Presented by Xsolla
App stores and distribution platforms are the usual path to launch games — but there are other valuable ways to reach players. Don’t miss this VB On Demand event to learn what to expect with monetizing outside of app stores, how to grow your game, and more.
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Changes in app store and distribution platform policies have made it harder for new games to gain traction, permanently changing the competitive landscape for developers of every size. These platforms have always limited control of the user experience and charged hefty fees that eat directly into the bottom line and inhibit growth. But now privacy policies, such as Apple’s IDFA, as well as user expectations are upping the ante, says Tugay Alyıldız, co-founding CEO at Veloxia Technology — and profits are dropping.
“On the revenue side, users want to see much higher quality games than ever before and are rather reluctant to pay much as there are better and more substitutes than before,” Alyıldız says. “On the cost side, those recent changes in regulation, have increased unit customer acquisition cost so much that creating profitable performance marketing campaigns has become harder than ever.”
There are even some rumblings that new acquisitions will follow these shifts in the market, as some game giants are now favoring companies with much less dependency on ad monetization, he adds.
How mobile games can push against the tide
Mobile games such as Veloxia’s Embershard face three categories of challenges when they’re trying to catch the attention of users in this market, Alyıldız says: innovation, meeting expectations, and conforming to the harmony of the art direction and complexity. They call these “the secret sauce of successful mobile games.”
But when it comes to tackling specific challenges, the most important strategy is to study the market and user behavior in order to understand pain points, what you should put your focus on and where you should innovate. Optimizing both the live ops and user acquisition (UA) sides is also key. Because UA is undergoing such significant change, it’s made keeping the game updated and interesting so much more important.
“While people are still figuring out how to run user acquisition campaigns at scale, it’s a good time to emphasize the games we have and try to make sure we serve the users we already have in the game much better than ever before,” he says. “This is one of the reasons why companies with high monthly or daily active users have still done slightly better than the average market expectations when it comes to valuations and acquisitions. The data and the active users in games have become much more valuable than ever.”
He also recommends taking a hard look at what your company produces. For instance, considering a genre shift. It’s a difficult move for a company, because it means production pipelines change, new positions need to open up, and structural know-how needs to be added — but there’s a significant advantage shift in different genres, especially a shift to focus on genres where the monetization is more focused on premium than on ads. For example, the hypercasual market has been flat, and is probably going into decline Alyıldız says.
Breaking free of the app store
Outside of the traditional app stores, user behavior significantly differs when it comes to retention and monetization, Alyıldız says, along with less regulation and more flexibility.
Conventional marketing techniques to drive people to download the game won’t work the same way, which will have an impact on scale — but you should see better rates of monetization, because there’s already some user dedication, since they’ve found the game through a less common channel.
And beyond the app store, community becomes key — and independent platforms are great places to build those communities and help them thrive, as well as to capture significant, useful data, both in the community and through your game. Organic users will be your biggest champions, and spread your message even beyond the new platforms you’re leveraging.
To learn more about the strategies that developers of every size are using to escape the control of the app stores, what to expect when you start to shift your focus to new monetization methods and more, don’t miss this VB Live event!
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- How to improve your UA and discoverability
- How to create personalized experiences that improve engagement
- Best practices for your mobile game commerce growth
- How other mobile game developers and publishers increase their revenue
- Tugay Alyıldız, Co-founding CEO, Veloxia Technology
- Ilya Utemov, COO, ZiMAD
- Miikka Luotio, Regional Director of Europe, Xsolla
- Mike Minotti, Managing Editor, GamesBeat (moderator)