Episode #22: Launching Hit Mobile Games with Sophie Vo

Episode 22 of our podcast, Mobile Growth and Pancakes, is all about gaming, as Sophie Vo, Studio and game lead at Voodoo shares her secrets.

In this episode of Mobile Growth & Pancakes, Esther Shatz is joined by Sophie Vo, Studio & Game Lead at Voodoo. Sophie talks about hyper casual and casual games, creating a synergy between marketing and product teams, and creating hit gaming titles.

Check out all the other episodes of Mobile Growth & Pancakes here

To connect with Sophie:


00:46 – Sophie Vo intro & career
04:45 – Hyper casual and casual games comparison
10:26 –  How to create a synergy between marketing and product teams 
15:32 – The process of launching a game
22:09 –  The risks of testing early in hypercasual and casual games
26:09 – Finding “hidden gem” games with high potential
29:40 – Finding and expanding audience markets
36:34 – Quickfire round

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Five things you must know about Custom Product Pages

    What I would advise in regards to product development, especially in a game that can last for years, is don’t try to copy the neighbor

    Sophie Vo

    Key Takeaways:

    Sophie has been working in the gaming industry for almost 12 years and has experience working across Europe in companies like Wooga and Rovio. She has also started her own studio in Berlin to focus on casual games, because hyper casual has a low entry barrier, is very demanding, and success is short-lived. 

    In terms of the difference between the marketing of casual and hyper casual games, Sophie says that marketing is optimized around a low CPI for hyper casual games. The marketing of casual games is based on a story and optimized around LTV, engagement and retention.

    Sophie advocates a balance between using market trends and data from the product usage to prioritize changes to the game. Both sides have to adjust and there’s no fixed formula. 

    Sophie also backs the idea of early testing for marketing appeal of games. Sometimes, it’s better to launch quickly even if the game is just “good enough”. If the concept of a game is timeless and novel, then you have to be pragmatic about iteration because game development teams tend to lose motivation if they work on the same game for a long time. 

    Sophie states that it’s easy to steal a competitor’s hyper casual game idea during an early test. For longer-lasting casual games, however, Sophie advocates for teams to find and capitalize on their competitive advantage because it’s hard to replicate a complex game before its next iteration comes out.

    Sophie talks about using multiple sources of qualitative and quantitative data to spot hit gaming titles.

    Sophie shares a story of a time when her team worked with a user research company to create and refine user persona for one of their games.  Having a better pulse of a certain audience helps the marketing team target that audience better and later helps in expanding the game.

    Sophie says that if the game develops popular side features and begins to attract multiple types of audience, it’s a good time to decide on expansion. 

    Sophie recommends that beginners in mobile growth should play a lot of games. Her favourite mobile growth resource is Mobile Dev Demo, a website by Eric Seufert. She would love to take the project lead of Project Makeover out for lunch. She loves pancakes with strawberries, blueberries, ice cream, and maple syrup.

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      Full Transcript:

      Esther: Welcome to Mobile Growth & Pancakes, a podcast by Storemaven. We break down how and why mobile apps grow. In each episode, we invite a mobile growth expert onto the show to break down a specific mobile growth strategy; how it worked, why it worked, and what they would do differently. I’m your host Esther Shatz. Welcome to mobile growth and podcast. I’m joined today by Sophie Vo. Sophie, can you introduce yourself for everyone?

      Sophie: Yes, sure. Hi everyone. I’m Sophie and I’ve been working in the industry for the past 12 years. In my experience, I worked in mostly mobile free-to-play companies. I worked in different places in Finland, in Berlin. I previously also worked in Berlin went to Finland, back and forth also in France. The name of the company I worked at Gameloft, Wooga, Rovio, and now I’m at Voodoo leading a studio that I opened a year and a half ago in Berlin to start a new venture inside Voodoo to explore casual games as Voodoo is more know for hyper-casual games.

      Esther: Amazing. Before we jump into things, what led you to expand past hyper-casual? Obviously, it’s been a huge, huge trend and huge success in the industry and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. What’s leading you to push towards more of a casual area?

      Sophie: I would say, I’m still here more also from the point of view of the company as Voodoo is very established in hyper-casual, hyper-casual is definitely a very viable business model that came actually more in the front the past two, three years and making revenue mostly from games executed really fast, released really fast, very low CPI and revenues from ads. That’s the business model.

