Episode #27: Are Paid UA Ads Useless? With Tom Hammond

How small-budget studios, struggling with resources, can use audience-based strategies and paid ads to create hit games? Listen to episode #27 of our podcast with Tom Hammond to learn more.

In this episode of Mobile Growth & Pancakes, Esther Shatz is joined by Tom Hammond, Co-founder, and CEO at UserWise. Tom talks us through how resource-constrained studios can use audience-based strategies and paid ads to create hit games. He also expands on his wife’s experience of hating a mobile game because the studio targeted her with fake UA ads. Listen to this episode to get a balanced perspective on user acquisition ads for mobile games.

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

To connect with Tom:

Timestamps:

00:49 – Intro of Tom Hammond and UserWise
02:10 – Audience-driven game development
15:02 – How to grow mobile games without paid UA ads
21:28 – Mistakes while running paid UA ads
30:50 – How to get ROI fast without wasting budget on paid UA ads
36:25 – Quick-fire round

Listen to the full episode here:

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    Measuring and data are great, but if we’re ultimately looking to create a game that you can play for five, ten, fifteen years for hours and hours and hours, I generally find that the longer that a player has invested time and energy into the game, the more ready they become to spend money too

    Tom Hammond

    Key Takeaways:

    Tom Hammond is the Co-founder and CEO of UserWise and has been in the mobile gaming industry for over ten years. He is a serial entrepreneur focused on helping game creators extend the life of their games through UserWise’s Player Experience Management Platform. Through this platform, they deliver extremely fun experiences to each player at the right moment. 

    Re-engineer the audience of top players in your chosen gaming category and ask them in detail about their experiences. Solving their unsolved problems can often help attract players who have already quit due to top player’s frustrating experiences as well as those who are just hanging on by a thread.

    You could also nurture the audience of a specific type of gamer with blogs and other forms of content. Once that list grows to a viable size, use data from their user surveys to find their unmet needs to build new games. This list will also be useful for feedback on initial prototypes and for persuading users into buying the game.

    User acquisition ads have limited potential for user growth. Accommodate social profile data in your games to fuel the game’s word-of-mouth marketing and its user retention. Combining gaming features with social profile data lets users form sub-communities with their friends. 

    Imitating creatives of popular games on paid UA ads might seem tempting and easy-to-implement, but it will damage your game’s brand recall and alienate your potential audience. Promising a certain type of value and not fulfilling that expectation will also alienate your audience.

    Resource-constrained game development studios should start with self-published hyper-casual games and grow them through paid UA ads. Once they build a safety net and a loyal audience, they can start experimenting with larger, more complex games with higher risk.

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      Full Transcript:

      Esther Shatz: I am joined today by Tom Hammond, who is the CEO of UserWise. Tom, do you want to introduce yourself real quick and maybe talk a little bit about the platform UserWise and what you guys do?

      Tom: Sure. I’m Tom Hammond. I’ve been in mobile gaming for about 10 years now. I like doing monetization and stuff with a number of different games over the years. UserWise is a player experience management platform. We saw a lot of studios just building the same things over and over again and most of the tools were really not great and really prone to breaking. We decided to go out and gather all the different types of live app tools that folks have made, put it together, actually put some design around it, and really make a great tool.

      Like we’ve seen Unity, you’re not going to go out and build your own game engine anymore. We believe long-term, folks can fill that need for running their game once it’s actually live with UserWise. It’s been a fun journey and getting a bunch of people rolled on now as we’ve launched our early access product, which is super exciting, and excited to see where it goes from here.

      Esther: Very exciting and very cool. Let’s go straight into your focus is on the audience and on giving users an experience that makes it worth sticking around. Let’s talk a little bit about audience-driven game development as opposed to starting on the product side. I think this is something that you know just a bit about.

      Tom: Absolutely. I think it even goes beyond games. I am trying to remember where this came from but it’s this idea that if you want to start a company, the best way to do that is by first figuring out who do you want your customers to be? Who are my biggest, best, these would be the ideal customers that I want to work with? Then you go out and you actually talk to those people and you ask them, and there’s like two basic questions. The first one is, let’s say I want to work with the mobile game studios focused on live ops. I might say, what are two to three problems related to living ops that you’re trying to solve in the next 12 months?

      The second question is if I had a magic wand and I could give you anything, what would you want? After 5, 10, 20 conversations, there tends to be a trend in there, maybe a couple of trends but something overarching that you can then if you can figure out how to build and actually solve whatever that problem is, you’re much more likely to have a successful company. Now, think about that within the lens of games. Let’s say I want to make a match-three type game. If I was going to do that right now, I would probably figure out, well, what need is not being met right now? What audience is out there that isn’t being met?

