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The Future is Operations: Why Mobile Games Need Backends


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The future of mobile gaming is in operations. It’s not enough to just have great gameplay — that’s table stakes now. Winning games need to be able to engage their players long after launch and keep them coming back for more. To do that you need a great live operations strategy and the backend tools to execute it. And while it used to be that if you wanted a backend for your game, you had to build it yourself, companies like PlayFab and others are now making it easy for everyone.

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The Future is Operations: Why Mobile Games Need Backends

  1. 1. The Future is Operations Why Mobile Games Need Backends James Gwertzman, CEO
  2. 2. “The single greatest predictor of success and of sustainable competitive advantage in this business is live game operations.” -- Owen Mahoney, CEO Nexon
  3. 3. Live games can be very sticky TOP 10 80% TOP 100 56% 70% 52% 40% 55% % of iOS and Android Games in the Top 10 and Top 100 that have been there for the last 12 months Source: AppAnnie
  4. 4. Build game Launch The old days…
  5. 5. Build game Build backend Launch Build tools for ops team Segment & target customers Deploy servers Business intelligence Offers & Promotions Update content Host in-game events Customer service Nowadays… Business intelligence User Acquisition
  6. 6. Promise & peril of live game operations • Launched 3/2/12 • Shot to top 10 • Servers crashed • Offline for 168 days • $27M lost revenue • Re-launched 8/17/12 • Top-grossing game for nearly 3 years LTD revenue: $150M+ Source: AppAnnie, NPD, ThinkGaming 6 Updated more than 45 times Rank history for top grossing games, iOS in United States
  7. 7. “We’re a technology company. We’re not really a game company.” -- Gabe Leydon, Machine Zone Bloomberg Business, March 2015
  8. 8. 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 Jan-04 May-05 Oct-06 Feb-08 Jul-09 Nov-10 Apr-12 Aug-13 Dec-14 May-16 New Features Added in Unity Releases Unity 1.0 Unity 2.0 Unity 3.0 Unity 4.0 Unity 5.0
  9. 9. Changing field of backend services Multiplayer Analytics Marketing Commerce Cloud logic Attribution
  10. 10. + Live ops tools and dashboards (mission control for the whole team) Back-end services (cross-platform, one-stop shop) + Integration with other partners (building out the full ecosystem) All-in-one platform to build, launch, and grow and more ...
  11. 11. Complete set of backend services • Player Accounts – Authentication – Profile Management – Account Linking • Data Storage – Per player – Per title – Per character (under one player) – Files / CDN delivery • Commerce – Catalog Management – Virtual Currencies – Player Inventory – In-game Purchasing – Receipt validation (Apple/Google/Amazon) – Marketing and Promotion • In-game Marketing – Push Notifications – In-game Messaging • Product Management – Analytics and Reporting – Customer Segmentation – Customer Support Tools – Abuse Reporting and Banning • Social – Friends Lists – Player Chat – Leaderboards – Game forum integration – Trading / gifting • Multiplayer – Photon integration (real-time / turn-based) – Matchmaking – Custom game server hosting – Server monitoring • Game logic – Server-hosted JavaScript The last API you’ll have to integrate into your game… 14
  12. 12. All-in-one platform benefits 15Better Faster Cheaper Developers • Best-in-class technology • Proven solution • Fully documented • Back-end engineering talent • Continual improvements • Baked-in best practices • Learn from other games • Available immediately • Less testing needed • No need to hire a new team • No up-front engineering cost • Volume of scale • Amortized costs Publishers • Share tools across games • Share players across games • Less risk • Training for new developers • Share lessons across games • All funding goes to game • No tech support costs 15PlayFab confidential
  13. 13. Trusted by hundreds of developers • More than 500 game studios using the PlayFab SDK • 16 titles now live (w/ more than 10 million total registered players) • Integrate at any point of your game’s life cycle 16
  14. 14. Built-in business intelligence PlayFab automatically captures the most important player events, as well as any custom events games generate. Data can also be analyzed by 3rd-party BI tools such as Tableau or direct SQL queries. All the data needed to increase engagement, retention, monetization Or exported via to hundreds of other 3rd-party services. Advanced analytics provides segments, cohort analysis, correlation, behaviors, and many other key monetization features. 17
  15. 15. Cloud Script PlayFab’s Cloud Script lets developers run server-based code without a dedicated game server. • Easy upload of JavaScript custom logic (C# coming soon) • Separate game logic from the client, allowing easy updates • Make changes to your game without re- certifying • Server authentication protects against client-side cheating 18 Applications include: • Granting player rewards • Validating player actions • Resolving interactions between players • Managing asynchronous game turns
  16. 16. Multiplayer • Tight integration w/ Photon – Write logic hooks in cloud script • Or host your own game servers – Manage and monitor servers and builds within the Game Manager – A combination of monthly leases and flexible auto-scaled virtual servers gives low-cost reliability 19
  17. 17. Easy adoption by any game developer 20 Full set of support resources makes it easy for any developer to quickly start using the PlayFab platform. Getting Started Guides SDKs for popular tools Full documentation + + + Full-time developer relations team
  18. 18. Questions? Stop by our booth or visit @playfabnetwork