Thought Leadership
Bigpoint on Mobile User Acquisition for Hardcore MMOs

vladimir-leutar-bigpoint

Vladimir Leutar
Senior Online Marketing Manager
Bigpoint GmbH

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Bigpoint is one of the largest mobile gaming companies in the world, with hits like DarkOrbit Reloaded, Drakensang Online, Seafight, and Battlestar Gallactica. Can you tell us a little more about your studio for those of us that aren’t already familiar with your hit games?

Bigpoint is one of the biggest German free-to-play video game developers with around 350 million registered users, with focus on browser and mobile games. It started of in 2002 and has an impressive portfolio of some of the most famous free-to-play games ever made.

 

Many of your games are MMOs, with hundreds of thousands if not millions of users playing simultaneously, together. Does the more hardcore nature of your games influence the way you approach user acquisition?

It most definitely does. Even though our best MMO Drakensang Online can’t be described as truly hard-core, there is a significant difference between how we configure our approach to fans of farming games such as Farmerama, a pirate browser game Seafight or a mobile game like Hocus Puzzle. We strive to present the right games to the exactly the kind of audience we have targeted, which requires us to know exactly who our ideal buyer persona is in each case is and where we can find them.

 

Many Silicon Valley companies speak of getting users to reach ah Aha! Moment in an app, which can help to dramatically increase their engagement and retention rates. Are there specific instances in your games you optimize for to get a user to reach, and is this something you take into consideration when acquiring users?

Getting the AHA! moment is tricky, for two reasons; first of, it is getting harder and harder to surprise people to “dramatic extents” (the typical “been there, done that” syndrome) and second, well, it is hard to maintain the higher level of the thrill of that specific moment. I believe it should be far more important to create a consistently positive experience for the users, establish trust and thus turn them from freeloaders into superfans.

 

Fiksu released a report in stating that mobile CPIs were hovering around $3.50 for the month of February. Do you think that CPIs will continue to rise, with increased competition between app developers, or will there be a plateau point as competition wanes in the marketplace?

It is ungrateful to make such predictions, especially when it turns out one has been wrong and they come back to bite you, but I think it is safe to say that we will see a gradual upward trend. But the market is still evolving and I am certain that it has a couple of surprises for all of us up its sleeve.

 

To the extent that you can reveal, are there any up and coming platforms (like Twitch, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) that can perform well for mobile UA?

It is by no means the same for everyone, but I see a lot of potential in Instagram as well as Snapchat, however, it is really hard to keep pace with the spirit and the culture of the new platforms such as Snapchat. It is important to reach out to influencers here as well.

 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges we face today in mobile advertising?

I would say the inability to target users to a higher degree, as well as fraud and increasing competition. the window of opportunity is getting smaller by the day and the profits are decreasing accordingly.

 

Are there any non-paid user acquisition channels that perform well for Big Point, or that you think other developers should also focus on? (Virality/Sharing, ASO, Deeplinking by Branch Metrics, Bloggers, PR, Influencers, live events, etc)

Personally I prefer to focus on those channels that are stable and provide long-term traffic to your products without the need to be constantly pushed by large sums of money. Therefore I prioritize all activities around search engine optimization, link building, reaching out to bloggers, influencers, streamers, any venue that will establish channels of income which can last for a longer time and prove to be of higher value. In short, have your story and tell it to the right people on the right places through content marketing; this is something that is still not being practiced enough or good enough.

 

What are your thoughts on TV advertising for mobile games? Is this even remotely possible for mid-size game developers, or is it limited to only the top 10 or 20 grossing apps?

While it may seem that only the big players can afford to get Liam Neeson in their TV ad during the Super Bowl, there is still an element of good, old fashioned guerrilla marketing, and smart thinking will let you apply those rules even to your TV ads. But we need to keep in mind that TV is still a dinosaur refusing to adapt to the rules of modern online performance marketing and I would not recommend focusing on its effectiveness. If you are small or mid-size game developer, focus on building your community (and associated influencers) and make them your evangelists. Paradox Interactive has achieved great results with the launch of their last game, Stellaris, off of the community buzz they carefully nurtured – even though it is not a mobile game, it is something mobile UA should be taking notes from.

 

Fraud runs rampant in mobile user acquisition, for both clicks, and installs. What are some tell-tale signs that a network is running fake users and how can a developer best handle this situation?

There are many different techniques on how a network can commit fraud, and we can only expect a rise in frauds as well as more refined methods in performing them. Some have reported a fraud rate up to 30% of their investments! By sending fake users to the developers (applications that simulate user behavior) and mixing low quality and high quality traffic, or entirely substituting the Tier 1 traffic (USA; Europe) with low tier traffic (undeveloped countries with a very low GDP). You should definitely have a dedicated tracking software in place and look for the fraud signs such as many consecutive installs from the same device (same name, same operating system), installs that lead to no in-game activity whatsoever. It seems that fraud attempts will only increase, and a good education on the topic will be a must for all developers.

 

Lastly, what is your take on the future of mobile user acquisition?

It will definitely get more competitive, App Store Optimization will gain in relevance and reaching top ten lists will become the conquest of the virtual Mt Everest. But there is more. There is a potential for far more demanding mobile games, which can in return lead to the change of the scenery and rise of more “hard-core mobile gaming“.  An early example could be a mobile MOBA Vainglory that shows how things could develop in the next several years. This might introduce a breed of more loyal players with higher retention, who will identify more with the games they are playing, thus giving a mobile community around a specific game more stable foundations. This will definitely cause changes in mobile user acquisition, so we might even witness a partial return to the philosophy of desktop games with communities forming around these new games. It could be a whole Brave New World out there we are not yet fully aware of.

 


 

Bigpoint (www.bigpoint.com) is a leading global online game developer and publisher. Headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, Bigpoint designs high-quality games for all gamer segments for browser, client and mobile. They are published on bigpoint.com, as well as by more than 1,000 international distribution partners and media companies.

Employees from 35 countries use state-of-the-art technology to transform the industry with innovative gaming concepts, while setting international standards to fulfill the expectations of more than 350 million gamers in over 200 countries.

Every one of the 40 online games in Bigpoint´s portfolio is free-to-play and many of the titles have won various international prizes and audience awards, such as the German Developer Award 2014 and the Game Connection Award 2015 for Shards of War.

In addition to its headquarters in Hamburg, Bigpoint holds a development hub in Berlin, a mobile game studio in Lyon and maintains presences throughout Europe, the USA and Asia for distribution purposes.

Join our fast growing international team today – www.bigpoint.net.

 

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