Archive for the ‘event’ category

Casual Connect Seattle 2009 coverage

July 22, 2009

I couldn’t make Social Games Summit 2009 and I’m totally bummed I missing out on Casual Connect Seattle 2009 too (it has an superb line-up of speakers in the social games track). So once again, I’m left observing the event from afar. Like I did for the Social Games Summit, I’m collecting misc tidbits and blog posting about social games from the event into this blog entry. I will update the entry as more stuff comes thru as the Casual Connect is still going on (until the 23rd of July).

Jessica Tams and the team behind the events do a fantastic job on also sharing the information post the event. All slides and audio recordings will be available free of charge (like they are here for the previous events). Jessica is absolutely right that the value of the Casual Games Association is measured by how much they can do for the industry as a whole and sharing information is key part on expanding the industry.

Misc tidbits from tweets (#casualconnect)

  • @gamersvu_abi Playfish/Zynga/Playdom say social games $1.5B industry in 3 years
  • @mikesego: “love is the most important metric” says @sebdeh from Playfish… best answer of the conference
  • @tadej Zynga: games services rather than products. Number of returning players (not play time) correlates with monetization.
  • @katelollar: There are more than 55 million unique [game] players on Facebook every month
  • @amyjokim: why have >1 currencies in a virtual economy? CONTROL. Too risky to have only 1 currency
  • @noahkagan @ what women want panel, #casualconnectwomen focused on collection, keeping active and socializing. 1 knew exact point count on king.com
  • @amyjokim offer your players LOTS of diff ways to spend money (and diff price pts)
  • @danielleleslie Q: How can game monetization models offer scalable engagement and attract branded dollars? A: Anu from Offerpal: Soon, fb app user will watch movie trailer, listen to music clip, etc. in return for virtual currency.
  • @NPDFrazier: Tom Prata – three pillars of successful games: 1) accessibility 2) sense of newness 3) consumer reaction
  • @bonder Trend 1 Virtual Worlds – YoVille, Pet Society
  • @bonder Trend 2 – Customization & Personalization – Farm Town, Sorority Life
  • @bonder Trend 3 – Collections & Wish Lists – Mafia Wars
  • @bonder Trend 4 – Simulations – Farm Town, Farmville, Barn Buddy, Restaurant City (Realtime sim)
  • @bonder Trend 5 – Narrative – Hammerfall, Bloodlines
  • @bonder Trend 6 – Interesting Missions – Street Racing, Mafia Wars, Mobsters 2, Hero World, Sorority Life (mini games)
  • @bonder Trend 7 – Gift Invites – Green Patch, Farm Town, Farmville, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Sorority Wars etc (it works!)
  • @bonder Trend 8 – Donations – Mouse Hunt
  • @bonder Trend 9 – Virtual Items – Mafia Wars, Street Racing, Vampire Wars, Pet Society – lots of opps to innovate here &gift invites
  • @bonder Trend 10 – Friends – Crazy Planets, Mafia Wars
  • @bonder Trend 11 – Social Games and iPhone – Word Fu (Twitter, email, FB Connect), Drop 7
  • @bonder Trend 12 – Using Social Net Data – Photo Grab
  • @hirson tips for fb game success – pt 1 1. Make it fun 2.make it social 3. Think Service, not product 4. Measure everything
  • @hirson tips for fb games success pt 2 – 5. Design for sharing 6. Build your footprint 7. Tailor monetization mix. 8. No spam.
  • @hirson last tips for fb games. 9 use fb resources (verified game and dev garage) and 10. Be a good citizen.
  • @mikesego Over 9.7 million users played a farm sim game (Farmville, Farm Town, Barn Buddy) yesterday on Facebook
  • @mikesego At Gareth’s talk – More people play games on Facebook than any other site on the web. True.
  • @jewlish Wii Mii’s came from Japanese wooden Kokeshi dolls.
  • @NicoleLazzaro Instead of modeling breeds Nintendogs modeled the most important relationship: btwn the owner and dog.
  • @NicoleLazzaro Nintendo keynote: In 2.5 yrs console and handheld market increased by 30 million players.
  • @jmwhite2: 300 new games released per day on the iPhone – 20% of all apps are games – dean takahashi

