Welcome to Campfire Stories, where we spotlight our Appi Campers and share their stories in their own words. We invite you to get to know and learn from other app marketing pros, app marketing experts and your camp friends, - as we continue to grow, and learn together as a community.
Enric Pedró Campfire Story
As the VP of Growth at Tilting Point, Enric Pedró provides game developers with the tools and knowledge to expand their audience globally. He has over fifteen years of experience in digital advertising, mobile gaming and business development. Enric has been fortunate enough to work and live in five different cities – Barcelona, London, New York, Los Angeles and Madrid. He enjoys playing games and keeping up with the latest blockchain developments, as well as experimenting with tools and platforms such as Shopify, Jarvee, Android Studio, Unity and Swift for a variety of pet projects.
The Beginning of Mobile Gaming
Back when apps were still in the very early stages and smartphones were nothing close to what they are like today, I was beginning my career in mobile. As an avid gamer I was — naturally — interested in mobile gaming and had the privilege of seeing the evolution of technology in this space. In 2008, the first mobile app store was introduced by Apple with 500 apps of varying verticals. This spurred the development of all different kinds of apps, many of them games. Within the first three days of the app store’s launch, there were 10 million downloads of apps with 75% of those apps being free. Before then, people had been skeptical about free-to-play games – but I saw it as an opportunity to grow loyal and recurring users.
From working on cutting-edge retention campaigns in London, to having ten times the budget I was used to working with when based in the United States, I have seen the many changes of mobile gaming and am excited about what the future holds.
Social Gaming versus Casual Gaming
I’ve worked on both social casino and casual games and they have very different components – in the way you target users, retention rates and legality. To give some background, social casino games are typically based on a free-to-play model. Users are provided free credits that are reloaded periodically for the player to use. Social casino games include bingo, poker, solitaire, and slots. According to Statista, in-app purchase revenue in the segment is projected to reach $6.79 B in 2022. Casual games are games that are designed for everyone and have simple rules, shorter sessions, and a low barrier to entry. Casual games employ a number of monetization strategies, however they tend to rely on a free-to-play model that monetizes through in-app purchases and in-game ads.
One main difference between these two gaming verticals is that with social gaming, you’re focusing more on the bigger whales who spend a lot more than regular users. Social casino big whales spend significantly more than the typical large spenders in casual games. The trick is that you can’t be scared to invest heavily in order to catch these “big whales” – down the line trust that you will recoup the investment.
Another interesting difference is that the retention rates are extremely high compared to other casual games. The Day 1 to Day 7 retention rates are significantly higher, which means that players are keen to keep playing the game. This is most likely because social casino games really do try to replicate what it’s like to be at a casino, playing the same games.On some instances, social features of these games also add to high retention rates as users want to play against and beat their friends.
Additionally, because there are so many restrictions in the United States on where in-person gambling is legal vs not, there are opportunities to target users in those areas who may wish to get that casino experience but cannot travel to a state where that is legal. If gambling was legal in more states within the US, the draw to social casino games could change, potentially turning users more towards casual gaming. When people have access to in person betting, they may not be as intrigued by the allure of a social casino game.
Mobile Gaming User Trends
Users for both social casino and casual games tend to vary drastically. For example, we had a lot of women ages 30-40 playing who may have been moms or had families and would play social casino games in order to escape reality for a little while. Many people want to use these games as a way to briefly mentally “check out”. Getting users to that place where they just want to keep playing the game is amazing for retention because some users could play each day for over 3 hours as their form of daily escape. This is why retention and engagement can be so high for gaming.
In the pandemic, we saw a huge surge in users downloading and playing mobile games. During the stay at home mandates, we saw that for the same amount of marketing spend we put into a campaign pre-pandemic, we would get about 30-40% more revenue. It was really a “golden time” in gaming since there were so many people in need of entertainment and distraction from what was going on in the rest of the world. This time period also helped with visibility of the mobile gaming space. Even people who might not have been as inclined to download games on their mobile devices started branching out and trying a few during lockdown.
However, I believe it was Sensor Tower that did a report on the spend by sectors and Q1 of this year was the first time since the pandemic that gaming growth had declined. Before that, we were seeing growth each quarter in not only downloads but engagement and retention. Even with the decline in growth, we are still seeing that users have continued to play games consistently on their phones.
Looking Forward in Mobile Gaming
On a personal level, I have been involved with the blockchain space since 2016. I was even buying crypto back then, which ended up being a very good investment. For the last year or so, I have really been researching and getting acquainted with NFTs and how they are entering and changing the gaming space. Although things are still in early stages with how NFTs and gaming are going to move forward together, I believe that big things are on the horizon. Many of the brightest people I know are working on blockchain technology, so I am confident that it’s something we will be seeing a lot of in the future, especially when it comes to gaming.
The development of blockchain and Web3 technology reminds me of when I was first working in mobile and running campaigns. First, there were no free-to-play games and you had to pay for any game you played. Then, developers released free-to-play games to the App Store and people were skeptical about how you could make money without paying for the game upfront. There were concerns about how profitable in-app purchases would be. Next thing you know, 5 or 6 years down the line in mobile gaming, F2P was the main model, with app marketers finding plenty of ways to run campaigns in free-to-play games that resulted in strong ROIs for their apps. Back then, I knew there were huge opportunities in the mobile gaming space, the same is likely to happen with web3 and gaming.
I don’t necessarily believe that blockchain technology will be a requirement of all games moving forward. However, my gut is telling me that in the not so distant future, users are going to be leveraging this type of technology without even realizing it. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for mobile gaming!
Want to learn more about mobile gaming? Get in touch with Enric to hear his expert opinions on the future of mobile gaming and the top trends in this space – or read more about Enric on his Appi Camper page.