by kScope guest contributor
Tyler York, Marketing and Customer Development, Betable
It’s becoming clear that casino games are the next big social game genre.
Take a look at the image above, provided by Kontagent. Casino games are surpassing farm games as the darlings of social networks: The growth of monthly active users (MAUs) for farm games is slowing, while that of social casino games is generating higher revenues–seven times, to be precise–than the casual games category.
Furthermore, with downward pressure on Facebook’s stock from its falling revenues, it’s become increasingly likely that it will soon allow real-money gambling on its platform. Couple that with evidence that legislation may open up parts of the U.S. market to online gambling, and you have a perfect storm forming that game developers would be foolish to ignore.
The smart gambling companies have already made their moves into the social space. With IGT‘s purchase of Double Down Interactive and Caesar‘s purchase of Playtika,* gambling companies have snapped up the two largest existing social casino games. The savviest social game companies aren’t far behind them, with multiple companies creating their own casino games and Zynga aggressively moving into real-money gaming.
The threat comes from both sides. Social game companies have intricate knowledge of social game mechanics and their existing user bases. They can also “flip on” real-money play in their existing games and be a huge threat. Gambling companies can afford to spend hundreds of dollars per player to acquire users, and they are experts in capturing and retaining whales. They can bring massive war chests and marketing knowledge to any fight.
In wartime, information is power. Going into this fight without analytics is like flying blind through enemy territory. You want the equivalent of the USSSN. When your company’s future is on the line, you want the best analytics available on your side so you can make the most informed decisions possible. Analytics is something that gambling companies are already experts on, but only within the context of gambling-only websites. You have the upper hand on Facebook and mobile platforms, for now. Leverage that as much as possible now to get the most distance between you and the invading force.
When you’re fighting tooth and nail for market share, those who use the best tactics have an inherent advantage. That’s why optimizing the betting mechanics in your social gambling game is key to victory. If your opponent is converting better than you are or keeping players more engaged, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle for eyeballs and dollars. Instead, you should follow Blitzoo’s lead by using A/B testing recorded by robust analytics to continuously optimize your betting mechanics.
In any battle, resources are the key to victory. The two key resources for any game company are players and money, and they have become increasingly fluid with the advent of the freemium game model and modern distribution platforms. This makes real-money gaming the ultimate weapon: real-money casino games earn more than $300 per player per month. Real-money monetization is so powerful because with it, you have more ammunition that you can use to build games, acquire more players, and retain your most valuable players over the long term. Without it, you will always be outgunned by those that are using real-money gaming mechanics.
With a new battleground set to define the future of the social gaming space, you may need anywhere from one to all of these tools to succeed. Good luck, soldier.
*Playtika is a Kontagent customer.
About the author: Tyler York does marketing and customer development at Betable, the first-ever platform that lets game developers create innovative new games by legally adding engaging real-money play. Prior to Betable, Tyler was a member of True Venture’s TEC 2010 program before joining Lookout Mobile Security as their third marketing employee.