From 2009-07-22

  • @albertsupdates: “3 min user experiences are too long, 90 seconds (engagement cycles) is more optimal (on iphone)”
  • @albertsupdates Episodic content the future of iPhone games — are there parallels on Facebook?
  • @Jeff Shervin’s stats: Saturday peak days for installs, 25K to $40K daily installs for top paid games (= $250K/day for a $10 game)
  • @GameAddict Interesting numbers about ipod touch making up 30% – 50% of game sales from the panel sales
  • @katelollar 25% of all iPhone games are updated each month
  • @Jeff Bart shares a couple of updated stats on Tapulous: 15M users after a year, half a billion Tap Tap Revenge games played
  • @Jeff AppStore: 68,000 apps, 1.5 billion downloads, 20% of apps = games. Bart points out that apps’ installed base is typically 40/50% iPod Touch
  • @GameAddict Dave Roberts of Popcap: “13% of the market is paying for 65% of the games sales.” 13% = 14 – 24 y.o. Males
  • @gamesdotcom 13% of the population (14-34 men) drives the retail game business. Casual games are after the other 87%
  • brodiegames Day 2 #casualconnect. Enjoyed Arthur’s (@LastDayOfWork) talk. Takeaway: brand building around innovation can win vs high output/low quality.
  • @GameAddict 300 game submissions for mochi coins since yesterday’s announcement by Mochi Media.
  • @johnhcook: Is advertising dead as a business model for games? “No it just sucks right now,” says RealNetworks’ Dan Prigg
  • @johnhcook MSFT’s Hegenderfer at#casualconnect: No Zune phone coming.
  • albertsupdates FB Game Templates Poke/WallApps > MobGames > FarmeGames — What is the next template? Are template going to keep working?
  • johnhcook Hegenderfer of MSFT’s Windows Mobile on app stores: “Anyone who thinks Apple is going to run this thing is sadly mistaken.”
  • albertsupdates “v1.0 of marketplace launching nxt week”-steve/group manager, windows mobile| does anyone care? or is it a greenfield?
  • @lisaopolion Trends in casual online game – Thibaut from Gametap, “casual could become the #1 game genre within 6 mos”
  • gamesdotcom Metaboli.com is learning what casual game portals always knew. The audience plays a HELL of a lot! Casual most played
  • @albertsupdates: “Apple iTunes/Appstore is the new carrier deck” -still sucks w/o strong alternative (social) distribution
  • Kontagent Mindjolt is #7 app: aggregation of games w/ a social wrapper.Whos next to ship something similar from casual game pubs?
  • albertsupdates Thought: 5 stages of game distribution/evolution: box>downloads>flash>social>social/mobile; Can all survive/prosper?
  • @GameAddict: Greg Ballard , CEO Glu Mobile: “there are too many games in the App store and may follow the Atari disaster.

