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  Game Monetization - Insights from 2 games veterans and monetization experts
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06/30/2020
 


[This unedited press release is made available courtesy of Gamasutra and its partnership with notable game PR-related resource GamesPress.]

New York, NY. June 30, 2020. There are a lot of reads on game monetization and equally as many myths touted by game developers and publishers. What successful monetization ultimately comes down to is creating the extra value that enhances the player experience. Adding that consistent level of value will monetize your player-base beyond your expectations.

Jim Veevaert (Veevaert) knows a little about game monetization. For his entire career, Jim has been in the video games industry and launched some of the biggest franchises. Jim is probably one of the most successful video games executives you have most likely not heard of.

Veevaert started his career in the games industry as a product manager in the early 90's at Interplay Productions working with groundbreaking teams and franchises including BlackThorne from Blizzard Entertainment, Shattered Steel from BioWare, and Descent from Parallax Software. He has worked with the Valve team on publishing the Half Life, Counterstrike and Team Fortress franchises. His next move took him to Microsoft for eight years, where he oversaw the launch of several of Xbox 360's biggest franchises. He executive produced the highly successful Halo 3 with Bungie.

If that wasn’t enough, he went on to establish and be the General Manager of Zynga’s Seattle studio – bringing to market a series of their most profitable games. Before relocating to London in 2017, he served as IGT's Vice President of Games and Product Development (DoubleDown Casino and Wheel of Fortune) where he was responsible for driving revenues from $65 million to over $300 million in less than 2 years. Today, Jim acts as an advisor for the most innovative game monetization platform – Scuti, here he is joined by the COO – Jamy Nigri.

Jamy has been privileged to work with some of the most noteworthy and pioneering free-to-play game Publishers globally. World of Tanks publisher Wargaming and RuneScape publisher Jagex have honed Jamy’s emphasis on ‘Creating Player Happiness.’ Both companies engage their players in a games-as-a-service model where the relationship with the player can span decades. Free-to-play games earn the trust of the player over and over every day, as the player community is sacred to these publishers. It is through these dual lenses of Player Happiness and Player Experience that Jamy views every decision he makes.

So, let’s get Jim and Jamy’s insights into modern-day game monetization.

Monetization

There are many ways that game makers are using technologies and solutions to monetize every player of their game. Even premium game makers, who offer their consumers ‘pay to play’ games should be thinking about monetizing beyond the initial purchase, especially against any game which is offering countless hours and months of play. But unfortunately, many game makers are caught up in their own mindsets with ‘mythic thinking’ about their players and their ability to monetize. Understanding consumer behavior is critical and developing hypotheses based on insights is key to the success of every game maker.

The first rule of consumer behavior is that their behavior is very difficult to change. This is the reason why most free-to-play mobile game teams have established a play-only mindset among 95% of their players, who simply won’t pay for their game experience.

Question: How can free-to-play game makers successfully monetize their games, beyond the industry standard of 5% paying players?

Jim & Jamy: We’ve been monetizing mobile free to play games for over a decade. What we have learned is that it all boils down to the player experience. There are multitude of monetization platforms out there and clearly, features and gameplay mechanics which benefit the player and enhances their gameplay experience gets our attention every time. There are also subtle components which can influence the tempo of the game to get players to spend more, but that is a ‘secret sauce’ we will have to keep to ourselves for now. There are fragmented offers and solutions that any developer can look to integrate as a solution – and all have their merits and disadvantages. For us, the biggest concern is any solution which takes the player out of the game or which creates friction to force a click-through. Even being forced to watch an ad is not a good experience – think about it – even YouTube lets you tune out after a few seconds. Again – it’s all in the execution and the enhancement of the player experience.

It’s one of the reasons we’re excited about Scuti. Why? Scuti is the only platform which actually was designed by game makers to enhance the player experience and lets players earn rewards as they shop. Yes – shop. You frown and you tell yourself – “but I don’t want my players shopping”. Really? Everyone shops online, but it’s often a matter of where they shop, and currently that’s outside of any game. When Veevaert heard about the idea of a game-related virtual store, he was intrigued. After all, what is a virtual store? It’s shopping! Scuti has created a platform and experience, which, from what he’s seen in research, has a 90% player approval rate. We don’t see how any game maker can have any issue if a player has a choice to do something or not. Why would we ever select to take that choice away? And if they shop, they receive rewards which will benefit their gameplay – so it’s another means to keep their existing shopping habits close to the game.

Here’s the proof of concept – this format is being used now on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Game makers can earn upwards of $0.30 ARPDU by tapping into something players do every day and which has made Amazon the biggest company in the world…shopping. Now, they can play, shop and get rewarded through your game…and they will be grateful for it. Rewards also means player retention and great LTV of each and every player. Our insights are that it’s far easier to monetize a player by offering them something they already do – shop – rather than try to change the habits of a player who may NEVER buy virtual goods or make in-app purchases.

Question: I use advertising to monetize my game – how can I improve my revenues from the ad solution I already have?

Jim & Jamy: That’s what the folks at Scuti have been working on. Unless you have hundreds of millions of players, the reality is that your CPMs or CPCs or whatever advertising model you use, will be low. However, by integrating a platform like Scuti, you can double or even triple your existing ad revenues. The brands you are promoting are engaged in your platform because they want to SELL their products. Their sales funnel is under pressure, and they only covert a miniscule percent of players into actual buyers. Now they can advertise and sell direct. In comparison, game companies can make double or triple the amount they would have made on ad revenues alone, and also take a percentage of every sale – similar to Amazon. Players receive rewards and game companies will retain their users more and will increase their monetization percentage.

Question: What about Premium Mobile and PC games?

Jim & Jamy: It doesn’t matter if you have a player paying $3 or $49 for a game – once they have paid, it’s very difficult to justify having them paying more for your game. That could actually cause attrition, unless it’s well executed.

If a game uses a solution like Scuti, they are not selling them anything which is game-related. In fact, you are offering your players a new experience and of course the rewards. Those players are buying from Amazon anyway – and now you have their attention – so why not offer them something which brings them great deals that they want and provide rewards to expand their gameplay experience. Imagine if those rewards could be traded for in-game credits. Now you are monetizing in-game without the need to change the user’s behavior.

ABOUT SCUTI

Scuti is the world’s first in-game marketplace for brands to promote and sell direct to game players, who are rewarded for every purchase. Scuti‘s personalized, AI-driven marketplace gamifies shopping through product curation and an extensive rewards system.

Scuti was formed by leading video game and marketing/media experts and is the brainchild of Nicholas Longano - who was president of in-game advertising network, Massive Incorporated which sold to Microsoft in 2006.