      When we look at things in the video context in the market, it’s very demanding. It’s not a very also high barrier of entry for hyper-casual because once you have a hit and you release, everyone can copy you quickly because it can be executed so fast. It’s not a secret tech so it’s really time sensitive, and to find what will work you have to test a lot of ideas. Hyper-casual also is very intense in the sense that every week you test many prototypes, you see what sticks and the ones that have a low CPI and a good LTV make the business case for payback within a week then I’ll launch quickly.

      In this context then it’s very demanding for companies, whether it’s Voodoo or any hyper-casual company to survive in the long-term, that means you need to generate hit quickly all the time. I can definitely say Voodoo made the success for sure not based on luck but with a very big network of developers who really can create great hyper-casual games and releases quickly.

      However, it doesn’t give a certain serenity in the long-term where from the moment we start to miss a hit in a month then it starts to create a bit more insecurity. Not panic but a bit of a threat for the future because as a contrast for casual games as we know, making the revenue is based on long-term engagement, inner purchase, like a really engaged audience. Once you have these hits, it can stay for years and actually support the whole company.

      As a company, it makes a lot of sense moving a bit away or expanding from intensity of hyper-casual where you need to come up with the hit all the time to something a bit more serene and long-term that could actually ensure the viability, stability of a company over years.

      Esther: For a start, I think that ties in up well with the topic you’re quite familiar with when we look at product to marketing. I think with hyper-casual, you’re looking for that quick hit. It’s a product that you release out into the wild, you release your marketing, you let it run as fast and then you move on to the next thing. Whereas when you’re looking at a casual game, both teams are maintaining some kind of long-term strategy. You’re having releases, you’re iterating on the game, you’re changing your messaging, you’re aiming for new audiences.

      How do two teams like this let’s take it in the long run, but KPIs tend to be different, the way you approach the market is different. How do you marry these two concepts together?

      Sophie: That’s also a big challenge. My main experience is casual games so I definitely come with a different knowledge and even approach of launching a game when operating in a hyper-casual company. I would say there are some other labs here between casual and hyper-casual where I would say this phase, I think our mentality to testing fast what you plan to launch is very key especially marketability is a big, big topic. You can have the best game in the world but if you cannot market it then you’re done. That’s the first thing to verify really early on.

      I would say we’re both doing the same strategy like when you develop a casual game like in our studio and we started to prototype the first one we were already putting it out to look at the CPI and the target market and see a signal of early performance. At least so we’d know that we’re not starting with a niche product that we’ll start with a high CPI and then we’ll never be able to make up for our payback. That’s things that we take from hyper-casual. I’ll say where the challenge is, however in hyper-casual, you optimize everything around low CPI.

      The game basically to release, you need to have a good D1D7. Maybe I would say D1D3 retention is just enough. Playtime, you put the ad system, framework et cetera but CPI even to [unintelligible 00:07:05] level can make a big difference in the revenue and the business case. All the marketing efforts are towards optimizing CPI to lowest level and where also it’s pretty straightforward. The creatives are basically the game. In hyper-casual, you record a rough of the gameplay and that’s basically a creative. You then maybe tweak some elements but what you see is what you get. It’s a very straightforward marketing strategy.

      As a contrast for casual games, it’s not that straightforward because the game is much more context, reach, and just showing the gameplay may not be enough when you look at casual competition, you show more the fantasy of the game, you show the dream of the game, the story, what it could look like after three years so you show the promise in the long-term. That is also a different skill, a different way of approaching marketing, and like in creatives, even when we’re targeting hyper-casual, it’s very broad. There’s no targeting at all.

      Casual, I would argue depending on the type of games you’re making, I definitely need to know a bit about your audience, who you design the game for. Then also casual is very optimized around the profitability, not just a low CPI. I can give examples here. When we do testing on a casual game, of course, we can chase for the lower CPI and show creatives that will have a lot of clicks, installs, but in the end probably also we see a lower LTV engagement, because it’s a bit sometimes misreading. It doesn’t match exactly to what the game is, and in the end, it doesn’t make sense to just optimize marketing around the lower CPI where in the end what you want to get is the profitability and the return of your spends.

