Latest News & Updates

How to Market your Mobile Games in 2020

By Hannah Press on January 15, 2020 in Articles, Game Developers

With over 900,000 games on Apple’s App Store, there’s no doubt that the mobile gaming ecosystem is competitive. Marketers must constantly keep their app fresh on consumers’ minds, with the ultimate goal of having it featured in the App Store to drive downloads. Getting a user to install an app isn’t easy or cheap, especially when you’re convincing them to purchase an app. To put this into perspective, the average cost of acquiring a user who makes a purchase is more than $86 on iOS and $77 on Android. On top of that, just over 5% of global mobile gamers actually make in-app purchases.

Most game developers don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars at hand to spend on marketing. So the key question to consider is: how can you acquire players with a limited budget? Let’s take a deep-dive into five successful paid acquisition strategies to drive more players to your game. 

Data and Tracking

First, integrate a Mobile Measure Partner (MMP) into the game. This MMP will provide performance metrics, such as attribution, Lifetime Value (LTV), and Return on Investment (ROI). Network attribution tracking ties an acquired user back to a specific ad campaign with an associated cost. This way, marketers can understand the monetization of the user from the specific campaign with respect to the cost of the campaign. A MMP ultimately empowers analytical thinking about marketing, which is the basis of performance marketing. For any game developer that is considering launching a Skillz-powered game, the Skillz SDK has a mobile measurement partner baked directly into it. No need to go out and establish a new partnership!

Analytical Insight

After identifying which users are acquired from each marketing campaign, you can begin the process of optimization. In this phase, you compare the quality of different campaigns and allocate budget to the ones that showed the best performance. A well-performing campaign is not necessarily one that has cheap Cost per Installs (CPIs) nor is it one that has cheap cost per actions (CPAs). What we ultimately want to focus on is the return that you are getting from the capital invested. However, this does take some time, so looking at indicators of success like CPI and CPA can be helpful, but don’t base everything on them. 

After analyzing campaign results, generate hypotheses around why the top campaigns are performing the best. Then make iterations to test these hypotheses. Ideally, some of the tests will yield better results than the current best performer, enabling budget reallocation to further aggrandize results. This process of learning, testing, and iterating is what ultimately allows a game to grow in an efficient and stable manner.

Creative, Messaging, and Audience

Now it’s time to produce the creative. If you have a limited creative budget, consider experimenting with photoshop yourself. Testing a wide variety of creative across different ad types will ultimately result in honing in on the right message and creative.

A marketer should not only look at a creative’s total portfolio spend across Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) & Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), but they should also evaluate the entire funnel. Consider how clickable an ad is (CTR), how relevant the ad is Click-to-Install (CTI), and how well the ad communicates the value proposition (monetization rate). By analyzing all of these metrics, marketers start to have a view of the full funnel. Here are a few ways to interpret full-funnel results: 

  • High CTR, Low CTI — Click-bait; lots of clicks but not relevant thus no one installs your game
  • Low CTR, High Monetization Rate — Relevant to the right people, so this is not necessarily bad. Sometimes higher CPIs are an indication of quality traffic, which makes the initial investment worth it from an ROI perspective. 

Test a wide variety of messaging across creatives and audiences to determine the highest performing type of messaging. Break up messaging into categories and measure the performance in aggregate to understand where to focus efforts. 

Additionally, test a wide variety of audiences across creative and messaging to hone in on the right people to target for advertising. Keep in mind that creative and messaging can be audience-specific so it’s important to take an audience-first approach and iterate from there. 

Be Patient

Remember that users have a lifetime value, which is inherently not immediate. It will take time for user cohorts to stack up and generate revenue, so keep a keen eye on the spend efficiency.  Make sure not to waste dollars on poor-performing campaigns holding out for hope. If spending is solely focused on ROI-positive campaigns, eventually the marketing investment starts to turn ROI positive. Finally, the extra budget allows for more cash to be funneled into marketing campaigns, which ultimately drives more players into a game!

A Great Product

Even the best marketing plan won’t work on a sub-par product. So make sure to have an engaging game, make it fun, and ensure a positive player experience — and the LTV will come.  

