Tag: scoreloop (Page 1 of 4)

Israel Mobile Summit

How long have I been waiting? It must be a good 5 years since I have last touched down at Ben Gurion Airport. Alas, no more. Tomorrow evening, it will be time again, and how timely it is, too. The Israel Mobile Week is on, and there is tons of super-interesting stuff happening. MoMo Tel Aviv – one of the most active and well-run Mobile Monday chapters – is in full swing, the Israel Mobile Summit, Droidcon Tel Aviv, the Microsoft Ventures Demo Day of its 4th Israeli cohort plus a few parties here and there of course…

I will have the immense honour of delivering one of the opening keynotes at the Israel Mobile Summit. Specifically, I will be speaking on “Capturing Users” – isn’t it all important how you find them (and keep them!)? Without users, you (or rather your business) is nothing. I have had the pleasure (and challenge) to try and have a crack at this challenge a few times in my professional life, and I am hoping to be able to share some of my hard-learned experiences with the audience on Tuesday (10 June 2014). The event will be on at the YesPlanet Rishon, a snazzy new cinema complex.

There will be talks from the leaders in mobile today, including:

  • Facebook
  • Wooga
  • Intel
  • AVG
  • Waze
  • Paypal
  • Amobee
  • Amazon
  • Deemedya (yes, my very good friend Doron Kagan will talk about his 100m+ game downloads; I can only imagine how that must feel)
  • AppAnnie
  • SingTel
  • HasOffers
  • Grow VC
  • Twilio
  • DragonPlay
  • Hunter & Bard (you should not miss Shira’s talk; she is one of the wisest women in marketing today!)

and many, many more!!!

Join us if you can! It will be worthwhile. And if you don’t think so, I’ll buy you a drink! Promise!

Game Horizon 2012 / Slides

This week, I had the privilege to attend and speak at the truly fabulous Game Horizon conference in Newcastle (which is rather pretty as you will see in the picture). There was a plethora of inspiring and insightful talent that taught me a lot, including Torsten Reil (CEO, Natural Motion), Ian Livingstone (Life President Eidos and Founder of Games Workshop), David Helgason (CEO Unity), Mark Rein (Co-Founder Epic Games), Oscar Clark (Evangelist Papaya Mobile), Michael Pachter (Analyst Wedbush), Gareth Edmonson (CEO Thumbstar) and too many more to mention, all chaired by the formidable Charles Cecil (he of Broken Sword fame).

I gave a talk looking out on what we are trying to achieve for BlackBerry 10 on the gaming front, and here are the slides to it (some of which may only make sense if you actually attended…).

 

Conference season: Where I will be…

Yes, conference season is firmly upon us and, before I descend into the mayhem that tends to come with it, let me tell you where you can find me over the next couple of weeks.

This week sees London at the centre of a lot of things gaming: the Mobile Games Forum opens its doors on Wednesday in the Hilton Tower Bridge in SW1, which combines with the Social Games Forum. I will be speaking on a panel on “How to engage cross-promotion for social game discovery”.

There is also ICE in town but not the freezing variety but the big gaming (as in proper gaming for money and such) expo over at Earl’s Court, which rolls a variety of gaming-related tracks into this. I will be speaking on a panel on their mobile gaming track with the concise title “Incorporate Social and Mobile to create the Ultimate Modern Gaming Experience”.

Only a little later, on 7/8 February, we will be in Amsterdam for BlackBerry DevCon Europe. It is well worth coming to this to get a glimpse of the “new” BlackBerry and our plans there [disclosure: I work for BlackBerry]. Sign up here and hit me if you are a developer; I have a few discount codes left. I will lead a breakout session on Social Gaming with Scoreloop there.

Onwards to my old stomping grounds in Hamburg from there for the annual European edition of Casual Connect where I will deliver a talk on how BlackBerry will deliver on gaming (yes, you read that right!).

After that, there is a two week (conference) break before heading to Barcelona for the monster that is Mobile World Congress. I’ll be there all week!

Barely a weekend’s rest and the Game Developers Conference (or GDC) opens its doors at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Again, it’ll be a full week for me there.

I hope I will meet you at one of those. Sorry that Asia isn’t featuring in this tour de force this time but, hey, it’s still early in the year, huh? 😉

Image credit: http://gapingvoid.com

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The Power of Games / Slides

Today, I had the great pleasure to attend and speak at the rather wonderful “Games for Brands” conference in good old London town (held near the Tower of London with some lovely drinks at St. Catherine Docks; need I say more?). Great turn-out, great speakers, inspiring discussions and a lot of catching up with good friends and new contacts.

I have been asked to share my slides, which I herewith do. I hope you find them useful.