      I would probably take a look at some of the top match-three games. Maybe like Homescapes and Candy Crush, and I would figure out what is their ideal target audience person look like, and then I would go and find people that fit that audience but don’t play those games. I would start talking to them and asking them questions, trying to understand, have you ever tried a game like that? If you did try it, and many of them have, what about it didn’t you like? Was there something that turned you off about that game?

      Possibly, I will find out that I really don’t like the stress of the match-three, I only have a certain number of moves, and I’ve got so much other stress in my life right now with work and kids and who knows? It was just too much for me and I had to quit. Maybe I hear that trend from a number of different people and I realize, hey, this is maybe worth a prototype, putting together some sort of game that is like a match-three but it takes away that stress of losing. There are many other things you have to figure out then from monetization and retention and things like that. We’re just pitching a prototype and finding something that could work.

      Esther: Interesting. You’re starting, it sounds like you have some level of the framework. You have to start within this is around the app. There’s something within this context is the app that I’m looking to develop. I’m looking to see what the natural audience group will be but I’m actually specifically looking for the people who are dissatisfied or not maximized to their potential. How do I make sure that I’m designing something that answers their dissatisfaction, solves this missing piece that’s been existing without anyone knowing necessarily?

      Tom: Exactly. Oftentimes, if you can solve that for a peripheral audience, you’ll probably steal some people from Candy Crush too because there are players that are probably just dealing with this pain that caused other people to quit but they’re dealing with it and they just thought that it was like–

      Esther: They just stuck it out.

      Tom: I have to deal with it. An example of this, there is a, I forget who made it, it’s called the Big Bertha but it’s related to golf. In golf, back before this was created, it’s just a very small portion of the population of people that would actually play golf. One of the reasons was, it’s very difficult to get into golf. Now, if you golf like me, you realize this because it’s not exactly a pleasant experience to just go and make a complete fool of yourself by sending the ball wherever and it’s very hard to hit the ball sometimes.

      What this company did is they talked to a lot of the people. “You should play golf. Why don’t you?” A lot of it was, it’s just too challenging, too hard to hit the ball. They ended up creating this Big Bertha, a really big club that made it a lot easier to hit the ball. Not only did they do spectacularly well with this group that they talked to but a lot of the existing golfers also became customers of and buying Big Berthas because they lived with this pain but they just took it on themselves of, oh, I just need to figure out how to get better or whatnot. It’s a very interesting way of applying pain to a solution.

      That’s not necessarily the only way to do audience-driven development. I’d say the other way that you can do it, and I don’t know that one is better than the other. The second one might ultimately be better but that also takes longer to do, which is this idea of picking, this is the audience that I want to do. Let’s say fans of, I’m trying to remember the name of the game. It’s goofy-looking characters on my switch. My daughter likes to play it.

      Esther: Fortnight?

      Tom: No.

      Esther: Not on your switch. No.

      Tom: Not on my switch. Actually, they do have Fortnight on their switch but it doesn’t matter.

      Esther: Roblox? Is it Roblox?

      Tom: Anyway, you pick a game. I haven’t let them play Roblox yet. Not yet. It’s like this little island game where you can go around and build stuff. You can visit other people’s islands and stuff. Cutesy-looking characters. I would not have expected it to do so well. Target them. What aspects about these types of games you could play or we could say like the Sims. That’s a big audience. There are people that like the Sims, that kind of lifestyle simulator-type games. You could start targeting them. You could start putting together a blog about the Sims or lifestyle simulator games.

      Putting out lots of content and starting to build a following of people that are interested in what you have to say, also interested in what you want to make. Over time, probably like one to two years, you’ll end up building up this group of people that will pretty much do whatever you say or follow you for writing because they really like the content and the stuff that you are putting out. At some point, you can start to talk to them. What do you really like about the Sims? What don’t you like about the Sims? If I was to put together a game doing XYZ or something that looks like this, are you interested in that?

      Chances are, a lot of them would be. Then you now have this audience that loves what you’re trying to build and they’re going to be really active and give you great feedback and stuff. You can start putting together a prototype. You could ask them for feedback, like play it and they’ll give it to you. If they don’t like it, they’re going to let you know but they trust you. They know you. They like the things that you’re doing. You like the same sorts of things, the same sort of games, they’re on your side essentially, they’re not just a customer, they’re going to stick with you pretty much whatever.

