Largely known for social casino games like World Series of Poker, Slotomania, and Bingo Blitz, Playtika is one of the most prolific and successful mobile gaming companies operating today. Having recently acquired top developers like Jelly Button and Wooga, it’s poised to succeed in all corners of the app store.
Tapjoy recently met with World Series of Poker marketing director Jeet Niyogi to discuss the trends that brought Playtika to its unique position in the industry.
What We Learned:
- Brand, UA, and Live Ops Keep Growth Sustainable – Mobile players will happily return to an engaging game they’ve lapsed from if you give them reasons to do so.
- New Content Is Key To Mobile Success – Regardless of genre, a steady stream of new and relevant content makes apps successful in the long term.
- Marketing Data Can Help Drive Strong Creative – High-quality creatives are not a guarantee for success, but the right data points make them more reliable.
Thanks so much for chatting with us! Can you tell us about Playtika and your role there?
Playtika is one of the leading mobile gaming publishers, which started its journey in the social casino space but has now established games across various genres of the gaming space. It has acquired a wide range of studios, most recently Wooga (maker of June’s Journey, Pearl’s Peril), and prior to that Jelly Button (Pirate Kings, Board Kings). Right now we’re exploring opportunities and investing in the entire casual gaming market space.
Playtika has grown exponentially over the last 4-5 years. Founded in 2010, the company was among the first to offer free-to-play social games on social networks and, shortly after, on mobile platforms. We have over 27 million monthly active users. Five of our games are pretty regularly in the top 100 grossing apps on Google Play and the App Store.
At Playtika, I manage the marketing for World Series Poker, which is the #1 poker app and is quite consistently among the top 30 grossing games in the App Store and Google Play store. My team handles user acquisition, re-engagement, app store optimization, industry intelligence, product market planning, and creative marketing. It’s quite busy!
Mobile gaming has seen a number of major new genres arrive on the scene, including battle royale and hyper-casual. Has this impacted the social casino space?
I would not say that there has been a huge direct impact but whenever the industry is disrupted the pressures are felt in the shared ecosystem. For example, getting new players or retargeting can become more expensive… It starts with targeting the relevant people, and making those hard decisions on where to put money and when without taking your eye off of profitability. So, yes there might be a hiccup when something like Fortnite or Pokemon Go comes out, but the quality of your game and data-driven decisions can help create a sustainable niche with a decent active user base.
Let’s use WSOP, our poker game, as an example. Not only do we work hard to give our players an authentic poker experience, but we also go over and beyond with creating innovative special events and live operations. We developed new metagames such as Poker Recall, which can be best described as a combination of memory game, poker hands understanding, and some luck. No one else has done that, and our players like it a lot. Same with Texas Roulette, where you’ll either fold or go all-in, a new game mode. Players have fun with it.
We try to bring in the right people with our continuous campaign optimization and predictive modeling, but also give players new reasons to come back day after day, rewarding their progression and offering new social experiences.
You’ve discussed the concept of “sustainable growth” in the past. Can you give us examples of what that looks like compared to other mobile app categories? Is there somewhere specific you can see (or don’t see) sustainable growth occurring in the mobile space?
Gaming is more mature in the mobile app space. And within gaming we are in the mid-level maturity, which makes it harder for us to acquire new users at decent costs every passing day. The costs as we know are going only in one direction. So, given this situation you have to orchestrate actions and make decisions that may not look the greatest in the short-term but would pay off in the long term. From building the right team to analyzing data, investing in predictive analysis, testing new formats and networks, and taking actions that justify and balance out short-term and long term profitability.
My team looks at various things such as finding that right balance between bringing players with high ROAS and decent stickiness. Then we have to make decisions about how much to split between user acquisition and retargeting, which is very critical. I have a theory around the split which is somewhat correlated to the lifecycle of a game.
One consideration is that unlike the days of marketing yore, we have a lot more relevant and usable data. You can track the users coming in, analyze what they have done in the game, measure precise returns over the cost, measure engagement with your app, and apply what you’ve learned to improve how you spend your next dollar within a very short time span. The step beyond that is prediction, which a lot of big companies including us are headed towards. That means using data analysis, user behavior analysis, and artificial intelligence to better understand how and where you can create profitable opportunities.
Even with all the information we have on what makes for good creative, there’s no guarantee it will engage users once you throw it up on, say, Facebook. Even with all the constraints, if the analysis is directional, one can test things easily these days. As I say, tests can be quite disheartening as nine out of 15 fail. But sometimes those couple conclusives tests can make a significant difference in moving that proverbial needle.
Playtika just opened a new $6 million R&D studio in Bucharest. Can you tell us anything about projects that currently underway there, and how they might impact your work?
As I was mentioning before, we are continuously looking at producing quality content and reducing the time to market for all these new features and events in our game. One very important area is quality assurance. This new centre is part of a partnership with services company Qualitest, which will help establish the office and provide QA and software testing for Playtika’s mobile games.
There are a lot of projects underway to meet our objective of becoming one of the top gaming companies in the world. There are truly many different areas from tackling new genres, driving new features in the existing games, faster turnaround times, better service, investing in new ideas and content, so on and so forth. We are putting a lot of effort into this, and growing in every possible way.
Tapjoy would like to thank Jeet Niyogi for taking the time to join us. If you’d like to brush up on more mobile fundamentals, check out “What Is In-App Marketing?” for a deep dive into strategies and tips on developing your own unique in-app campaigns.