      The model here is like what the payback time, for example, in hyper-casual could be under three days then you have your cash back, for example, or seven days. In casual, you will not see your money back until a certain time so you have to invest a lot upfront. It’s based much more on projections, LTV estimates, like how is the curve long-term retention of your game, and how much you’re willing to invest, and be patient to wait for it to come back. I would say this is the main challenge like this. The sense of time is very different in hyper-casual to casual. Like just the model–

      Esther: Yes, absolutely.

      Sophie: When you think of payback it’s like, “Okay, I know that I will win this back. In a week, I can be serene and reuse this cash for the next game.” In casual, you’re more in debt for a while. Even development takes a bit longer time to develop the game where hyper-casual in a month you have your hit. In casual it could be, I don’t know, six months, 12 months, depending on how long you’re in soft launch to iterate the game. It’s a different mindset in terms of a financial model, that I would say where the challenging requires a bit of discussion, education from both sides to look at these models very differently.

      Esther: I think it’s one of the things that historically challenges the ability to optimize a casual game. Because you have on the marketing side, you’re looking at the performance and as real-time as you possibly can. Sometimes you’ll have an ad that, like you said, it’s driving clicks, it’s bringing that traffic but if you don’t have a player who’s eventually– It’s not the download it’s the in-app purchase that’s what we’re looking at much more in casual. Then you have, I find areas where it’s very easy to clash because you’re saying, “Well, this is what brings the most market appeal so add it into the product.” And the product is saying, “Well, this is what the product is, so update your marketing.” I think one of the question is who gets to be the driver of that decision? When you see that there’s a mismatch between what the audience is looking for and what they’re actually getting in the game. Who wins? Who wins that battle? How do you navigate that process of, how do we create this synergy between our two sides?

      Sophie: You’re touching a really, I would say, a very current point that is at the lips of many marketing and product teams because it’s a constant debate. That’s also in the phase we are in at the moment we were getting soft launch. Where we have also often regularly this basic, “Okay, this is on product side, this is what we want to show, we are in marketing we have to look at performance.” Of course, it’s not black and white and a good middle ground we have found, and I think it’s a way as well to go where you have to look at a different strategy, a marketing strategy, and the performance of these different strategies.

      Let’s say in a game casual that attracts team audience, simulation audience, and you use the known marketing strategy so higher CPI probably, but the creative resonates with the audience. We see what [inaudible 00:12:28] of the game they’re engaging over similar products, and no surprises when they get into the game, and they will probably engage and spend, et cetera. That’s a track we know. I think one that is a good opportunity to consider and we see as well even big companies like Clerics, others as well, trying all types of ads. We can look at it and it’s like, “Oh, it looks misleading.” Then the strategy is to add the minigames of the creatives inside the game so then people can actually find it.

      It’s a patch, I don’t know how much it performs but it’s a patch that I would say, could make sense. I would love to experiment that more to understand how it works. I think what is important here, now I look at more ad revenues and maybe in your strategy of expansion in marketing you will acquire maybe lower quality of players with lower CPI creatives that drive traffic installs. Maybe the way these people will engage with the product is also at the level of a CPI. I mean by that in the same way of hyper-casual models, maybe they will engage with ads very early on.

      This would be even better to have actually segmented journeys in the game based on the player behavior. Let’s say the score that are required more in a hyper-casual way with some creatives that are not exactly the game, maybe they will play for three days, but they engage a lot with ads and maybe then they pay back for the cost. I think there are some opportunistic segments to look at when you try to acquire a different audience. Then it’s just about looking at the performance efficiency, which one makes sense finding the sweet spots. I’m quite open, I would say on being on product side, to definitely try a lot of things on marketing to lower the CPI. Then we have to really look at the performance of the segments, and how do we monetize for different strategies. Maybe in-app purchase is not the way for this, maybe lower quality, when I say lower quality in-app purchase, but maybe ads, for example. Being exposed to a lot of ads could be the strategy that works better.