      You’re going to have multiple shots like you can, “Oh, I made a prototype. I did X, Y, Z, didn’t really work, tried another one, took your feedback, here’s something,” and you have this ongoing relationship with these people and there’s probably a whole lot of other people that would also enjoy the game that just hasn’t discovered you yet but over time, you can have this really amazing audience that you can just work with collaboratively on building things. That’s actually what we do with UserWise. We realized that there was just not a lot of great information on how to make mobile games product-wise, how to do live ops, how to do game economy design.

      All these things, a lot of games– Information was out there, but it was just really sheltered so we’ve just been trying to make it more accessible. Along the way, people love our content. A lot of them have collaborated with us on building the product. Now a lot of them are customers. For all intents and purposes, we’ve become their live ops team, we’re building stuff with them. It’s a really great ongoing relationship that can apply to pretty much any business but it’s a really awesome way to partner with games. I think a lot of people don’t do that, mainly because it takes time.

      Esther: No, I love it.

      Tom: You got to put together the content, you got to find those things. You can find the people on subreddits, they’re out there. Those tend to be the most engaged users of whatever style of game that you’re trying to make and the fact that a game developer is that close and that access to them, and they can have those interactions, just makes it all the better for them, too. It’s great for them and it’s great for you.

      Esther: I love it because essentially, what you’re doing is you’re giving value outside of a specific product. You have this continuous value stream, which is I’m providing information and the community, and this feed, which is independent of my ability to develop or provide you specifically with a product. This means that when I’m in a position of wanting to offer a product I have these partners who are with me because the value I give them is separate from the product, they’re obviously going to be on top of that with me. It seems like the kind of thing that even bigger developers if you’re– I think some apps do it.

      You have Supercell, they’ve worked on their community and their content, and they can build out other apps within that universe because they have such a life cycle outside but I think a lot of developers don’t touch that at all, they don’t look outside of just this is the wiki for our game and this is the world for our game. I’d say probably IP’s have maybe accidentally gotten the benefit of that. They have this built-in community that they can play around with but I think it’s a really cool idea to say even if you’re not an IP, you have an industry and you can provide value in that industry that creates just a long term, constantly feeding into a user base that lets you not only promote your games but actually create your games and create them well. It’s very cool.

      Tom: Yes, and those users are probably much more likely to spend money on your game too, and not just one game, but they’ll probably play every game that you put out.

      Esther: Hey, you’ve done it for them.

      Tom: You can have these long-term relationships and it’s great for them too. You shouldn’t do it maliciously, you should genuinely enjoy the stuff that you’re putting out and find it interesting and useful. With UserWise, I don’t care, someone could find tons and tons of value from all the stuff that we put out and make accessible and go on to make amazing games, never talk to us never use anything, that is perfectly fine. That’s great. We’re going to all make better games together. I love that. Some people might have a need for the things that we’re doing, and we’ll talk to them and if it makes sense, we’ll work with them. It doesn’t really matter because we’re doing good for the industry as a whole, I think.

      You’re doing good for Sim lovers everywhere. Maybe you’re sharing all sorts of interesting tips and tricks and tidbits and things that they had no idea about the Sims but they love because it’s their favorite game, and it has been for years. Yes, I think there’s a lot of potentials. I think it takes a while to build up that base. I would say, if I had a time constraint, I would probably start more on option one, but as I talked to those people, maybe I can leverage that into starting to build up a community that I can engage with and stuff too.

      Esther: Definitely, it’s an investment for sure. It’s not for the quick wins but for the long-term payoff. Let’s take it to the next step. I have the prototype of my game, whether I went through option one or two, I’ve started to get the audience feedback. I see that I have a market fit, I see that there is something for me to move forward here. I think in the gaming industry especially, there’s a challenge, which is basically you need a budget. You need to be paid and everybody’s default is to basically say, I mean, look at hyper-casual is basically just this huge industry that just gets UA traffic, grow it out, build it in. Do you think that that’s the only way to grow an app? What do you do if you’re not looking for a totally paid marketing strategy?

      Tom: This has actually been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It was even just like, I don’t know, I was dumbstruck reading Facebook’s recent publication on the state of gaming or something, I forget exactly what it’s called. Anyways, in there, they outlined some surveys that they did, and I don’t know what their methodology was or statistical relevance and such, but they found that only one in four people are willing to try a game that they haven’t heard of before. Now, if you let that sink in, if I’m doing all this paid UA on Facebook, for some new game, three out of four impressions are basically just wasted. That is a lot of wasted revenue.