This is one of the areas in which Skillz delivers the most value. The Skillz competitive tournament management system provides game developers everything they need to transform a game into a mobile eSport. With a full-stack SDK that includes a wide array of features, Skillz empowers game developers to better monetize their games in a way that doesn’t interrupt the player experience. 

More than 20,000 game developers are taking advantage of the Skillz competitive tournament management system. Skillz-powered games experience higher player engagement, retention, and ultimately, better more monetization. To learn more about how you can utilize our competitive tournament system to boost your game’s revenue, head to developers.skillz.com.

Skillz Hosts Panel in Honor of Latinx Heritage Month

By Hannah Press on October 14, 2019 in Articles, Company Culture

Last week, Skillz hosted a lunch-and-learn in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, featuring a panel of Latinx leaders in technology. Moderated by our CTO Miriam Aguirre, the panelists reflected on their connections with their cultures, relayed their professional experiences as Latinx leaders, and shared insights on driving diversity and inclusion in organizations. Skillz employees were grateful for the opportunity to hear unique insights on cultivating diversity in the thriving technology industry and look forward to driving more initiatives in the future. Learn more about our featured speakers below. 

Luis Madrigal | Engineering Lead @ Uber 

Luis Madrigal is a Client Platform Engineering + IOT Manager at Uber. He leads teams to create an IOT Center of Excellence by merging three major focuses: Client computing and their respective management systems; Mobile OS’s (Android, iOS, ChromeOS); and Product Mobility and IOT. Madrigal has worked at Uber for nearly six years after getting his start in technology as an IT Agent at Geek Squad. He went on to be a service engineer at Canon and grew into his first managing role at Arup

A gifted problem-solver with a customer service-oriented attitude, Madrigal is able to identify opportunities and execute projects with consistent success. He is the Diversity Co-Chairman at Uber and has been instrumental in getting several key diversity and inclusion initiatives, namely Los Ubers, off the ground. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Madrigal has harnessed his Latinx background to lead these projects with a global mindset. He is passionate about mentoring his team members to grow their careers and pursue their goals. 

Reflecting on diversity and inclusion efforts at Uber, Madrigal said, “We’re creating a framework of guidance so teams know how to go about exploring ideas in diversity and inclusion in relation to design and engineering. Because if you ask two people to draw a bicycle, they’re going to draw completely different things on a white piece of paper.”

Julia Figueiredo | VP of Global Gateway LATAM @ Silicon Valley Bank

As Vice President of Global Gateway LATAM at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), Julia Figueiredo helps innovators, investors and their partners achieve their global expansion goals. Originally from Brazil, Figueiredo uses her knowledge of the market and culture to aid technology companies in growing through partnerships, business development, sales, and marketing strategies. She began her career in corporate business development at GSVlabs and moved on to Evernote before entering her current role at SVB.

Figueiredo is a cofounder and board member of Latinas in Tech (LiT), a community of women from Latin America, Brazil and Spain who are living in the Bay Area and working at technology companies in the Silicon Valley. The group aims to connect with other Latinx women and support each other’s professional careers. Figueiredo has helped grow LiT  into a community of more than 2,000 women, hailing from over 12 countries and working at more than 30 of the top tech companies.

Pia Zaragoza | VP of UX & Accessibility Research & Insights @ JPMorgan

Pia Zaragoza is a researcher specializing in various consumer, enterprise, and fintech products. She has worked at companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, striving to develop new technologies to solve some of the world’s most complex problems. Zaragoza currently works at JPMorgan Chase and Co. as the Vice President of UX and Accessibility Research.

She got her start in technology at the New York University Interactive Telecommunications Program, spending two years exploring the intersections of design, engineering, and computer science. With a research grant from UNICEF Innovation, Zaragoza explored the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for humanitarian applications. She has presented her research at The World Science Festival, The Open Source Hardware Association Summit, The New York City Girls Computer Science and Engineering Conference, and United Nations Crisis Information Management Advisory Group.