From 2009-07-23

  • @albertsupdates Focus on 2 Numbers – “Avg. Revenue Per User,” and “Avg. Revenue Per PAYING User
  • @RealTweeter Is wellness gaming the next big casual games trend
  • @dwlt NPD: “33% upgrade from free to paid games on iPhone”
  • @georgebray NPD: Gamers spend avg $7 on iPhone games in last 3 months
  • @Kontagent: IMO: 3 metrics: 1. ARPU, 2. Churn & also 3. (v)CAC: (viral) Customer Acqusition Costs
  • @Kontagent 2 years it took Zynga to get to ~$100M+ from $0; How many years does it take traditional co’s to build a MMO?
  • albertsupdates EngagedConf is now going to be hosted next to toyfair – Why? Because VirtualWorlds+BrandedToys = BigTime; Webkins=#1 toy
  • ElaineChase Casual mmos as loss leaders when used as marketing for a bigger property = tough market place for making them a business
  • albertsupdates “MTV has been the most prolific publisher of casual MMOs of anyone in the industry” – Ralph Koster
  • dwlt Koster – Casual & VWs should learn from AAA industry and avoid becoming too enamored with tech
  • georgebray NPD: 25% of online game players use a console. 59% of gamers use a console, 39% on PC and 35% use game websites
  • GameAddict NPD: The most notable changes are increase in women console gamers and decrease amount willing to pay for microtransactions
  • jmwhite2 NPD session – more people playing online educational games than online shooters. (26 pc vs 23 pc).
  • GameAddict NPD: Card/puzzle/arcade/word games are dominating the casual space with 56% of the market for online gaming.
  • GameAddict NPD: $701 mill in Retail PC, $740 mill in subscriptions, and $425 mill in PC Digitial dl’s in 2008.
  • GameAddict NPD Video games sector is the ony category of entertainment to grow in 08′, 33% of entertainment dollars towards gaming
  • GameAddict NPD: Kids lesiure time. Video Gaming and computer use have increased but only by 1 or 2 percent in 2 years
  • @GameAddict 90% of the revenue comes from virtual goods at QQ
  • GameAddict 6 million users on the casual side of QQ. (me: I totally wish more devs looked at asia for advice and tips. They’re on fire.)
  • @albertsupdates Game industry has always been highly fragmented, any market leader (i.e EA) has less than 20% marketshare
  • albertsupdates Game Publishers Focused on “Launch” and “Pushing Users Over $50 Barrier” vs. Social: Virality opt.&commnity building
  • ElaineChase “When NEuropean business does’t know if they can do something they say “no, we can’t” US defaults to “sure, we can do that”
  • albertsupdates Mobile Games 1.0 = BizDev Competitive Advantage; Mobile 2.0 = Content; Mobile Games 3.0 = Social Distribution IMO
  • chriscummings01 Think about this: Tencent in China has 6M simultaneous players at peak; in Q1’09 did $360M gross rev (90% from virtual goods)
  • ElaineChase Swoopo has a ridiculously brillant & evil buisness model based on the premise that humans as a group act stupidly
  • getgambit The ideal competitive model = users who win want to keep playing, and users who lose want to keep playing (until they win)
  • MargaretWallace Nuff said: (Tim) Chang: VC’s are devil-avoid us at all cost. Make it so they call you and want to invest in you.
  • lisaopolion Tim Chang “Content is king, but distribution will be God”
  • GameAddict Chang: Casual 3.0 will be 3d, streaming gaming, cloud gaming (same game on different devices), virtual currency exchange.
  • GameAddict Chang is using the analogy of dance clubs as game business models. Velvet ropped areas easy to see and people pay to get in
  • chriscummings01 “Pitching a VC today? No faster track to the recycle bin than anchoring your business model to advertising.” – Tim Chang
  • @chriscummings01 “From a VC perspective, survival is the new growth.” – Tim Chang, Norwest

Blog coverage

From 2009-07-22

From 2009-07-23 and later

Coverage of Social Gaming Summit 2009

June 24, 2009

sgs2009

I’m catching up on the Social Gaming Summit 2009 on the net, and here’s my bounty of news, twitter tidbits and links to further coverage.

Presentations

Blog coverage

Misc tidbits from #sgs09 backlog

These are misc tidbits from the backlog that stuck out.

