Great Showing for Social Casino Gaming Summit USA
First off, was very happy that the Social Casino Gaming Summit held in the Bellagio was around the same time as World Series of Poker happening at the Rio. I got to do a bit of both these last few weeks, but looking back, might have been more strategic to do the ‘work-related’ events first, rather than at the end of the trip. For some reason, I dont sleep well in Vegas at all (even with all my little blue pills), but happy I feel rested once again (no place like home) before heading back to Vegas this week to play the rest of the WSOP series.
I want to quickly recap the Social Casino Gaming Summit 2013 while it was still fresh in my mind and share a few of my notes.
Social Casino Gaming Summit
The Social Casino Gaming Summit 2013 is the first social gaming conference I have ever been too. Even though I love networking and am a people person, I tend to shy away from these events as I find them a bit of a circle jerk (am I allowed to say that?) and pretentious. This event however, I found to be quite the contrary! This is probably due to the line-up of speakers, topics presented and delegates present.
|Social Casino Gaming Summit 2013 – Registration
Some speakers included: Frank Pracukowski of Foxwoods, Cary DiJulio of Big fish games, Nick Bogovich of GSN, Andy Choy of Riviera Casino, Charles Harper of Double Down Casino, Rich Roberts of Slingo, Eamoon Toland of Paddy Power NA, Mitch Garber of Caesars, Jamison Selby of Monkey King Games, Matthew Cullen of Rocket Play, Brock Pierce of Playsino
Some of the topics of interest included:
- Understanding regulation and de-regulation and how it affects social casino offerings
- Best ways to monetize social casino players
- Convergence in the social casino gambling space & what the future outlook is
- Partnerships with casino operators, iGaming platforms & game developers
- How to create engaging & compelling social games etc.
Big props to the organizer, Tom Sapsted for putting together such a great show and the MVP of the event goes to host speaker Joost Van Dreunen, founder of Superdata Research for making the event run smoothly and for guiding the event’s discussions. He was delightfully entertaining and informative.
THE EVENT: SOCIAL CASINO GAMING SUMMIT
- Excellent venue at the Bellagio, Da Vinci Room.
- The lunch served on both days was delicious! I wish I could eat it again right now actually.
- Wine networking at the end of day 1 was also appreciated.
- Very quaint and personable and by end of day 2, everyone knew who everyone else was. There was about 200 total attendees and I think a good enough number for it not to be overwhelming.
- The price point at first I thought was high, but I think probably worth it so that you get high-caliber people rather than just many randoms. ~$1500 give or take for both days.
|Wow had no idea the Bellagio is was so big! Only been in the Casino & Poker Room previously!
SOCIAL CASINO GAMING
- Reinforced fact that social games is a service & is no different for Social Casino Games.
- Relevancy and cross platform, really big importance!
- There is no known ‘secret sauce’, but rather chance, luck, trial & error, innovation. IE. Slingo
- Maintaining player bases happens in game design, build an authentic community, tweaking and tuning your product continuously and a/b testing/analytics extremely important on all fronts.
- The average social casino player plays 4.1 hours a month, doing ~15-30 minute sessions at a time.
- King.com will likely do an IPO October / November of 2013. Might be a resurge of interest in this market after the negative light shed by Zynga
- Pretty much everyone hates Zynga (Lol… sorry but it’s the truth!)
- ARPPU/ARPMU (Average revenue per paying user/ Average revenue per month user) <10% is not so good, >15-20% great!
- There is no rush, casino games aren’t going anywhere…just concentrate on making a great product that people love! First time movers might have had the viral advantage, but there is ALWAYS a market for new and great games!
MARKETING SOCIAL CASINOS
- It’s all about your product! Focus on a great game first and foremost before even thinking about scaling up traffic.
- Manage your marketing campaigns & be specific rather than general to increase conversion! IE. Tune emails to the lifecycle of your player. Create cohorts within ur player base.
- Recognized brands in social casino gaming may result in x2 CAC. Higher click throughs for relevancy / relatability
- Link Data to creative = Winning!
REAL MONEY GAMING (RMG)
- As expected, there were many people in the industry buzzing about US gambling opening up, Nevada allowing online gambling, Caesar’s Entertainment buying WSOP.com, Zynga’s merger with Bwin.party, UK real money gaming etc.
- I think there is still a big divide between real money gaming operators and social casino gaming and how each side views each other. Real money gaming operators look at social casino game developers as beggars for investment, when in reality, they really need to look at us as freedom fighters that will pave a new world to the next generation of gamers.
- Regulations are still in the unknown but personally feel social responsibility is the most important thing we can do as social casino operators to ensure this industry stays as it is. Regulating Farmville really does not make sense as social casinos offer a similar entertainment service… but there is definitely a fine line between RMG & Social Casinos. Good arguments exist where Social Casinos can ‘gateway’ to RMG with unrealistic expected returns.
- There are currently only 3 companies doing RMG on FB in the UK. Adding more is better for the industry, so rather than trying to take out all the small players (ahem…Zynga), let’s ban together an support to grow this industry as a whole. It will be better for everyone.