      Esther: Basically, you’re finding the balance of what marketing trends can teach you, combined with what’s actually happening in the product. Where is it possible to adjust the product? Versus where this is not an area that we’re able, for not able to create an ad-based structure. That’s not how the game is working then, all right, it’s great that this has the best CPI, but it’s not going to cut it for how we move forward. I think that makes a lot of sense of having both sides be able to adapt to some medium. Where it’s not just product saying, “Brittney, this type of user now, and this is the product, this is what you have.” It’s not marketing saying, “Well, this is who’s coming, then figure it out and make it work.” Which I think makes a lot of sense. Let’s talk a little more about the process of launching a game because I think it’s something that a lot of companies fall into two categories. One is they spend very little work optimizing that soft launch phase, where they’ll focus entirely on product or entirely on marketing. Or you’ve companies who could get stuck in the years-long soft launch or, constantly pushing back the roll date. What do you think is the right way to make this process efficient? What are the things you need to answer in a soft launch before you’re ready to move to our launch?

      Sophie: It’s a very tricky question, I think in both this is a new strategy works. I would say at the very beginning, I like to approach for development always, what are your riskiest assumptions? When you start a product, if you go like completely brand new then what do you need to verify quickly. Let’s say for something very innovative, that is not really proven I would definitely test from the beginning do marketing appeal. Because when you start to set on a theme or style setting, and when you don’t want to do risking at the end of the journey. When you find out that your game is just too expensive, or players too expensive to acquire.

      Esther: Basically, you want to make sure you don’t spend a ton of money developing a game that doesn’t have the market appeal to justify that.

      Sophie: Yes. I think the product-market fit is really important at the beginning. Of course, I wrote a piece about that. It’s not because you have a low CPI at the beginning, but you have a guarantee to have it low later in development six months or 12 months after when you develop it. It is not at all a guarantee. However, it’s very clear that if you start with the high CPI versus [unintelligible 00:17:29] that when you try again that it will be much lower. At least it helps you eliminate early all concepts that might be a little too niche or too oversaturated that you’re competing directly against big players, and you will not match here their spending in marketing or even the ability to have a better product. That’s something I would test early on, no matter what is the situation.

      Then there are different schools, of course, of soft launching and where you go quick and dirty and you release. Then maybe you crash in the way because you’re not set, unfortunately, to scale the game and operate it for years in live ops, or when you’re patching it. I’ve worked on games like that, where they were launched quickly and then I was part of it. Unfortunate live ops teams look at the query and refactoring everything just to make it work. It’s not fun for the teams coming after. I think here is important, what is the time-sensitivity to define that? If you’re working on something really, really innovative, I don’t know, Supercell model, you’re confident that this is something that will be big no matter what the time, the trend because you’re bringing something really new. Maybe it’s worth taking the time, but when there’s a trend, I don’t know, for a while there was all these [unintelligible 00:18:56] or such launchers also an emergence of match games. I would argue here that before or in the party is quite important because from after awhile if the market it’s saturated with the new trend, then you end up as well with a very high CPI.

      Esther: I think there’s an example you just reminded me of you mentioned Playrix they have the famous ads. I guess in our industry now the minigames have ‘save the girl and help her out.’ I think it was about maybe it was a year ago maybe it was last, where a studio launched an entire game concept around ‘save the girl.’ That’s time-sensitive, right? Because you’re looking to capitalize on this trend that players established, they soared to the top of the charts as soon as they did. That’s something where you’re saying you have to be stricter with yourself about timing and you can iterate after and optimize after.

      Sophie: Yes. You have to know if time is actually a factor here of success or not. If it is you have to be pragmatic on launching quickly. I mean, even we find ourselves as well, like not taking too much time and trying to over polish everything and launching and just having good enough basically to get ready and scale the game. Also, the other thing to keep in mind is I think also about team motivation. In my team, I have people who have worked in big companies like Media King, and after a while, some of them, of course, are tired to work on games for one, two years, and these games in launch, and they just worked on one or two titles over the past five years.

      It’s exhausting and now there’s more hunger, I would say, to release and test a lot of games out, see what happens and invest in a game if one makes that traction. I think there’s also another dynamic now where game teams are a bit tired actually of this long journey, where you’re not sure and do you have the energy to go for another round again, like almost console development, with console development, you ship the game eventually, Free-to-Play is like you work you invest in and when you stop, and it is really hard emotionally.