Zaragoza has a strong connection to her Latinx background, using her User Experience (UX) design skills to consult Techqueria, a nonprofit that empowers Latinx professionals in the tech industry by building networking and career advancement opportunities. In her current and future endeavors, she strives to inspire awareness and discussion surrounding diversity to help organizations scale successfully.

As we reflect on the importance of cultivating diversity and inclusion in the thriving esports industry, it’s important to recognize the impact of language, culture and traditions that have played a formative role in the lives of our leaders. Thanks for joining us this month, and every month, in celebrating the cultural and professional contributions of Latin American communities to our lives.

Latinx Leaders in Gaming: Existing Brands

By Hannah Press on October 13, 2019 in Articles

According to Newzoo, the global esports audience will reach 453.8 million by the end of this year. As the booming esports industry increasingly takes over mainstream mass media and entertainment, and especially with the rise of mobile gaming, global brands will benefit by expanding their presence in the world of competitive esports. News and broadcast leaders can positively influence the connected and interactive future of entertainment by making esports coverage more accessible across the globe.

The following Latinx leaders are utilizing their skills and expertise in broadcasting and mobile to enhance the availability of esports for Latinx communities worldwide. 

Eli Velazquez, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, EVP of Sports Content

Eli Velazquez launched his career at Univision Communications, and transitioned to NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises as Senior Producer for the network’s first-ever Olympics coverage of Athens. His decorated background in journalism includes Emmy Awards™ for coverage of the Beijing and London Olympics in 2008 and 2012 respectively. Velasquez also executive produced the Rio Olympics in 2016, earning his 3rd Emmy™ for Outstanding Studio Show in Spanish. 

This year, Telemundo Deportes launched the first Spanish-language esports streaming channel in the United States, a testament to the growing popularity of organized gaming competitions. Competition coverage kicked off with the EA Sports FIFA19 FUT Champions Cup.

“The launch of Telemundo Deportes esports channel strengthens our leadership position in the esports space and gives us an opportunity to further connect with the Hispanic, multicultural gaming audience,” Velasquez said. He is excited to make a valuable impact on the connected future of entertainment by making esports coverage more accessible to the Latinx community around the world.

Javier Ferreira, Scopely Co-CEO 

Javier Ferriera is a digital media and technology professional with over 15 years of experience as a leader in the gaming industry. His gaming career began at Telefónica Mobile, after which he held executive positions at EA, Disney Interactive, and TF Artes Gráficas. Since joining Scopely in 2014, Ferriera has helped the company achieve accolades and recognition, including Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies,” Entrepreneur’s “30 Startups to Watch,” and Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000” as one of the fastest-growing companies in North America.

Ferreira loves working in mobile gaming as opposed to traditional gaming and media, because mobile businesses are data-driven and investments can be spread across multiple launches. 

“Mobile games have gone from being a smaller category in the gaming world to the dominant platform,” he remarked in an interview with VentureBeat. “We’re living in a world of mobile first, which is very different from where we were a few years ago.” 

With Ferreira at the helm, Scopely expanded into Barcelona this year, tapping into the tech hub’s high-quality technical talent pool. Mobile is the only truly connected platform in gaming and it can be harnessed to create more content across diverse categories for players around the world. Ferreira strives to use the power of mobile connectivity to empower accessibility for European markets, especially in the Latin American region.

Latinx Leaders in Gaming: Educators & Community Managers

By Hannah Press on October 5, 2019 in Articles

Video games have the unique power to unite people of all backgrounds in an immersive experience that can be enjoyed universally. With the rise of esports in all levels of education, from the PlayVS high school league to the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), players have growing opportunities to hone their skills and develop lasting bonds in an interactive and social community. Organized esports accompany better grades and rekindled aspirations, helping students develop valuable leadership and communication skills

Outside the classroom, gaming communities can further cultivate an environment of teamwork, positive communication, and constant learning for its members. This week’s featured Latinx leaders inspire and build inclusivity in gaming through their work with educational institutions, online gaming communities, and special interest groups.

