Must Watch Lectures from Casual Connect, July 2012

“No, Mom. Casual Connect is not a conference for swingers.”

Those in the industry are likely familiar but to clarify (for Mom), Casual Connect is one of the leading conferences in the mobile, social, and casual gaming space. This distinction is especially important in the context of the title of this post.

I was fortunate to attend this year’s festivities with others from the PlayHaven team, but between the partying and networking, I only caught a few of the 130+ lectures. Thankfully, through the power of the internets, Casual Connect allowed me to catch up on most of what I missed.

Below I’ve broken down the top must watch lectures from the conference for those interested in learning more about the mobile gaming industry and understanding how to create a successful game.

Designing Core Loops
Suleman Ali, Co-Founder and CEO, TinyCo

Suleman provides an overview on free-to-play game design, the importance of nailing the core loop, and insight into TinyCo’s design process.

Key takeaway: Half of in-app purchase (IAP) revenue from TinyCo’s titles come from instant finishes.


1 Million Downloads in a Month – How Indies Can Make It Happen
Simon Newstead, CEO, Frenzoo

As an indie dev, how do you compete in a crowded, competitive mobile market? Simon shares his company’s strategy for breaking into the mobile gaming industry with their first title, Style Me Girl.

Key takeaway: Don’t overlook the power of organic word-of-mouth. Polish and high-end graphics encourage players to show their friends in the real-world.

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A Holistic Approach to A/B Testing
Jesse Hull, Executive Director of Technology, Social Games, GSN Digital

A/B testing (and validation of ones ideas or assumptions in general) is critically for nearly every successful free-to-play game. Jesse shares his philosophies on creating an experimental company culture and multivariate testing process.

Key takeaway: “We target for 80% of our ideas to fail.” If more ideas are succeeding, then you’re not trying big enough ideas or you’re not really testing.

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Your First F2P Game: Where You Will Go Wrong
David Edery, Co-founder, Spry Fox

David reviews common mistakes mobile game developers often make when designing free-to-play games.

Key takeaway: Non-consumable sources of revenue require constant development work and don’t scale as easily as consumable items.

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Monetization Trends for Mobile Games
Aaron Rubenson, Director, Amazon Appstore for Android

Many of us in the mobile gaming space have our eyes on Amazon as its developer and player adoption grows. Aaron shares fascinating data that reveal interesting behavioral trends of its platform’s player base.

Key takeaway: Almost half of repeat purchases happen within the first hour of the previous purchase. Additionally, players often download apps and purchase content around the same time of day as revealed by the cyclical spikes of revenue over time.

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Newbie to Big Spender: Understanding the Player Lifecycle
Emily Greer, COO, Kongregate

Emily provides several stats on player spending and engagement behavior from their collection of over 60,000 games.

Key takeaway: Generally, players of multiplayer games play more games sessions before they make their first purchase than single players games.

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From Social to Mobile: The Game has Changed but So Can You
Mike Sego, CEO, Gaia Interactive

The migration from social gaming (primarily Facebook) continues as developers focus on mobile; however, what worked on the web doesn’t always translate. Mike describes the differences between the two platforms and Gaia Interactive’s expansion into the booming mobile space.

Key takeaway: Outliers always exist but in general Facebook games have a much longer lifespan than mobile games (often 2+ years vs. only 4 months, respectively). Mobile game developers need to recognize this and test big concepts that can be developed and validated quickly or focus more heavily on retention to extend the game’s shelf life.

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Running F2P Mobile Games As A Service
Matthew Davie, CEO, Breaktime Studios

Unlike traditional big box titles, free-to-play games require ongoing support, updates, and optimization. Matthew provides a peak into Breaktime Studio’s data-driven process for building a successful, long-lasting game.

Key takeaway: Analyzing KPI’s (ARPU, DAU/MAU, etc.) is of course important but it doesn’t provide the full picture if not segmented by geography, seasonality, day of the week, and source of traffic to help identify issues and valuable sources of user acquisition (UA).

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App Store Economics
Bertrand Schmitt, CEO, App Annie

Bertrand provides a macro perspective on the health and evolution of the Apple App Store’s revenue and geographic growth.

Key takeaway: Japan generates nearly 3x revenue per download than the U.S. and 27x that of China for app purchases and IAP’s.

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Don’t Stop Polishing: The Need to Stand Out in Mobile/Social
Nick Bhardwaj, VP of Monetization, NaturalMotion

Nick dives into Natural Motion’s free-to-play design process, touching on strategies for user acquisition, retention, and monetization.

Key takeaway: Every great core loop in a free-to-play game can be boiled down to a basic formula – “do a thing, get a thing, expand your things, repeat.”

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The Importance of the Future: The Case for Predictive Analytics
Mark Robinson, COO, GamesAnalytics and Lloyd Melnick, CEO, FiveOneNine Games

All serious mobile game developers have an analytics dashboard to measure player behavior and the health of ones game but this only provides a historical picture of what happened in the past. What if you could predict the future? Mark and Lloyd give a high-level overview of predictive analytics with examples of how they foresee the future.

Key takeaway: Predict player churn by measuring the momentum of a player’s behavior. Identify players who’s sessions decrease over time and focus on engagement before they leave for good.

Download slides (Mark Robinson’s slides and Lloyd Melnick’s slides)


Email Marketing Tactics to Drive Player Engagement and Retention
Damian Borichevsky, Vice President, Professional Services, PulsePoint and Wendy Yu, Sr. Director of Marketing, Kabam

Email marketing is as old as the internet yet still a valuable tool for communicating with ones players. This channel often used in social games yet few mobile game developers use it to re-engage players, announce new game updates, offer promotional discounts, or cross-promote new titles as Damian and Wendy exemplify.

Key takeaway: Kabam players that receive email announcements have a 112% increase in 7-day ARPU and 6.2% increase in 7-day retention.

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Looking for more? The full rundown of video lectures are available here.

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