  • Social Gaming ARPU’s: top games $1-2/month, good FB $0.30-0.40, good MS $0.60-.070
  • Conversions to paying users for social games 0.5% to 1.5% much lower than traditional MMOG’
  • Greg Tseng/Tagged: The most important social network conversion rate is # of monthly users that become daily users look closely at conversion from monthly active to daily active — and see 50% as a gold standard.
  • Jia Shen/RockYou – 5-7% of daily returning users is good (discounting promos), Shukla – RPGs can see 40%
  • Panel on retention/acq: use FB and provide free virtual goods at a staggered pace to bring user pack to app/game
  • Jia Shen/RockYou: Vanity URLs help with branding and discoverability in Facebook. Finding apps is still hard
  • Simplest thing for retention is to give incentives or alerts at a specific amount of time. Mafia Wars’ alert says New Jobs available
  • jnusser/vindicia: in RMT, friendly fraud 100x real, malicious fraud
  • Women, 34 to 50 in the US is the best audience you can get for monetization
  • Jia Shen/RockYou: FB retention is easier. Nobody uninstalls apps, devs can always try to reingage. MS has signif churn on apps
  • Jia Shen/RockYou: News feed momentum is important metric for distribution that is overlooked now. The reciprocation must happen quickly
  • Jia Shen/RockYou – the new FBook redesign is creating the same engagement growth as FB had during prev peak… but less spammy
  • Super Rewards: Free-mium social game monetization rates ~5% of users playing on any given day.
  • Zong: Fraud chargeback rates often in 5% range. Developers usually very happy with 1-1.5. Paypal: greater than 0.5% a concern
  • Virtual goods business in China is worth $4.5-$5Bn this year. Many games have over 1 million concurrent users
  • Playfish:5 weeks ago, we launched RestaurantCity with no cross promotion & grew to 5M users.
  • MySpace interesting stats: 70MM monthly in the US, 30MM are active app users
  • Playfish sold 20 million christmas trees and ornaments mirroring social behavior in real world
  • Zynga invested $2mil in guild of heroes. Seems kind of high!
  • on FB, there are 100 games with 100,000 players 30 games by 1 million, 3 games with 10,000,000 games
  • Zynga: Building social capital can go beyond your real friends” – Pincus; but 70% of the time you log into Poker, a ‘real’ friend is there
  • Playdom sold $100K worth of virtual pink Volkswagon’s on Sorority Life in 2 days
  • Keys to a successful social game by Mark Pincus at Zynga: 1) real friends, 2) self expression, 3) stored value
  • Zynga (Pincus) games have to give you 1) feeling of playing with friends, 2) social outlet, expression 3) invest in game
  • 3rd secret to Pincus – buy items (i am paraphrasing). Result is that players has social capital. Pincus is master of buzz words
  • 2nd secret: Pincus from Zynga – social games must be playground for your personality. Express yourself (channeling Madonna)
  • 1st secrets:  Pincus:  Games must appeal to your friends
  • A pillar of social game is to invest in game over time and give players a sense of value. This is why virtual goods are valued.
  • Design games as objects of social interaction, you get the benefit as a user of inviting your friends into the game
  • game themes (pets, farms, restaurants) in top 10 apps – starting to mirror the over 35 crowd (similar to casual games)

Read the full backlog via Twitter search

Speaking at Nordic Game 19th – 20th May

May 15, 2009

nordic-game09

Nordic Game is the premier nordic game developer’s conference, now on its fourth year. It has been going from strength to strength and last year was an exceptionally good year with great presentations, excellent networking and a nice, tight-knit feeling to the whole event.

Last year I had a chance to participate at a panel on emerging trends, and I was very delighted to be invited back  to speak again this year. My presentation on How to start a game a company at Casual Connect Europe 2009 got tremendous feedback, and I’m happy to presenting an updated version of it at Nordic Game on Wednesday 20th of May at 14:45.

I’m also participating in the “Art of the Deal” panel on Tuesday 19th at 13-15 o’clock . This is about pitching game concept to game publishers, but I hope to bring into the discussion what I’ve learned and experienced from pitching to VCs.

If you are at the show, come and say hi!

Thoughts after Mini-Seedcamp

May 5, 2009

seedcamp

I spent today mentoring fellow entrepreneurs at Mini-Seedcamp at Helsingborg. Going in I felt that most value I could add would come from sharing what we have learned on the road of getting Everyplay off the ground. It turned out that while that was valuable as a background for the day, most of the time was spent in brainstorming ideas for growth, monetization and financing together with the other mentors and the entrepreneurs themselves.

After each one of the twenty startups had given their five minute pitch in the beginning of the day, we started in-depth sessions with two startups at a time. It was great working with passionate entrepreneurs and experienced fellow mentors to dig thru the startup’s assumptions and try to nail down how they could get more customers, create more revenue, scale faster and finance all of that.

There were a couple of startups that had big ideas ranging from really creative and cutting edge uses of peer to peer technology (Peerialism) to transforming paper receipts into electronic ones on any point of sale terminal (Kvittar). On the other end of the spectrum it was great to see real operational and growing business like Red Apple Apartments, who are adding a lot of value to the apartment rental business and are struggling to manage the fast growth (what a happy problem! ;-)).

The high points of the mentoring sessions definitely were those couple breakthroughs where the entrepreneur and the mentors would jointly come up with a new twist to the startup’s take on the market and you could literally see the entrepreneur’s eyes light up in a heureka moment. One of those moments took place in the mentoring session with 1Calendar, who simplify the hassle that juggling university course schedules is. After thinking thru the market and how they could scale faster, we came up with a pretty nifty crowdsourcing twist for getting more universities rapidly into the system. I can definitely see 1Calendar running with that idea and scaling a lot faster than they could have done before.