 

This week: NY Games Conference

This week, I will have the great pleasure to attend (and speak) at the NY Games Conference. If you are on the East Coast and into games, this is where you need to be. Join us! It’s worth it. There are speakers from:

  • Ubisoft
  • Samsung
  • Majesco Entertainment
  • Yesware
  • Sony Computer Entertainment
  • TAG Strategic (yes, Ted, the man himself!)
  • Freeverse
  • Greystripe
  • Badgeville
  • OnLive
  • Atari
  • EA Sports
  • OpenFeint
  • GameHouse/Real
  • Sulake (of Habbo Hotel fame)
  • Ogmento
  • CBS Interactive
  • Fremantle
  • Wedbush (Michael Pachter himself!)
  • Tapjoy
  • RockYou
  • Hi5 (yes, Alex St John will be there to delight)
  • NVidia
  • Wild Tangent
  • GameStop
  • MTV Networks
  • Google
  • and… me…

Add to this the formidable events for which Digital Media Wire are renowned, cool downtown NYC and nothing else going on that week (well, perhaps except F8), and you’re on for one hell of a gaming conference.

See you? See you!

Conference: Mobile 2.0 Europe – Open Ideas (Barcelona)

The ever industrious Rudy de Waele and his team are staging the next version of Mobile 2.0 Europe in beautiful Barclona on 16/17 June 2011. Last year’s version was awesome but this year they seem to have upped the ante significantly again. Staged in Telefonica’s mindblowing R&D centre Diagonal 00 (just look at the picture, for heaven’s sake!) and boasting a speaker line-up that should everybody get going!

It’s a developer conference, so none (or little) of the usual preaching but you will get more hands-on workshops on everything from app store marketing to HTML5 development. And all this in summery Barcelona! Go on, sign up here!

And if all that is not enough, here’s a selection of the people that will speak with you, work with you, talk to you (a full speaker list is here):

  • Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio (yes, he, the Mighty Eagle of the “Angry Birds” guys)
  • Daniel Gurrola, Orange
  • Sanyu Kirulata, Blackberry
  • Reimund Schmaid, Nuance
  • Carlos Domingo, Telefonica I+D
  • Jose Valles, BlueVia (Telefonica)
  • Lucas Allen Buick, Synthetic (they of “Hipstamatic” fame)
  • Matthias Sala, Gbanga
  • Andy Goodman, Fjord
  • Caroline Drucker, Soundcloud
  • Vincent Hoogsteder, Distimo
  • Andreas Constantinou, Vision Mobile
  • Tom Hume, Future Platforms
  • John Roberts, Quostodian
  • Yes, and yours truly will also be there 🙂

See you in the sun very soon! 🙂

 

Mobile Games Publishing in 2011

I have been blogging way too little recently, so here’s – finally – a bigger one again.

What is a Publisher?

I have recently been asked more and more what the role of a publisher in mobile gaming is today. I mean, heck, there are now even websites proclaiming the (traditional) publishers’ death. On the other hand, venerable old and ruthless new ones are on a spending spree acquiring – seemingly – studios and smaller publishers by the dozen: In the past year or so, EA gobbled up Playfish, Chillingo and Firemint (and probably a few more I don’t know of). Zynga, even hungrier, absorbed XPD Media, Challenge Games, Conduit Labs, Dextrose, Bonfire Studios, Newtoy, Area/Code and Floodgate Entertainment. So what is right?

According to Wikipedia, a videogame publisher is (was?) someone who

publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a […] developer. […] They usually finance the development […]. The large video game publishers also distribute the games they publish, while some smaller publishers instead hire distribution companies (or larger video game publishers) to distribute the games they publish.

Other functions usually performed by the publisher include deciding on and paying for any license that a game may utilize; paying for localization; layout, printing and possibly writing of the user manual; and the creation of graphic design elements such as the box design.

Pretty old-school stuff, you say? Erm, yes. Broken down from its beautifully naive pseudo-scientific language, we arrive at the following:

  1. Publishers pay for development (i.e. absorb the development risk). This could also be classed as project finance.
  2. Publishers pay for licenses, another case of project finance – unless of course they pretty much own (legally or, through long-term licensing relationships, factually) certain IP.
  3. Publishers provide a bit of gloss and lots of marketing around a title to help it on the way.
  4. Publishers – sometimes – distribute.

Is the Same in the Digital Realm?

Now, the Wikipedia definition pretty much focuses on traditional console and PC publishing, it seems (box art anyone?). And this is where the new world sharply departs. No box art, no Walmart or GameStop deals are required if digital distribution is in place. How difficult can it be then for the more modern, more evolved (?) world of digitally distributed and, perhaps (but only perhaps) even more specifically for mobile games?

Nos. 1 and 2 above are pretty much arbitrary parts of the puzzle: you can get money from many places (or not of course) but it is a financing game, and video games could be called a specific (because intrinsically hit-driven) asset class. That is to say, these are not unique attributes.

