Redefining Casual Games - Game of Thrones Ascent


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Presentation about how the "casual" games market is evolving, and what we've learned from our experiences with Game of Thrones Ascent so far; discusses how media markets trend towards greater complexity, how publishers sometimes miss opportunity, and how Second Screen apps might be misfit in places.

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Redefining Casual Games - Game of Thrones Ascent

  1. 1. Redefining “Casual” Gaming: A Game of Thrones Ascent Postmortem Jon Radoff casual connect usa 2013 San Francisco – July 30, 2013
  2. 2. To transport the fans of the world’s most engaging universes into social and mobile entertainment systems.
  3. 3. • Launched end of Feb, 2013 • Approaching 2 million instal (July 2013) • CPI: around $0.01/user to d
  4. 4. Who built Game of Thrones Ascent? Jon Radoff – founder of multiple Internet and entertainment startups, ad networks, analytics, infrastructure, etc. 100% in-house team with background building MMO, AAA and “casual” titles (Star Wars the Old Republic, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Zoo Tycoon, Adventure World, CafeVille)
  5. 5. Distribution: Social Networks Customer Acquisition: Social channels & advertising Key Competitive Advantages: rapid duplication, analytics platforms, cross- promotional networks Economic Model: cheap product development, huge marketing/advertising outlay Distribution: Social Networks along with tablets and mobile devices. Customer Acquisition: large fan- bases, media partnerships Key Competitive Advantages: higher production values, licenses/franchises Economic Model: larger product investments; more capital-efficient acquisition
  6. 6. Gameplay features in Game of Thrones Ascent • Resource management • Town development • Crafting hierarchy • Alliances • Player vs. Player • Episodic content tie-ins
  7. 7. Gameplay features in Game of Thrones Ascent • Dialog-driven quests • Alignment • Social interactions via quests
  8. 8. Is this “midcore” gaming?
  9. 9. Jon’s definition of midcore gaming: A way of bundling the natural evolution of the current casual game market in a way that it is understandable to investors and executives.
  10. 10. In other words, “midcore” isn’t a market in the usual definition.
  11. 11. All media markets evolve….
  12. 12. Television has grown more complex over time: Source: Everything Bad is Good for You, Steven Johnson, 2005
  13. 13. Game of Thrones itself is an example of how the mass market is receptive to fantasy themes when packaged with sophisticated, character-driven storytelling. So-called “Midcore Games” are this trend happening in the casual games market.
  14. 14. Evolutionary Gameplay Motivations
  15. 15. Another trend: proliferation of media consumption devices and the emergence of “second screen” applications” Photo credit: Flickr / David Jones
  16. 16. Second Screen is good for information-rich media where accessing alternate views and information augments the viewing experience, such as: • Sports • Reality TV • Infotainment
  17. 17. But “Second Screen” isn’t good for games and isn’t good for dramatic TV… Both of these forms of media benefit from having a highly-engaged audience that’s so engrossed that any distraction takes away from the experience.
  18. 18. Experiences = More Happiness than Things Leaf van Boven and Thomas Gilovich. “To Do or to Have? That is the Question.” American Psychological Association. 85.6 (2003): 1198. Reprinted with permission.
  19. 19. “Another screen” (at another time) can extend an experience: • Continue the entertainment experience elsewhere • Provide means of engagement between TV content • Maintain high, focused engagement whether consuming a game or a drama • Reinforce community
  20. 20. Is this the digital living room? Flickr Image by Josh Bancroft
  21. 21. …or is this the new digital living room?
  22. 22. Key opportunities: • We saw an opportunity for bringing to the world of social games what Bioware had done for single-player RPGs. • Opportunity to form a continuum between TV watching and a gaming experience • If people liked a more sophisticated show like Game of Thrones, we thought they’d like a more sophisticated game.
  23. 23. Television SocialMobile Episodic television drives constant re- engagement and interest in new content. Newer mobile entertainment platforms such as iPad allow for rich, frequent engagement. Social communities exist around episodic content—a perfect match for games that allow for rich social interaction.
  24. 24. Just one problem…
  25. 25. Every publisher we spoke to in 2012 thought we were out of our minds.
  26. 26. “Social gamers don’t want to read.”
  27. 27. “Social gamers just want to click things— they don’t want to have to think.”
  28. 28. “Can you make it more like Clash of Clans?”
  29. 29. Decisions: • It is better to be loved by a dedicated, loyal audience of fans than to be a passing triviality for a larger group. • To align company and product vision—and stick with it. Story would be a competitive advantage for us.
  30. 30. Our vision means we need to be great at three things: #1) Need to be great at being authentic to source material. #2) Need to be great at integrating story elements into a social gaming experience. #3) Need to be great at creating an agile platform for integrating new content on a regular basis.
  31. 31. Fantastic place to lose myself for a couple of hours! WOW This is one of the best games ever - if not even the best of all! Anyway, it is hands down the best game I have played on Facebook. I joined the game the day it came out and have nothing but praise for it. the only Facebook game that I found I got addicted to even with the little bugs it has.
  32. 32. Conclusions: • Games are growing more complex—not simply a new “midcore” market, but more sophisticated overall. • Players will embrace story-driven content when it is in a universe they love. • Players want to inhabit worlds through multiple forms of media.
  33. 33. Thank you! Jon Radoff Founder/CEO, Disruptor Beam Twitter: @jradoff