Gracie Arenas Strittmatter, BioWare Technical Art Director

Gracie Arenas Strittmatter started playing video games in 1992 when her parents brought home a Super Nintendo. She enjoyed playing Super Mario World with her brother growing up, but she never imagined video games would become the driving force for her career. Today, Strittmatter is the Technical Art Director at BioWare, a division of Electronic Arts (EA) that creates role-playing and story-based sci-fi games. Strittmatter considers herself a professional problem solver. With her art and programming background, she helps design tools and troubleshoot issues with the artist’s best interests at heart. 

An accomplished professional with over 10 years of game development experience, Strittmatter  strives to support future developers at the College of Architecture’s visualization program at Texas A&M, where she and her husband, Willem, created an endowed scholarship for aspiring professionals in the growing gaming industry.

Bolstering her support for game development students, she led a workshop on navigating tech careers from junior to senior level at the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s LOFT Coder Summit in 2017. 

“Those of us who are already in tech need to be committed to setting an example that people can look up to,” Strittmatter reflected on the experience. “We can cultivate a network that will [ensure] greater success of Hispanics and Latinos in tech in the future, for generations to come.”

Sylvia Cristina Amaya, Event Manager & International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Board Member

Sylvia Cristina Amaya, an up-and-coming leader in the gaming industry, has worked at companies including Riot Games, Twitch, Discord, and Unity Technologies. Previously, she was the community manager for League of Legends and Pokemon Go. Amaya has built communities like these from the ground up, consistently interfacing with people from all walks of life.

As a gamer growing up, she sought out Latinx women on stage at conferences, panels and speaking on behalf of gaming. As a recent addition to the IGDA board, Amaya is advancing her dreams of expanding game makers’ reach in developing nations. She is also a co-founder of the IGDA Latinx in Games special interest group dedicated to increasing Latinx representation across the industry. Amaya aims to be an inspiration for more people of color and women in gaming to foster more diversity in the industry.

Latinx Leaders in Gaming: Game Makers & Content Creators

By Hannah Press on September 30, 2019 in Articles

A key element in driving representation of all people from all walks of life in gaming is giving diverse cultures visibility on-screen. Latinx features and characters are prominent in popular games including “Red Dead Redemption,” “Tekken,” and “Overwatch.” However, the majority of games lack representation from Latinx communities. 

Video game developers and writers from diverse backgrounds can enhance the industry by creating content that resonates with players spanning a variety of demographics. Today, we’re featuring two Latinx leaders in gaming, who have created content that represents their cultures through in-depth character development, complex storylines, and accurate landscape depictions.

Augusto Quijano, Drinkbox Studios Concept Lead

Augusto “Cuxo” Quijano is the Concept Lead of DrinkBox Studios, an independent game studio based in Toronto. Quijano was born in Mexico and moved to Toronto to study animation at Seneca College. He has been instrumental in creating Mexican-themed multiplayer Metroidvania action games, including “Guacamelee!” and “Guacamelee! 2.” In these exciting games, players control the luchador, Juan, exploring a hand-crafted world inspired by Mexican culture and folklore, while collecting character upgrades and overcoming adversaries in melee-style combat. 

In conceptualizing his game design, Quijano wanted to illustrate his ancestry. The luchador seemed like the perfect character, as it embodies the vibrancy and strength of Mexico. He encourages game studios and industry leaders to flex their creativity, amplify their voices, and promote diversity in gaming by highlighting Latinx culture.

“When [all] else fails, we can always rely on empathy,” Quijano said. “If you truly see yourself in the skin of your character, if you really understand them, if you get how they see the world, then others will too.”

Edgar Serrano, Lienzo Co-Founder & Director

Edgar Serrano didn’t expect to be at the forefront of his country’s gaming industry before the age of 30. Now, he’s the co-founder and director of Lienzo, the first Mexican studio to publish a game on all three major consoles. Serrano and lead programmer Adolfo Rico kickstarted their careers through game development for museums and contracts for advergaming brands. They founded Lienzo in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the pair began developing the world that would become “Mulaka.” 