      Maybe my ROIs will accommodate for that if I’m lucky but you’re basically just throwing away money because these people haven’t heard about your game. What are some different ways that we could organically have people thinking about our game, or hearing about our games, or sharing it with our friends? I remember Flappy Bird coming out and the way that I heard about Flappy Bird was from my brother-in-law who was like, “Dude, you got to check this out, I just want to watch you play.” I played and it was embarrassing. I was atrocious but I got really good after a while, mainly because I wanted to show him. It was such a challenging experience that I wanted to share that with friends and family. I think I did and he did that too.

      If it comes down to seeing an ad for Genshin Impact, which a friend has passionately been expounding about how amazing it is, or some other game that you haven’t heard of before, well, of course, you’re much more likely to try Genshin Impact than this thing that you’ve never heard of before. Now, I think there’s different ways that you can go about it. In some ways, you can think about how do I design my game such that there are social elements? Because that’s ultimately I think, the answer to long-term retention. That’s the only reason that I’ve ever stuck around with the game beyond 30, 60 days, or whatever. At some point, it’s like, “Oh, my guild relies on me, I’ve got to come in and hang out with them, do my whatever.”

      How can you make it social? How can you make the game more fun by sharing it with your friends, sharing it with your loved ones? Because then they join in and the game is more fun, among us. Great [chuckles] example of that. I think some of those things can be designed into your game. Sometimes you can have just that challenge aspect where it’s like, “Oh, this is so ridiculously hard, I want to see you fail or try to do better than this.” There’s a lot of things that you can do on those game design things, but you can’t always do that in a game. That might not necessarily be the answer but I think there’s a huge opportunity, again, getting towards content marketing and different things that you could do on social channels and stuff.

      When I think of Facebook marketing for games, for the most part, it’s literally just paid to advertise. People aren’t utilizing their Facebook channels for hardly anything else. I think Wooga did this with June’s Journey but they started doing real-life events and other things within their Facebook and they just saw massive growth come out of that because they were thinking creatively, they were using their Facebook and engaging with real people in a way that made them want to share that content, made them feel good about things. I think there’s a whole lot that you can do beyond just paid advertising.

      I remember Oh BiBi with their FRAG game, they did a thing with Nerf, so co-marketing, and that sounds actually really fun. I enjoy doing Nerf wars with my brothers when I grew up. Maybe I haven’t checked out FRAG but I can go and shoot Nerf guns at a bunch of people and maybe I’ll get my brothers to join too and we can recreate our Nerf gun fights from when we were kids. That’s interesting, that’s share-worthy, that’s getting on the growth hacking type stuff there, but I think you can get a lot more creative than a lot of people.

      If they just fall into this strict paid UA trap, which doesn’t get me wrong, I think paid UA has a spot and I think you always have to have it but are their ways that you can feel it and make it go further. If I’m doing paid UA and three out of four impressions are basically being wasted right now, is there something that I can do within the social realm such that maybe two out of four now actually have heard about my game before, and since they’ve heard about it, they may be more likely to actually download it and such, and that might not always be the case.

      I think certain ads will drive better engagement and things, but I also think you have to be careful. I’m going to talk about Playrix a little bit here, and [chuckles] this is a real-life observation. I actually watched it happen and I was delighted and it was super interesting. I watched my wife and she was playing things like Two Dots or something and she got an ad, and it was a fake ad for Homescapes or Gardenscapes, I forget which one. She was like, oh, that seems interesting, and I’m just quietly watching her, and she downloads it and she gets in and, oh man, she was so mad when she realized that it was just a fake ad and it was like a completely different game.

      Esther: A mini-game you’ll see at some point after playing a match-three for X amount of time.

      Tom: Right, right. Yes. She downloaded it and she uninstalled it and she was just furious and I didn’t really say anything. I just kept watching and then a little bit later there was another Playrix ad for something else, and she saw that it was Playrix, and just like instantly, it was like, get out of here. I was like, what happened? She’s like, it was completely a lie. I don’t know. I’m never downloading anything from Playrix again, they’re just a bunch of scammers and I was like, that’s super interesting.

      I’m sure those ads work because they wouldn’t be running if they didn’t form a strict ROAS perspective but behind the scenes, I’m wondering, she’s your core target audience, and she likes Dots and other match-three games. She probably would have liked the game, so did you run some UA that ultimately drove her away when it could have done the opposite? Which actually leads me to another thing that I’ve been thinking about recently, which is, okay, everyone in the industry is okay with retention rates being what they are, right? If you’ve got 40%, 50% D1 retention, you’re a hero, but think about that for a second.

      I ran a bunch of ads on Facebook and most people don’t click those ads, right? Something about the ad, and not just the ad, they had to click the ad, go to the store, read the description, see the screenshots, they could have abandoned it there, but they didn’t and they downloaded it. Something about the ad was so enticing it promised something, something about the store and this description like we promised this experience to players, and we failed to deliver that so poorly that they just quit the game and they never came back. Why is that?