No. 3 is a combination of money, know-how, experience and network. The more complex the landscape the higher the value of a specialist in the field.

No. 4 is, well, arguably a much easier game when you can feed your distribution channels from your own desk – via the Internet. However, again, the more channels you need to serve, the more complex the landscape, the higher the value of someone "who knows".

Nos. 3 and 4 are – arguably – what made Chillingo (based in the same honest North-West English town as I am) what it is (or, prior to its acquisition by EA, was): Chillingo seems to have had a knack of identifying good or at least decent games and promote them effectively across digital channels. Alas, their biggest hit, Rovio’s Angry Birds had not much good to say about them in terms of support. And indeed, if one looks at what Rovio did with its hit title outside of the Chillingo relationship, one can argue about the value add it had received from its publisher. But then again, Angry Birds seems to have been one of a kind, and there are other titles Chillingo brought to reasonable success that may not have had the same success – be it for lack of a Mighty Eagle such as the fearless and tireless Peter Vesterbacka or otherwise.

Changed Metrics

Chillingo, alas, is not where it’s at, I think. The war is being fought over those (in)famous MAUs – or monthly active users. You see, if you can command those hundreds of millions and parade your own wares by them, the likelihood of your next game becoming a success rises: Digital connectivity solves the dilemma of publishing of old, and that was to attract the attention of the gamer (your customer!) for your next release.

In a box-product world, you had to shout again, and very loudly, in order to have your customer part with his hard-earnd monies for the benefit of your title rather than your competitors’. This is – arguably – why EA Sports sponsors UK football (scil. soccer) broadcasts: "please, God, let people not defect to Konami’s PES from my very own EA FIFA".

Now, Zynga laughs all the way to the bank on this: if you played FarmVille, you will not have come around of realizing that CityVille was out. And you would also get additional points if you also played Zynga Poker. The result? Well, check the top-10 games charts for Facebook games for yourself. Suffice to say that Zynga is – according to the second market – worth more than Electronic Arts… Why is that? Eyeballs, addressable users, dollars spent per acquired user. That the business model is a little different for console games than it is online, doesn’t really matter for the argument here: you can drastically reduce the user acquisition costs if you play it smartly, so no need to take in $39.99 per game in order to break even. $1 or $5 will be just fine, thank you very much.

The above is also the reason for the spending spree of the publishers, I would suggest: if you can buy eyeballs and get a studio with proven skills (just check out either of Newtoy or Firemint on the mobile end), and you can combine it with a mechanism to attract people to future releases, there is a much better chance you can recoup your investment on that future release (effectively de-risking nos. 1 and 2 from the above list).

And now for Mobile!?

Zynga, EA’s Playfish and Crowdstar have shown that you can tweak the fortunes your way if you smartly combine game releases, updates and promotions to work with each other. But how is it for mobile? Backflip Studios, which rose to fame with a simple but well-executed game ("Paper Toss"), claimed to have had racked up more than 2m daily active users and 50m total downloads, mostly driven through promotion of its own titles inside, well, its own titles. Did it have a publisher? No. Does it have a very smart CEO who solved nos. 1 and 2 above and knows how to play no. 3 itself? Yes. So what about no. 4, distribution? Well, on iOS, that is a non-issue: one distribution channel to bind them all. However, on Android, it still falls short of a copycat, "Toss It", who were there earlier, are as ingenious and still rule. And elsewhere? Not much.

But we don’t have to rely on one case alone, and one by a small – though incredibly smart – studio no less. Look at Zynga’s performance on mobile. It is mediocre at best. EA though? Not so bad. What do they do? Well, apply the good old publishing principles learned in the olden world.

And this is where the specific complexities of mobile come into play: mobile is fiendishly complex. On the OS side, there is iOS, Android (in an increasing number of iterations), Windows Phone 7 (with some added spice since the announcement of their Nokia partnership), Blackberry, Samsung’s bada, and then maybe BREW, perhaps still a little bit of Symbian and J2ME. But then there are also the still mighty gatekeepers, the mobile operators. And then you will see that users tend to want to have it their specific way, ideally localized. The plethora of channels thus created makes it tough on a developer to maneuver its way through…

There are tools that can aid progress (and, yes, our very own Scoreloop provides some of them) but it is important to recognize the complexity of it all. Reaching users and convincing them with compelling offers is key to success in any world. It is important to bear that in mind in mobile, too. And if you think you cannot walk it on your own, a publisher might just be the right partner for you.

Changed Weighting

Since 1. and 2. above might not be such a big thing anymore (mobile titles can be developed for less – and, yes, I know this does not necessarily apply to the likes of "Galaxy on Fire" or "Real Racing") and 3. might be manageable but 4. might (not: always is) still be a key reason to part with some share in order to reach the user, convince the user, be able to bill the user.

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