Who better to talk about how to put the game in the hands of gamers than the man in charge of marketing and sales? I had the chance to talk to Jeff Spears, VP of Marketing and Sales at Mobile Deluxe, creators of Jewel Quest.
Daniel Spiler – Brutal Gamer: Alright. First up: Could you state your official title and quick rundown of what you do at Mobile Deluxe.
Jeff Spears – Mobile Deluxe: VP,Marketing & Sales at Mobile Deluxe. I have a small team that runs all user aqusition efforts to put players into our games, oversee our customer facing social media like facebook, twitter, etc, oversee partner relations with Apple, Amazon, and Google, and analyze behavior of players within our apps to give them the best experience. In addition, as we’re a free to play mobile publisher, customer care is under marketing and something we don’t take lightly. we want to get a great experience to all players and answer all care inquiries in-house.
Daniel Spiler: That’s something I don’t hear enough, and I’m glad you guys put a lot of effort into that. And it shows.
Daniel Spiler: In terms of reaching out to players then, what was the motivation behind marrying the two distinct (and typically separatea) social game mechanics of city building (like farmville) and resource/time management (like cooking mama)?
Jeff Spears: Is this related to Jewel Factory specifically?
Daniel Spiler: Primarily yes, but I have noticed at least two other MD games that follow a similar style (Addiction and the Sudoku Deluxe/forest rebuilding cross-media stuff)
Jeff Spears: Ah, cool. Addiction and Sudoku Deluxe are catalog titles that have been out for some time and not part of our current freemium strategy, but thanks for playing them. We’ll have a new Sudoku Deluxe game at some point in 2013. As for Jewel Factory..
Jeff Spears: I think we saw an option to marry the fun casual type of game play with the simulated, world-buuilding type of game. In our view it’s a diff’t type of game than singularly making a simulation or puzzle or card game. It’s a great hyrbrid and felt natural to put together.
Jeff Spears: Internally we all play casual games of course and challegne each other in various turn based games and puzzle games. We also got hooked on some of the world building games and thought we could marry the two and make it great fun.
Daniel Spiler: And is Mobile Deluxe looking to continue developing hybrid games?
Jeff Spears: Nothing planned short term. We’re in the process of updating some of our previously distributed games into free to play games.
Jeff Spear: Also, we have a simulated, world building, resource managemtn game that will be great.. probably mid 2013.
Daniel Spiler: Interesting that you guys are looking to maintain the quality and care of your new freemium approach with some of your back catalogue. It shows a lot of care and attention to your players/customers.
Daniel Spiler: What were some of the issues and “victories” that came up during the development of Jewel Factory, within your area specifically (marketing/player interaction/etc)?
Jeff Spears: Yeah, we’re fully committed to free to play, and have been for nearly 2 years. But with free to play definitely comes a level of support. Downloads increase many times over, but we want to keep players in our games, enjoying themselves.
Daniel Spiler: They come for the free, stay for the quality.
Jeff Spears: Issues.. and victories. Our Producer would probably best speak to the super laborious process of merging the game types, but I think the fact that this started as a casual game and merged into a ‘real world’ game takes a lot of nuiance. Accounting for currencies, makign a compelling game that makes you want to earn rewards, and having the casual game portion of Jewel Factory naturally fit with the simulation part are all considerations.
Jeff Spears: We focus tested as a marketing/production team to see how folks would play. We wanted to make sure they got the game concept without too much insturction, but enough to get started… that they found it fun and challenging.. that visually they felt it was something aesthetically they’d like to open every day. Females were our demographic target and our play-tests came back super positive which was encouraging. But, it also gave us more things to tweak and make better.
Daniel Spiler: What were some of the things you got feedback on?
Jeff Spears: Primarily the game concept and whether they found it fun, if they thought things were intuitive or needed additional instruction, what their favorite parts of the game were which was split between the jewel sorting and the real world… and many wanted more world expansion. Incidentally, Jewel Factory was updated on iOS with additional land expansion.
Daniel Spiler: Looking back, is there anything you’d change about how you approached the development of the game, from a marketing/playtesting perspective?
Jeff Spears: Probably just a better sense of how much goes into a resource management type game. We really started from a casual game place and then went towards a hybrid route. And in hindsight it changed the game entirely.
Daniel Spiler: Which is what I think makes it not just such a unique game, but a rather fun experience.
Daniel Spiler: Is Mobile Deluxe looking at delving into other game markets or genres, or is the plan to stay focused and dedicated to mobile/social?
Jeff Spears: We’re definitely focused on casual games and building on the social portion. Big Win Slots, Solitaire Deluxe, and Jewel Factory are more female in nature, and we want to stay in this position.
Daniel Spiler: So not just genre/market, but demographic as well. Interesting!
Jeff Spears: Yeah, we do have a Big Win Blackjack title, but I think it plays well as a cross sell from our Big Win Slots game. But in general, yes, demographic has been a focus. We ultimately want to pull players into our Universe of games.
Daniel Spiler: What advice would you give to aspiring marketing students looking to get into Game Marketing/Sales specifically?
Jeff Spears: That’s interesting since mobile games, and tech in general, changes on a dime. I would say understanding the market – what people are downloading compared to what is top grossing – it’s crucial from a high level. Get a good sense of the analytics that are crucial to player acquisition, understanding how to derive at user behavior assumptions based on data on how/when/in what manner people are playing your game. Ultimately you need to find a way to put people into your game and understand how to make your game profitable.
Daniel Spiler: Understanding the player is key to being able to effectively sell to the player.
Jeff Spears: Also, and we’re hiring a marketing person, understanding how to ‘have a voice’ and represent the company is important. We will have someone being our consumer mouthpiece so writing skills and people skills in social forums (FB, Twitter, Pinterest) definitely help.
Daniel Spiler: Fantastic. It was great getting to chat with you and pick your brain for awhile.