I've spent the last three days in Kyiv, Ukraine attending Casual Connect Kyiv 2012. Besides presenting on controls in touchscreen games, I met a lot of great people from the Ukrainian and Russian game development communities, as well as thought leaders in the industry. Here are a few interesting points, quotes and trends from the conference:
The big trend:
- • You cannot fight the trend towards free-to-play games, it's taking over the market, segment by segment.
- • Most big companies are spending their money on paid user acquisition/CPI, this leaves a gap for marketing stunts to acquire users at low or no-cost, look for strategic marketing partnerships
- • Answer tweets/facebook messages in the persona of your game characters (e.g. the Bad Piggies reply to people on Rovio's social media accounts)
- • It's way easier to get to top 25 in smaller territories first, then target the US later.
- • Have your programmers create tools that enable game designers to modify the game without programmer intervention - e.g. let the game designer modify parameters in an excel file which is read by the game.
- • Programmers naturally write defensive code while game designers want to stretch the boundaries. This conflict is a good thing.
- • Try to build a game engine that you can reuse in multiple games, which will get better and better over time.
- • Never rewrite a game from scratch, your "crappy old code" actually contains a lot of institutional memory and smart bug fixes.
- • The development of a modern mobile game is never finished.
- • Unity 4 supports export to Flash Player, using Stage3D; so you don't need the Unity Web Player. Also has dynamic fonts on mobile, a new animation system, and lots of other cool stuff!
On game reviews:
- • Try to find out what kind of games specific game reviewers like before sending review requests to then
- • In iOS6, search ranking is affected by third-party reviews
- • A short video showing the gameplay/functionality of your app is essential
On Cross promotion:
- • Cross promotion is the cheapest way to market your apps & CTRs are very high: use all your advertising space: like splash screens, loading screens, notifications.
- • Having tons of connected games makes a big and powerful business; the closer the match the better cross promo works
- • Consider providing incentives for people to watch ads (eg provide virtual currency for watching a video ad unit)
- • Price segmentation: always offer low and high priced versions of items to maximize revenue
- • Provide new items or levels on a daily schedule (for example, unlock one new level a day for a whole month)... keeps people coming back
- • You must segment your users, treat paying and non paying users differently. Paying users should get free bonuses to encourage more purchases. Non-paying users should get more ads.
- • After 30 days, if someone didn't spend money in your game, 95% chance they will never buy anything in lifetime of game
- • Retail marketing budgets are much larger than e-commerce budgets, and can be accessed with the right partnerships
- • Levels are a retention strategy. Don't sell them, give them away and sell ancillary items (hints, upgrades)
- • Create "moments of absolute joy" which can be shared
- • Look for points in the game where engagement drops off and offer bonuses at those points
- • Work on the "core compulsion loops" of your games, it's what keeps players coming back