MOBILE SOCIAL CASINO GAMING
- Cross-platform is definately a must for survival in this industry.
- Deciding which dev. technology is best is simply a choice, and HTML5 has limitations, but so does Native etc. Most effective to mix-match between them all.
- HTML5 still proves to be the ‘easiest; way to go for small studio startups in terms of cost as opposed to developing in multiple native languages.
- Mobile traffic still the cheapest using FB Ads for social casinos, allowing good targets. Incentived traffic also a good idea.
- According to SuperData 80-85% of social casinos players use Desktop and not mobile! I am currently inquiring if this fact is true, and getting them to breakdown exactly what browsers are used and other data such as what time of day, length of session, k-factor, sex, income level, other interests etc.
|The future lies in the palm of our hands...literally.
LAND-BASED CASINOS & SOCIAL CASINO GAMING
- I learned that the majority of brick and mortar casinos have no idea how to tap into this space… completely foreign to them, and seeing the affiliate growth of Double Down is a very clear indicator of that. Many actually believe that using Double Down white label is considered ‘free advertising’ when in reality it might be the lazy way to get into this space and might as well not do it imo. Many of them get into bed with DoubleDown because of their previous relationships with IGT, but by being a white label in a sea of hundreds, u lose product uniqueness, innovation, relevancy and most importantly of all, customer service – the number 1 factor in what makes a social game successful. Also, I think what these casinos don’t realize is that they lose their own virtual power of player data in their own hands and hand it over to a 3rd party.
- A few of the Casino operators at the Summit also agreed with these points, and actually wasn’t sure if DoubleDown solution was good for them, but didn’t know what else to do. I get the feeling that they wanted to stay ‘current’ or be perceived as ‘in-the-know’, when in reality, it may be quite the contrary.
- Land-based casinos are intrigued by social gaming online, but are unsure how to divert their ads spend to have it make sense or work within their existing infrastructure. They all want an online solution and many are partnering with IT companies but all want the ‘total package solution’ but not willing to put much work/funds into getting it.
- There is definitely room for a game changer, and it looks like Caesar’s Entertainment is very much in the lead.
- Bridging the gap between online and offline is an extremely difficult problem.
- Data shows very little overlap between the social gaming & land-based customers (Rivera Casino). They are in the business of bringing users in the door, and their current data for CAC is exponentially higher for using traditional marketing methods such as Billboards or Snail Mail outs. This could also be due to the reason that they are not using Social Marketing correctly, which I believe may be damaging to their future business and can make them irrelevant/suffer in the future if they don’t get it right.
- A quote that hit the nail on the head about current brick and mortar casinos ’10 years ago the average age of a casino patron was 41… now it’s 51′. So unless these casinos figure out what it takes to create a new type of player, and stay relevant to the generation of today, they risk becoming dinosaurs.
- I really don’t think Land-based casino operators should be trying to get into the online social gaming space without consulting with an outside experts such as those at www.adriancrook.com. Find someone who is neutral, understands the space and isn’t trying to sell you on their products cause they won’t have your best interests at hand.
POKER SPECIFICALLY IN SOCIAL CASINO GAMING
- US still views online poker to be huge & exciting
- UK believes poker to be the rev. problem child although mobile growth does look promising. Issues & concerns include rake back schemes, highly commoditized product, limited payout ($500/week), low margins (5-10%), hard to differentiate, young audience and the game being quite ‘new’ so hard to reach older markets without investment in it’s education.
|Kevin Pollock (Hollywood Poker). Jokingly I say “Hey Joe Pesci!”
MARKETING NICHES & CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN SOCIAL CASINO GAMING
- Really enjoyed Raf Keustermans, CEO of Plumbee talk about the differences between the UK market & that of North America.
- BINGO in the UK is not seen as ‘soft’ gaming as it is in the US. Real money BINGO in Europe is a $800M/year industry with $100M ad spend on TV alone!
- Bingo USA has 75 balls, UK has 90 balls.
- 55% of US slots gamers are woman, 55% of them in Europe are male due to cultural drivers.
- RTP (Return-to-player), Europe: 95-97%, north america: 80-92%
- Many older players are not familiar with the 5 reel slot machine & prefer the 3 reels.
- NO SOFTWARE PATENTS IN EUROPE!
OVERALL CLOSING COMMENTS
- My goal for attending this Social Casino Games Summit was to find some clearer direction for Lucky Lady Games, network with like-minded others & to figure out our next steps.
- I learned that what we at LLG created as a small studio not only impressed the industries finest, but confirmed my belief that one day we will be one of the industry’s leading players
- This event reinforced my own personal place in this industry and gave me more confidence than ever of my expertise in social casino space.
- We have a social responsibility as casino entertainment operators and to never use the industry term ‘whales’ as that is NOT the right monetization approach, rather a little bit from everyone instead.
|Small studio advantage!
Josh Uguardo, President of SGN, gave me some really great advice at our lunch together. To succeed in this space you need ‘tenacity’! I couldn’t agree more. Lucky Lady Games is definitely on the right track and I am more excited than ever to keep moving forward & continue to strive to create the best cross-platform social casino games to be enjoyed by the world.
Until next time,