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Outplay: ‘Your ability to succeed in games-as-a-service will be impaired if you do not understand your player’

Luis De La Camara has over ten years’ experience in the games industry and is the VP of global marketing for the UK’s largest independent mobile game developer, Outplay Entertainment. He previously was responsible for Candy Crush Saga’s product marketing at King.

Games-as-a-service is the dominating force behind the current success of mobile and PC gaming, and is also a trend in console thanks to triple-A franchises like Call of Duty, GTA, Red Dead, Battlefield and Fortnite. It was not long ago that everyone was fixated on their Metacritic score and building enough hype to get as many Day One sales as possible. However, there is now a new obsession: the player’s experience.

Whether your model is free-to-play, subscriptions or an extension of a premium product – every strategic decision should be focused on how to offer additional value to players. Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans are well into their sixth year, maintaining a strong foothold at the top of the charts, and World of Warcraft recently reached 100m registered players.

Back in my console days, publishing was often in a different location than development, but in mobile I have had the fortune to manage marketing teams that are fully embedded in games studios, allowing for streamlined collaboration across marketing and development. The key to games-as-a-service is alignment across all teams on one or two north star metrics, and then building and improving optimal journeys for players – from discovery, to install, on-boarding, engagement, conversion and hopefully evangelism.

Engagement and stickiness must start off with a fun, intuitive gameplay mechanic which hooks players from the start, which is then supported by a robust and dynamic meta. Extending engagement and reducing churn then depends on the tools in your toolbox, as well as the ability to run solid AB tests, and being able to interpret data about your specific player cohorts’ behaviour.

At Outplay, we use a mix of live ops, CRM communication, gifting, sales and new content to target players both broadly and through hyper-targeted flows, offering enhanced experiences to sustainably increase session length, frequency and spend. In games with a strong social component, such as Gameloft’s Asphalt series or Eight Pixels Square’s Sniper Strike, increasing engagement has an aggregate effect, as players go on to build up their clans, compete more in PvP or events, and even share content online.

Even with all these tools, your ability to succeed in games-as-a-service will be impaired if you do not understand your player, putting their motivations, UX and communication front and centre. You may have a generous offer, but if they don’t easily understand the value proposition, it’s highly likely that it will fail. If you’re constantly spamming players with pop ups and players get accustomed to swatting them away, how will you get them to take part in the next big event? From time to time, audit your UX flows, as huge wins can come from some of the most simple and obvious changes. After all, games-as-a-service
is not a change in business model, it’s a change in mindset.

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