As part of SBC’s build up to ICE2014, we caught up with Raf Keustermans CEO of Social Gambling studio – Plumbee to discuss mobile game development, design and impacts.
Raf will be speaking at ICE2014 at the Mobile Gaming Conference on 4th February and the Game Design & Development Conference on 5th February at the ExCel Centre: –
Raf: Thanks. As a Social Gaming developer we started making casino based social games for Facebook players. Facebook is where Plumbee gained its design and development competencies as a game developer. However as a team we always saw great potential in distributing our games via mobile channels, so we had to swiftly refocus and gain capabilities in building for these devices.
At first the process was much tougher than we anticipated, since we were building and integrating from desktop (Social) to mobile devices, so key game dynamics had to be changed or readjusted. These included adjustment of game controls and graphics, refining player journey and creating a mobile friendly portfolio in which to display our games.
The first releases were hard to undertake, but we have refined our processes for developing on mobile verticals. The reality is that developing games from Desktop to Mobile is much harder, than the other way round –this factor has led to us having a completely different approach to building games from when we started.
SBC: Operating on both social and mobile platforms, what differences and trends do you see between players using your products on the two different platforms?
Raf: There are key differences in the behaviour of players using desktop or mobile devices. The experience of the game within the two verticals is different and it leads to some key intricacies between play on the devices.
For example, game sessions on mobile devices tend to last shorter periods, at the start of development this had an impact on game economy, so our team had to adjust its game processes in order to make depositing more enticing to the mobile player.
Although the experience on the devices is different, I don’t believe that they are mutually exclusive, we want our players to enjoy our games on both devices, so we fine tune the product to suit player habits on both.
SBC: What reporting mechanisms has your team built to gauge the popularity and success of a game on your mobile portfolio?
Raf: The key here is to look and analyze key retention figures of your games performance on your mobile devices. That is what our reporting mechanisms are focused on, so we have a deep emphasis on game revenues, player engagement and we further study which games drive first deposits to our brands .
I must note that we do not discard games on Plumbee brands if they are not popular, instead we choose to refine them since we feel that they have some value to our overall portfolio, games that are not as popular as top titles will still be visible in our gaming clients, but the placement of them will be studied and adjusted. This I feel is a better practice than simply removing the game from the overall client.
SBC: You are in a unique position of operating in mobile and social verticals for gaming. Do you feel that operators have to change their operations both internally and externally in order to utilise these technologies their maximum capabilities?
Raf: My views on this matter are quite controversial! With technology innovation moving so fast and technology output becoming more convoluted and intertwined within multiple devices – mobile, desktop, social etc…. I feel that ‘control is the key to success’, and control can only be gained if these operational and development competencies are built and gained ‘in-house’
In terms of igaming operators, some have started to explore in-house development – 888 Poker for example have seen good growth by developing their poker product in-house instead of relying on whitelabel network technologies. Companies such as Gamesys have got great home-grown games that are vastly popular in the market.
Operators cannot not expect to have control of their game portfolios or gaming products, if they do not own any of the mediums in which their games are distributed. Their hands are simply tied, and I feel this will be a telling factor in years to come, as gamers become more sophisticated and ultimately more demanding!
SBC: How do you see mobile technologies evolving in terms of engagement and what impact will this have on igaming and social gaming?
Raf: I wish I had a crystal ball! These are very interesting times in tech, and as I mentioned before technologies are now becoming more intertwined with each other, because of this factor mobile could well become the dominant technology for development.
Looking at consumer habits, not just in gaming, but in all sectors, we see that mobile will continue to grow. If we also look at other sectors we have started to see that desktop development and the user journey is starting to mirror mobile development and customs as websites seem to look and function more in line with mobile user habits.
I believe that tablet devices will have a massive impact in all industries, proving to be the linking medium between desktop and mobile small screen devices. If you study the sale figures, Tablet demand is outselling desktop, by a vast amount. Tablet devices could well be the defacto medium for digital interaction and engagement in the near future. I definitely see more concentration and knowledge focused in this area.
SBC: As a speaker at ICE2014, what do you want attending delegates to take away from your sessions?
Raf: Good question as I’m a very busy man at this year’s conference! I will be speaking at several sessions, which I hope people will enjoy.
However thinking about it I feel that there are two types of delegates attending ICE2014, those who really believe in mobile and social technologies as being the future and those who are still skeptical about the verticals and their overall value.
For those who believe, I will be happy if they take some good nuggets of information regarding these verticals and how to apply them to their operations. To the skeptics I hope that I can clear some of their doubts regarding these verticals and help them gain the grounds for better understanding these new tech mediums.
Overall I hope that attendees gain new knowledge in whatever sessions they are sitting in on. For me that is the mark of a good conference!
Raf Keustermans CEO of – Plumbee Games