In “Mulaka,” a 3D action-adventure game based on the indigenous culture of the Tarahumara, players explore landscapes of northern Mexico, while challenging giant scorpions and solving simple puzzles. Serrano was determined to stay true to his Chihuahua, Mexico roots, but experienced challenges with fundraising for game development. 

“If something is Mexican-made, you automatically think it’s low-quality,” he explained on a PAX East panel. “So, all the creators in Mexico, based on that belief, they journey away from our roots and our surroundings. And that’s why you don’t see games from Mexico that look Mexican.” 

Today, “Mulaka” is available on the Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. Creating a culture preserved through oral history, Lienzo took great care in collaborating with Tarahumara elders to bring the world to life. Serrano is committed to leading Lienzo to make more video games that showcase the rich culture of Mexico, foster diversity in the industry, and empower other developers to bring their visions to life.

Latinx Leaders in Gaming: Miriam Aguirre

By Hannah Press on September 15, 2019 in Articles, Company Culture

We’re kicking off Latinx Heritage Month at Skillz by featuring Latinx leaders in gaming and esports. As we reflect on the importance of cultivating diversity and inclusion in this thriving industry, it’s important to recognize the influence of language, culture and traditions that have played a formative role in the lives of our leaders. This month and every month, please join us in celebrating the cultural and professional contributions of Hispanic and Latin American communities to our lives.

Miriam Aguirre, Skillz Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

At age five, Miriam Aguirre emigrated from Tijuana, Mexico to South Central Los Angeles. She spent most Saturday mornings learning English from cartoons or playing video games with her cousins (sharing one Atari system). Aguirre gravitated toward math because it was a language she could understand, and it became the vehicle through which she communicated with teachers. As she grew up, she aspired to study aerospace engineering because she was fascinated with spacecraft. 

Aguirre went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), becoming the first person in her family to attend college. During her first week of classes, the aerospace department heads suggested students consider computer science instead, because the aerospace industry wasn’t as lucrative and held limited job prospects upon graduation. Aguirre took their advice seriously and signed up for a computer science course. She fell in love with software  engineering after just one class – due in no small part to her love of video games from an early age.

Through perseverance in a particularly competitive industry, Aguirre found a way to combine her love of games and passion for engineering to land her current role at Skillz. Joining the company in 2013 as the 11th employee, she has been instrumental in supporting diversity and inclusion efforts at Skillz, along with serving as an ambassador for Skillz in the Bay Area, Portland, and beyond. 

Aguirre has been featured in publications including VentureBeat and CIO Magazine for her passion and efforts to bring diversity to gaming and technology and spoken at numerous industry conferences, including Tech Inclusion, TwitchCon, Anita Borg’s Hopper x1 Seattle, and Lesbians Who Tech. She was also named to The Alumni Society’s Class of 2018, received the mBolden Champion of Women Award, and won the 2018 Timmy Award for Best Tech Manager.

Recently promoted as Skillz CTO, Aguirre is responsible for outlining the company’s technological vision, implementing technology strategies, and ensuring that our technological resources are aligned with our most pressing business needs. Skillz empowers anyone to embrace their inner champion by providing fair competition in an increasingly digital world. Game makers of all backgrounds need a better way to monetize, and with Aguirre’s leadership, the Skillz platform changed the paradigm by aligning the game maker revenue model with the player experience, so creators can build sustainable businesses doing what they love.

The gaming industry will continue to thrive as a result of the unique individuals that work each day to create diverse content and build inclusive communities. At Skillz, we hope to lead by example through promoting diversity and inclusion in our hiring practices, helping game makers of all backgrounds establish sustainable businesses, and connecting players worldwide to embrace their inner champion. 

If you’re interested in joining a passionate, diverse team that is defining the future of digital competition, head to our careers page and check out the open roles.

Diversifying Ad Spend Outside the United States — A Game Daily Connect Recap

By Hannah Press on September 15, 2019 in Articles, Game Developers

The proliferation of mobile devices is making gaming more accessible to anyone, anywhere. Mobile gaming revenue already surpasses PC and console gaming revenue, and the development of mobile gaming markets in Greater Southeast Asia and South America (and the continued growth of these markets in North America, Europe, South Korea, Japan, and China) will further tip this balance. 