      Esther: Such a good point, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone bring up internal, like, you have KPIs that you decide on measuring but it’s a really good point that if you’re going to have a great game, and one that can maintain a life cycle, you need a team to support it. If they have no energy left that I’ve had, we’ve worked with a lot of apps and concept to we all hit that stage of just like, oh, this game again, I can’t believe we’re still live, and we’re still adding these. It’s really important if you can’t keep people excited about a game, there’s no promise of the end, right?

      It’s not like no matter what, at the end of the day, you have a game that really hits. You might never launch well, you might get scrapped really soon after, it’s demoralizing. A very good point. Do you ever worry about when it comes to earlier testing? Do you worry at all about exposure and the audience being seeing a game before it’s ready when it’s in a rougher stage before you prepare press announcements? What’s that, like?

      Sophie: I think it’s always a risk and there are different practices in the industry where you launch under a dark label and we know where it’s not the brand of the company but it’s just even like some of us will launch on our developer account. For example, I have myself as a developer account and we test quickly ideas like that. There’s some mitigation, but not fully ways of preventing it, especially in hyper-casual. There’s a lot of watch from studios to each other to Novi accounts and copy quickly.

      The thing is in hyper-casual, it makes a lot of sense. It’s very strategic, if you can copy earlier than your competitors, there would be testing, it does the same thing within a week, and you can still have your person [unintelligible 00:23:13] away. I would say for casual games, you can still get the idea early, but the more and that’s what I would advise when approaching a product development, especially a game that can last for years. Don’t try to copy the neighbor because in the end you’re just competing directly.

      It’s easy to replicate and copy and for each team really to identify what is your competitive advantage. It could be in the tech in the way you do the game. It can be in the system that is built behind the game that is very hard to see actually. The backend more than the front end. It could be also in your team composition, how passionate or dedicated they are in the game and the soul they create around the game.

      I think it’s really important when launching a game or making a game. Yes, at the end of the day. The ultimate goal is to make revenue but what are you bringing here to the market and focusing on this competitive advantage that only your team can have or can lock for a while. I think this is what also protects either of the game the way you’ve done it or the IP and you can see the games that are really easy to replicate and the games that are really hard to replicate.

      I would even say Supercell games after the launch is really hard to copy because there’s so much balancing iteration and even the skills of a team behind that. Good luck for someone to replicate the success to the level. I think it’s doubling down really on your strength as a team when you make a product and you will always be seen a bit too early. If you have again, like in hyper-casual or hybrid-casual, a time sensitivity then you’d rather launch quickly right before you are copied and lose your market opportunity. That depends really on the context now.

      Esther: Interesting. Basically, if you’re developing a game that really has the power that you should be developing for, as long as you’re developing, you have to assume or hope, I mean, maybe that’s a flag for yourself, if you don’t have the thing that makes it impossible to copy within a week that somebody is seeing your title, Supercell is a great example. I mean, outside of just the game mechanics, they put such, there’s such a world, there’s such a personality to their games, it’s not something that you could just create this and this is why they’ve maintained such as their apps maintain those positions.

      You have to be honest with yourself, which is hard. I think especially when you’re in a product of you know what makes your game special a lot of the times but externally to the market. Isn’t as special as you think it is, it’s a hard thing to come to. Do you think there’s a way, how do you assess that, when do you know that you have something really worth dedicating time? How do you say to yourself, this is something that I know has the right potential? I know it’s special, I know. It’s not replicable.

      Sophie: Part of the practices as well. At the beginning, when it does marketability, it’s already I would say one point of data you can use and virality as well is a good indicator. You have a game early on, with a concept, the setting, et cetera but there’s a good word of mouth, virality. That’s kind of some signals already that you have something interesting that brings something new in the market like the freshness, and player feedback, I work a lot with player feedback. For example, in our game, when we tested it for a while, and soft launched, we added the in-game survey.

      Then we collected player feedback over time, we have 1000 answers by now. We ask questions like, what is it that you like in the game or what is the best part you like and why? A lot of people, for example, would say, I’ve never seen a game like this. It’s like its own category, or I ask questions, what other similar games have you played that is like our game? People would name similar games but people would say also, I cannot name any, because it’s unique in its way. You start to have signals like, okay, we created actually here something special.