Most of the startups were really early and one shared criticism between every mentor I spoke with was the challenges in articulating what they really were doing. Way too many dressed up their perfectly good business idea into a Dilbert mission generator-esque mumbojumbo that you’d need 10 gigawatt lasers to pierce thru. It was also obvious that many of the startups need more practice on pitching and presenting as the morning presentations were somewhat lackluster except for a five-six standouts. It’s easy to critize, but I’d hope that every single startup pitching would video record themselves pitching, analyze the recording and repeat at least 15 times before appearing in front of a demanding audience like the one at Seedcamp.

One thing I felt that could have been added to the mentoring sessions is the notion of methodologies or approaches that a startup could use to structure their business development activities. I’ve become a huge believer in Customer Development, and I can’t help thinking that every startup founder needs something similar to help guide them.

Personally I’m totally stoked after working the day with fellow entrepreneurs at the Mini-Seedcamp. The passion and energy totally swept me along. Each startup had their own unique approach and I could learn something from every single one of them.

Best of luck to all of the Mini-Seedcampers – follow your passion and execute relentlessly!

Mentoring at Mini-Seedcamp at Helsingborg on 5th of May

April 21, 2009

seedcamp

Seedcamp is a catalyst for European startups. The main event is a week long bootcamp for handful of pre-qualified European startups in London. Fellow Finnish start-up Scred was selected to participate last fall. I chatted with Kristoffer from Scred after the event and he was very impressed about the learnings they were able to take away from the event.

So I was definitely excited when I got invited to act as a mentor at one of the Mini-Seedcamps being held across Europe. Karri and the crew at the ever-so-fantastic Arctic Startup blog recommended me to the Swedish organizers of the Helsingborg event held on 5th of May and I jumped at the chance to participate.

The Mini-Seedcamp mentors are VCs and serial entrepreneurs including Daniel Blomquist from Creandum, Hjalmar Winbladh from Rebtel and Thomas Weilby Knudsen from Northcap Partners.  And yours truly. It’s an interesting situation to be a mentor when we are down in the trenches at Everyplay (with nothing public to show yet). I can’t offer recent “here’s how I’ve succeeded” type of lessons. Instead I can offer “here ‘s what I think works” and “this is how we are doing it”. There are definitely war stories and lessons learned in how Everyplay got off the ground, the 17+ years spent as entrepreneur in running ASSEMBLY (6000+ participants every year, over 200 person volunteer workforce) and the parallels between pitching video games to game publishers and pitching startups to VCs.

I expect to learn at least as much from being a mentor as the startups can learn from the successes and follies I’ve encountered on my road to Mini-Seedcamp at Helsingborg.

Top VCs on investing in games (Gamesbeat 2009)

March 24, 2009

Gamesbeat

I’m today at the Gamesbeat 2009 event hosted by Venturebeat. The day opened with the best VC panel on games that I’ve ever witnessed. Every VC on the panel had invested in games,  had their finger on the pulse of the market and had good insights to share. The pace of the session was blazing fast and it covered everything from what they are investing in to how social games is an user acquisition tactic instead of full-blown category of games.

I tried to record everything in a mindmap and I was typing away at breakneck speeds , so the mindmap may contain mis-quotes and may be somewhat hard to decipher at times. Jetlag doesn’t help either ;-).

Download the mindmap as a PDF.

At Game Developer’s Conference 23rd – 29th March

March 19, 2009

gdc09

The Game Developer’s Conference is the event for game developers. I thought I could take a break from going this year as GDC’s focus is mostly “traditional” game development (consoles, PC etc), but I couldn’t resist the siren’s call after all ;-). Personally it is going to be primarily about meetings and networking, and hanging out with fellow game developers.

The most relevant stuff for Everyplay is in the Worlds in Motion summit held on Monday and Tuesday. I especially look forward to Raph Koster’s kickoff for the summit – his presentations are always thought provoking. It’s too bad that I’ll miss the Tuesday sessions of Worlds in Motion summit, as I’m going to be VentureBeat‘s GamesBeat 2009 event).

A couple of friends are also presenting at GDC. Check out e.g. Adam Martin’s, Sulka Haro’s, Petri Purho’s, Matt Swoboda’s and Thomas Bideaux‘ presentations.

If you are at GDC or in downtown San Francisco, and would like to meet during the week, drop me an email at jussi dot laakkonen at nospam-gmail dot com.