This year, digital spend will account for half of the global ad market and 54 percent of the U.S. ad market. The continuing shift toward digital advertising makes it increasingly important for global brands to invest in international User Acquisition (UA). 

Today, we’re sharing a few tips on diversifying ad spend around the world from Skillz UA Manager, Justin Sampson, who was featured on a recent Game Daily Connect panel alongside industry professionals from Seriously Digital Entertainment and Jam City. Moderated by Abraham Leibovitz from Vungle, panelists discussed key industry trends and techniques for success by localizing creative, looking to areas with less advertising competition, and leveraging soft launches to help advertisers learn global markets. 

Identify Lifetime Value of a Customer

Player lifetime value (LTV) for a mobile game can vary based on geographical location. When deciding where to expand your marketing spend, assess how optimized your product is for each area with respect to those LTVs. 

For example, Skillz tournament entry fees begin at $$0.60. The U.S. dollar converts to about 72 rupees. In India, that buys nine cups of coffee, a round trip on public transportation, or a McDonald’s Big Mac. As a result, players in India may think harder about spending $1 compared to players in the United States. Wherever players are more cost-conscious, it’s wise to consider paying less to acquire them. 

Localize Games & Ad Creative

Localizing games and creative content is essential when diversifying ad spend outside the United States. The Skillz software development kit (SDK) is available in nine different languages, which enhances localization efforts and enables developers across the globe to build competitive esports. Our seamless integration process ensures game makers everywhere can build unique experiences for every kind of player.

Additionally, the creative team at Skillz is part of the larger user acquisition team, so it’s relatively simple to work together on localized ads for specific geographical locations. We consistently test different ads and measure their success based on geographic targeting. 

It’s also necessary to work with product and engineering on localization to determine potential product improvements and confidently increase our investment. We ask important questions related to the cost of localization and the potential gains from localizing marketing budget. 

Create an Expansion Strategy

A successful UA expansion strategy requires a sustainable and systematic approach. Use a trusted analytics platform to make smart, data-driven decisions to acquire and retain users. 

Put simply, our expansion strategy consists of three phases: 

  1. Test ads at a small scale with an existing U.S. partner 
  2. Increase scale (spend) with the existing U.S. partner
  3. Increase scale with localized (rest of world) partners 

Decide Where to Soft Launch

Skill-based games need a certain level of player liquidity to jumpstart the competitive environment. Like playing tennis against a wall, it’s less exciting to play a mobile game against yourself. Creating a competitive environment translates into greater monetization. Therefore, when deciding where to soft launch new games on the Skillz platform, we work to build enough player liquidity to support the level of matching required for a positive user experience in a competitive environment. 

In capturing a significant number of users from different countries, we can decrease the time it takes to match players. Think about catching a rideshare to work through Uber Pool or Lyft Line. If you’re awaiting a driver while there are few passengers requesting a ride, it will take a long time to be matched for the rideshare. If there are many passengers actively looking for a ride, you’ll get matched much more quickly! Similarly, with more competitors playing Skillz games and consequently less waiting time, the competitive experience becomes more accessible and enjoyable for players around the world. 

At Skillz, we aim to enable fun and fair digital competition for ALL of the world’s mobile gamers. We currently work with 20,000+ game developers, leveraging our patented technology to host over 3.5 million daily tournaments for 30 million mobile players worldwide. To learn more about us, visit www.skillz.com. To compete in Skillz games, visit games.skillz.com.

Hidden Pixel Sinks A Called-Shot By Launching “Pool PayDay” With Skillz

By Hannah Press on September 20, 2017 in Articles

Co-Founders, Mike Marr and Brian Goble met at a game developer conference and immediately knew they wanted to work together. In 2017, they co-founded Hidden Pixel with the vision of creating their own studio. Since then, they’ve developed multiple games and are a Skillz premier partner. They now own a game that is scaling week-over-week both in terms of Daily Active Users (DAU) and revenue, while simultaneously investing in launching new games at an accelerated pace. Let’s take a look at the amazing story that is Hidden Pixel.