      You look also at our retraction like they want retention, playtime, they need playtime. If you have a daily playtime that is about 45 minutes, it shows a very good sign of engagement when you don’t have yet the matrix. When people really care. Also, you can look at community feedback. For example, as well, with the game we’re making, we see no currency, like people who are genuinely caring about helping, almost they want this game to happen. It’s like, okay, take my time, I’m going to give feedback, I will help you develop this game, really, I want this game to exist.

      It was also like caring from the community that’s all taking qualitative data, quantitative data mixing in all or you start to see signals that you created something that really in the eyes of your players brings value somehow to them. That’s really important and I think, when you create a product, whether it’s in games or any other category, if you bring value in the perception of players, it will always translate in business, because that’s what people buy in the end, they buy something they value.

      If you’re doing the same, a little better than your neighbor, you’re not necessarily adding values, but you have really to understand your players like what do they care about enough that they would perceive this value in your product? Sometimes, it’s not about just, I don’t know, adding a new mechanic. Sometimes it’s about the whole theme and setting. Sometimes it’s about adding depth in the story, like a story they care about, instead of, obviously, the story that we have seen multiple times.

      Maybe, I don’t know, I’m just throwing a goal here but the people are tired about the cheating stories now, maybe they want something a little deeper, and especially during COVID time, maybe people will like another type of stories that are a bit more positive and not so dramatic. It’s about really understanding what people value and care about and making it a new product.

      Esther: How do you pick, how do you go about getting your early player market? Whether deciding the regions that you look at if you’re hand selective or if you just kind of throw out a beta and see who signs up. What’s the right way to find an audience who’s going to be indicative of who you’re looking for, without maybe creating too much bias in a direction that you don’t want to be moving in.

      Sophie: Yes, that’s really important as well, early development. I work a lot with user research. I’ve been using a user research company called [unintelligible 00:30:13] I think they are a bit known by now and we work with them very early on as well, where I didn’t want to leave it to chance. We made a game, we had an audience in mind, we even like, drew some personas. But if they were made up by our team, and I was like, I am not a user researcher, and it’s made up, they are not really real people. I want to work with the user researcher, where it’s based on real data, things that we collected from games that exist, and what we did with them. We competed with them in the dashboard, basically all the games that we think are our benchmark. Then they could actually as well like, draw for us the persona out of these games, from the competition and that helped us to identify, okay, this is our audience, and we don’t have to guess it.

      They’re in this demographic, that’s the type of hobby that we see they care about, these are the values they have, and we just build the whole product around it. When we had to test our marketing early, same thing here, we tried broad, but also we tried targeted to really what it was just in comparing the performance of the group and targeted and is very clear, actually, that, again, is very well designed for this audience. It’s important you know, what you’re doing with your marketing, if your game is mass market, like hyper-casual, fine, just go broader. But it matters, actually, if your game is designed for a certain audience, and we wish that you didn’t pick, of course, an audience that is too niche.

      That’s also what we wanted to make sure of, by looking at market data like in this category, what is the potential like size of the audience interested in that type of games to or looking at category. When you go out there, marketing, you make sure that you go find these players wherever in the target market, country, all the demographic or point of interest, to make sure that it verified, have you designed the right game, at least for this audience at first. Of course, what you try to do later is to expand the audience. But it’s really important at the beginning to make sure you had designed the right game for your core audience, the one that basically will make most of your spendings and revenues and later expand.

      Esther: I think that’s also an area that’s interesting. Once you’ve designed you’ve had your launch, you’ve hit your success, you’ve found your group, you’re comfortable and you’re stable. There’s the question of how much does the game need to evolve? Both in terms of our existing audience, are they expecting something different? Obviously, the mobile space, it’s saturated, it’s heavy, one new game comes out, and it can set expectations on something else that’s changed something as huge as COVID can hit and it changes the nature of the way people play games. How much do you feel that a product should be pivoting towards expanding audiences verse, sticking, and catering to it? How much are you willing to change a product just to reach newer audiences or to optimize for an audience that maybe you’ve already been with for a long time?

