, exciting couple of days. We can’t wait to see what they have lined up for next year!

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