‘In a rapidly growing and highly competitive mobile gaming market, a proper and efficient UA platform is key to success. And yet, it is still the quality of the game and the value we offer to players that matter the most,’ argues Anna Idzikowska our Chief Growth Officer.
Up until recently, Anna served as a long-time Head of Growth at Ten Square Games. As the area of her responsibility is key in the company’s strategy, in December 2020 Anna joined Ten Square Games’ Board as Chief Growth Officer. She shares with us her experience and knowledge on how TSG ‘smart growing’ philosophy works in practice.
– We like to picture this model as a triangle, where our business decisions are impacted by the constant product development, data-backed growth, and last but not least, new market opportunities. All these three elements go hand in hand to inform our growth strategy – underlines Anna Idzikowska.
The story of Fishing Clash, TSG’s flagship title, can serve as a great example of ‘smart growing’ strategy application. In 2020, the title gained more than 40 million new users, reaching a firm position amongst top 50 grossing games in Google Play Store and paving the way for its successful younger brother, Hunting Clash.
Let’s start with the product development of Fishing Clash. The game continues to rapidly grow in terms of new content, features and modes. It has been recently enriched with new features, as VIP tiers, survival skirmishes, battle passes and multi-hooks. In 2020 only, more than 200 new fish and 7 new fisheries were added to the game, over 300 live events took place on production, over 150 clan wars were played, and 12 billion fish were caught. This scale and quality of development allows the players to never stop engaging, as what they experience is increasingly intriguing.
While the game is designed to live long, an ambitious and data-backed growth is a must. UA is not about buying players. It is not a transaction where higher marketing costs simply convert to higher sales. In the f2p sector, the revenue comes not from the sheer number of players, but their willingness to engage in the product and find real value in it. This keeps us motivated to make sure we offer a long-term relationship to our players, and we don’t focus on quick, one-off entertainment only. Due to our strong and loyal player base, we are able to collect the best possible insights to fuel our player profiling and our growth through new players.
The next thing that sets TSG apart is the adaptability to new market situations and the appetite for calculated risks, which is the third, yet equally important line of the ‘smart growing’ triangle. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen people’s online behavior change quite drastically and it’s no secret this has been largely profitable for the gaming industry. When the first lockdown started and many companies pulled back their marketing spend, TSG decided otherwise and, with sinking UA costs, ramped up the Fishing Clash UA budget from US$2m to US$9m a month during the COVID peak.
The decision to increase Fishing Clash’ budget was obviously data driven, yet intuition and experience were both equally important to make the final decision. The fact that you base your decisions on data science does not mean there is no risk component nor need for constant testing and adjusting models. The data is the key starting point, yet it tends to give you hypotheses, rather than final answers.
– To take data-driven calculated risks, both intuition and experience are invaluable. With our well-oiled and experienced UA and Creative Teams, we managed to profitably go through the increase in budgets – says Anna Idzikowska.
As the pandemic drove UA costs down, considerably more traffic could be generated, which brought new players to Fishing Clash (up to 500k installations daily). This went together with some new risks, as the ‘old’ models were not enough to properly respond to the current opportunities. TSG kept testing and adapting its model to the new circumstances, which allowed for more spend and scale, while having the risk under control.
The well-calculated risk, based on data, vision and courage, brought impressive results. Fishing Clash had its most successful year in 2020 with over 40m new players, which is 2X more than the previous year. Even though budgets got adjusted again following increasing market cost, our UA budgets remained higher than before and the team consistently brings 3m players monthly to the game.
The pillars for achieving that all are twofold. First, we focus on building teams that are all about cooperation and we set common goals, rather than individual tasks and KPIs.
– As Ten Square Games has grown significantly in the previous years, we still have this start-up mentality where thinking on your feet, entrepreneurship, responsibility and ambition matter the most. At Growth division, which besides the Growth team also comprises sections of the R&D and BI teams dedicated to marketing, each team acts like a business owner who is ready to make bold decisions based on shared vision. Next to that is the work between teams and our close cooperation with the teams in our Product Division – says Anna.
The second factor is the budgets, which are not fixed in terms of production or marketing. This gives Ten Square Games a unique advantage in all three angles of the ‘smart growing’ triangle – whether you take product development, its data-backed growth or market response. Thanks to unfixed budgets, it is possible to explore any new business opportunities as they arise and quickly scale up the operations, as the successful use of the COVID opportunity for scaling up Fishing Clash showed.
– As we take decisions, we follow both data and instinct. We trust each other, so we are not afraid of taking risks and exploring new tools. This passion keeps driving us for more. With this know-how and experience, we are now able to scale our other products much faster – in particular Hunting Clash, which is already among around top 150 grossing games in US Google Play Store. This proves that the success of Fishing Clash is reproducible and we will use this strategy for other Clashes (Undead Clash) and sports games (Golf Royale) as well as 4 other new titles in our pipeline – says Anna Idzikowska.
This year, TSG has firmly set its sights on international development, with new roles being created and more people joining all the time, many from abroad, including Germany, Spain, UK, Romania, Italy, Russia, Ukraine and many more. Thanks to remote work, the company follows talent not location, casting its recruitment net worldwide, so geography is no limit for potential applicants. Recently, a new studio in Berlin was launched, with possibly more to come, as its active search for new M&A targets continues.
– Now, it is time to focus on the growth of tomorrow, learning from the growth of yesterday. The success of Fishing Clash has shown that ‘smart growing’ is working and we wish to take that into the future. Using our platform, everyone who shares our vision and values can grow smart with us – concludes Anna.
The article was originally published on pocketgamer.biz portal on May 5th, 2021.
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