      Sophie: Yes it’s a good point. I think it’s really important these days, as well, if you want to be valuable in the long term, to really think of escape– [clears throat] Sorry to rethink already of the scalability of the game. Of course, at the beginning, you want to make sure that it covers enough of the market segments with your core product and core audience. But over time, this is what live ops is for as well you start to expand in different points of interest. I think a game like for me that is fascinating started to grow in the charts is Project Makeover.

      Originally, yes, it looks like you makeup game, puzzle, et cetera. But when you have renovation, makeup, fashion, and it covers a lot of points of interest and overlap, where different audiences can come to the game for different points. I think it’s a great case actually here of product marketing. I like I don’t know makeup, this is the only game with makeup. But it’s out there with a puzzle, hybrid genre and I actually like more renovation, like in Playrix games when I can also go to this game, or I like to dress up style, and when I go to this game and it has also its unique style. I think a way you can expand and not necessarily pivot your product.

      I think it’s important to keep the core but really expand is like side features that will support different audiences that can have overlap, I don’t know, if you need to add some puzzle elements, then you start to attract also puzzle audience. If you start to add the simulation part or social features, so it’s really expanding with features that support the core of the game, I think that are important for viability. Then it allows some different marketing strategy and messages, where you can target some segment of your game with a specific message about the social features or meeting friends. During the game, you can trade things with friends, while you cannot until you have the feature, but maybe some people are more interested in the community part in the game later when you want to expand.

      Esther: Yes, it’s almost like it says mini soft launches, in a sense, you have your core game and you know your core audience and your core game. Then it’s, whether you’re getting the signal more from marketing, or more from different product usage features, it’s this idea of, hey, maybe there’s something that is already within the game, and within the appeal that we can expand further. I think I’ve seen a few examples where companies will test out features and mini products as beta, as pre-launch and just say, do we have enough appeal? Are people excited enough about this to download? Cool, so let’s develop it or we have, five ideas, let’s figure out which one is most relevant for us to move ahead with instead of going with our gut and hoping for the best on the marketing and the performance side. All right, awesome. Are you ready for the quickfire round?

      Sophie: Yes.[laughs] Tell me more about it.

      Esther: I’ll ask you questions we asked everyone they’re not so hard. It’s just, first thing that comes to your mind don’t be shy. Are you ready? First one. If you could give one tip to somebody who’s looking to break into this world of mobile growth? What would it be?

      Sophie: Play a lot of games and network I would say. That’s [inaudible 00:37:13]

      Esther: I agree. I tell this to my family. I’m working, when I’m playing games it’s work. It’s not [laughs] your favorite resource for mobile growth.

      Sophie: I follow the blog of Eric Seufert Mobile Dev Demo. That’s I think the main one.

      Esther: Who’s the person in the mobile community that you would most want to take for lunch and why assuming it was safe to go out to lunch?

      Sophie: Yes, I don’t know actually, I think I would like to probably talk to a lead of a particular cover that’s covered the team leader or probably of Project Makeover. That’s the one I saw the product that’s most recently.

      Esther: All right. if anybody from Project Makeover is listening. [laughs] Reach out to Sophie, get it set up. All right, most important question. What is your favorite type of pancake?

      Sophie: Pancake with? Yes, strawberries, blueberries. ice creams. Yes and maple syrup.

      Esther: I’ll get everything on there. Yes, okay.

      Sophie: Yes.

      Esther: One last one where can people find you if they want to hear more, see what you’re writing. See what you’re up to?

      Sophie: On LinkedIn mostly this is where I connect and post a lot of things. Also, I have a platform of knowledge sharing that is called Write and Play, where I put a master class on practicing leadership, where people also can find me and my contents on this website.

      Esther: Awesome. Sophie, thank you so much for joining us today. It was great having you.

      Sophie: Thank you. It was great to have a conversation as well.

      Esther: That was Mobile Growth and Pancakes. To find out more about Storemaven and how we can improve App Store performance visit storemaven.com. Then make sure to search for Mobile Growth and Pancakes in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, or anywhere else podcasts are found and click subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. On behalf of the team here at Storemaven. Thanks for listening.

      About Esther Shatz
      For some it goes: Moses -> the elders -> People of Israel. For most of us here it's simply: Everything that happens in the mobile world -> Esther -> Storemaven. When not on maternity leave, Esther is leading all consultancy and product marketing activities as Senior VP.

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