We’re kicking into 2014 with style here at Social Point. Our team has grown to 185 exceptional Social Pointers from around the world, and amongst the newest to the fold is Adam Jaffe, our new VP of Marketing.
Adam joins our team from leadership and vision roles with key players like Social Gaming Network and Playtika. He’s had an dynamic and illustrious career that has spanned user acquisition, growth and digital marketing; and he has deep, expert understanding of the mobile and gaming landscapes.
Adam and family recently re-located to Barcelona, where he’s been busy taking the reins in marketing – and taking the measure of life at Social Point HQ. As he settles in, we caught up with him for a chat about gaming, marketing, dragons, monsters and life in the Catalan Capital.
Adam Jaffe who joined Social Point earlier this year.
Adam, a very warm welcome to Social Point. You’re joining us as VP of Marketing?
Yes, I’m heading up the global user acquisition across all platforms. I’m stoked to be here and to be working with such a dynamic and talented team.
OK, so let’s start with the obvious question. What is user acquisition?
In basic terms it’s about going out and finding players for your games. To do this we look to make the right investments within the right media outlets in order to engage with best quality users we can.
Six of the world’s seven billion people have access to a mobile phone. How do you know who to target?
You have to be really diligent to ensure that your messages are being seen by the right people. To achieve this we do research. A LOT of research. In fact, I would say most of our day is spent looking into who and how people are playing our games. Identifying trends in the data helps us to know what kind of affinity groups we can tap into to reach them – and ensuring that our messages are on target.
How does a game grow?
Well, everyone knows you can’t achieve 300 million monthly active players through paid campaigns alone. There has to be an element of virality – as well as an element of luck. Virality in gaming works differently between platforms like Facebook, with its social tendrils that permeate through the network and act as an addition to your UA efforts; and mobile, which is a more solitary experience with limited opportunity to expose players to your game outside of paid traffic. For a game to go viral, it has to contain something unique, something never seen before. Whether it’s a brand new style of game, or repurposing established gameplay with a new, or unique element. The game itself has to rock. In rocking, it will often go viral.
You mention mobile. What are the biggest challenges facing mobile game developers in driving virality?
A lot of virality in mobile is driven by word of mouth. Users themselves act as viral agents – or “contagients.” Achieving an organic lift is about delivering a product that people want to have, and want to share. And that’s based on the quality of the product. A game that is continuously upgrading and updating itself has a natural advantage. This iterative process in the gaming space is know as ¨games as a service.¨
Driving uptake of the game is much more dynamic when you are telling players – both new and existing – about new features and functionalities. Having a product that is constantly fresh is attractive to players and keeps them coming back for more.
Mobile Gaming is one of the fastest growing sectors there is. What are the keys to being successful within this space?
For me it’s all about the concept of Games as Service. The freemium model has really taken over as the preferred type of game monetization hook and that this has flipped the market on its head. It’s forcing game developers to produce better quality games and to be more innovative. Users have become more discerning and demand more from the product. In the past companies put out games they wanted to play, but today you see more and more companies developing games other people will pay to play. In short, to be successful in this space, companies must be flexible and adapt to new market trends. Those companies which are rigid will fail. In gaming there is no room for bureaucracy.
Do you see the gaming sector slowing down anytime soon?
No. We’re not inventing the wheel here. Gaming has been with us in one form or another throughout history. People like to play. The modern mass market for video games, heralded in by companies like Atari and Nintendo, has been around for only the last 30 odd years. What we’re seeing today is an evolution of that – play driven by the evolution of technology.
Today we are living in the era of mobile. Most people see their handheld as a basic necessity, never leaving home without it. As long as this remains true, games will also be a kind of necessity. Anyone with a mobile device is now also a potential gamer. Or put it another way: everyone is a gamer.
“The game has to rock. And in rocking, it will often go viral.”
Adam, what attracted you to Social Point?
Right at its core, Social Point is about building the best games possible. It’s all about the game. And that means it’s also about non-stop innovation, and learning. This company, unlike others, isn’t entrenched in the ideas of a bygone era. It’s young, next-generation and agile, with a can-do attitude that I respect and share. This makes it an exciting and demanding place to work. I’m also a huge fan of the games!
And how are you enjoying life in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a really fascinating place to be. There’s a collaboration between the old and the new here that chimes interestingly with the industry I work in. From our offices you can see the juxtaposition of the Sagrada Familia and the Torre Agbar – two examples of non-conformist, totally unique architecture, from totally different eras, within a kilometer of each other. This is a city full of design, personality and creativity and I’m loving getting to know it.