Chief marketing and commercial officer of Kama Games, Daniel Kashti, talks to Sean Cleaver about monetising the social casino market
If I said the word casino to you, you’d probably think that monetisation would be an inherent part of that app. Kama Games, a leading publisher in the social casino space, take us through the different challenges of monetising mobile games in today's environment. “The paid model has some serious limitations when it comes to getting players to try your game,” says Daniel Kashti, chief marketing and commercial officer at Kama Games. “This issue is becoming even more critical when your game exists within the crowded freemium space.
“For a freemium model to work, the game mechanics need to have 2 key elements: repeating game play and a restriction mechanism that slows down progression or prevents access to core features (game features or social features). Once you have those two elements, it makes perfect sense to introduce a monetization mechanic in the form of in-app purchase that allows a player to skip the restricting mechanic, to level up or to interact with other players in the game by spending money.”
There are also differences between how you design your apps to reflect the increase in interactivity. In the case of their game, Pokerist, real life poker has a very large social element to it. “The gameplay mechanics of poker are pretty straight forward and are - in the most part – set,” Kashti says. “However, we constantly consider how the social layers of the game are embedded into the experience and enhance the game across?different levels. Different features naturally cater for different player segments, and so when putting together the product road map, we balance between features that enhance the game for the advanced poker players, as well as providing more exciting options to players that are more motivated by the social aspects of the game.”
We do believe that players would be willing to commit to a premium game
Daniel Kashti, Kama Games
The free to play gaming space, and how to monetise it, is something developers talk about at great?length and there still isn’t any real formula that suggests how to capitalise best?from it. “It’s really important to break the gaming industry scene into the different components and game types that are building it,” Kashti says. “When talking about the hardcore audience (for example - console and PC players), they are typically happy to buy a premium title and avoid the game-play constraints.
“Some games are, by design, more suitable for monetisation through in-app purchases. It’s important to remember that even in these games, the vast majority of the users (more than 97 per cent) will enjoy playing the game without ever spending money in it. They will however get really annoyed if you keep pushing them to take part in promotions or bombard them with ads. Like in many other cases finding the sweetspot, segmenting the user base, identifying the different motivations of users and natively integrating your monetisation mechanics (in-app purchases or ads) – really is key.”
The future might come in the form of a more subscription based gaming system. “The model has proven successful for other industries,” Kashti explains, “like video services such as Netflix and HBO and even the video games industry with Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus charging a monthly fee for multiplayer access and exclusive content. While the subscription model hasn’t made its way into mobile gaming yet, we do believe that players would be willing to commit to a premium game or to their favourite and trusted developer.”
One of the avenues that Kama Games is exploring is the use of VR and AR in their products. This could present all new challenges in monetisation, especially with the immersive nature of these mediums. “We believe that we are at the earliest stages of VR and AR,” Kashti says, “and we haven’t even started to scratch the surface in terms of understanding the experience that people would feel comfortable with.”
Kashti is quick to warn however that the experience must always win out. “Focusing on the experience is taking priority over breaking down the monetisation aspect technology.”