      Esther: It’s a much more depressing way of looking at it. [chuckles]

      Tom: Right? Yes, that’s 60% of people that thought this game was going to be awesome and for me, and looked really fun, they quit because it wasn’t. What exactly are we promising in our UA that we’re failing to deliver in the game? Because I think if you can start to understand that a little bit closer, and start to deliver those types of things in the game or change your UA such that you’re retaining those people a little bit longer, yes, it might throw off your CPIs a little bit, but that’s not ultimately the thing that really matters in my opinion, it’s more about like LTV and keeping those players around for the long-term.

      If we can better understand those people, and I haven’t necessarily figured out how to do this because it’s very difficult to track down somebody that downloaded the game and then churned and go back to them, but maybe that’s something that Storemaven can do. [chuckles] If you can actually go back and talk to those people and understand, what did I fail to do in my game? What wasn’t wrong, chances are, there are some huge opportunities for you to uncover glaring issues that your data isn’t showing and your playtests aren’t showing and different things like that, but we’re drastically failing to deliver on the ultimate value that we’re promising on.

      If you go to a store and you need a pan, you’re going to see the pan and the store and it looks pretty good. It seems to meet what you are expecting and you bring that pan home and you try to cook with it and for whatever reason, it just burns everything, it fails to deliver on what it’s expected to do. We’re going to be about that. We’re going to return that pan, get our money back, what’s going on here. If a real-life product failed to deliver on what it said it was going to do, we would not tolerate that type of thing, so why are we so readily tolerating that within paid UA? I don’t know.

      Esther: It’s an interesting point. I think that part of when I’ve seen, you see a lot of companies default to paid just because there’s such an easy measurement. You’re looking at ROAS and you’re looking at CPI and these are areas that are just, you can create a target and you can stick to it or you can’t, and then when you look at efforts, especially when you’re really getting creative and I think some companies, Wooga’s done it really well.

      Gameloft had a very cool influencer tie in where they got this weapon maker to make one of the weapons, which if you won a specific contest within the game, you would get to keep the actual weapon, something that was very, very tied into actually getting people to play the game who are interested, who are really interesting things, but to prove the ROI on something like that and to say, okay, this is the projected investment, becomes so much harder than you have companies who just say, well F it, we’ll go with what we can tomorrow calculate, but maybe in this sense, the obviously IOS 14.5 and then limiting the ability to measure the things we’ve been comfortable measuring until now.

      We’ve said it a couple of times, but it opens up that idea of, hey, measurement maybe isn’t so straightforward and maybe it’s not just about getting the user in and having a 40% D7 retention. Maybe it’s actually about taking it more holistically, taking it longer-term. I think you had a good point as well, which is if we have three out of four people skipping a Facebook ad because they don’t know the game, and then we have some effort that we’ve done through a social channel, not related to pay, and suddenly we have two out of four people clicking, three out of four people clicking instead of ignoring, that’s awesome, that’s tangible, that’s measurable.

      I think it is definitely something that you have to bite the bullet and say, okay, I know I’m not going to be able to measure this tomorrow. I know it, but I’ve got to do something here. I can’t just rely on the perfection of my gameplay. There has to be something to pull somebody in beforehand.

      Tom: Well, and measuring and data is great, but if we’re ultimately looking to create a game that you can play for 5, 10, 15 years for hours and hours and hours, I generally find that the longer that a player has invested time and energy into the game, the more ready they become to spend money too. I might have a player that doesn’t spend anything for a year and so by typical ROI, ROAS measuring standards, I would basically flag them as nothing, and then suddenly they might drop 20 bucks on the game or five bucks. I’m sure that’s probably what League of Legends looks like in many cases.

      People don’t buy a hero or a skin for a long time and then they finally master a champion and suddenly they start buying a bunch of skins and things. It’s very interesting because usually, you see that LTV curve flatten out up here, but if you have the retention where the players are sticking around for the long-term, you have a lot of opportunities to continue to grow that [unintelligible 00:29:59] curve beyond just that 30-day time frame or whatever that you’re typically looking at.

      It’s an interesting thing to think about but at the same time, if you’re pouring millions of dollars into user acquisition, you do want to know that you’re actually going to have a positive Return On Investment. I think it’s a balance and that’s why I don’t think the paid UA could or should go away. I think you want to have a baseline with that data as much as possible but realize that there are these other activities that I think are difficult to necessarily track. I will also say a lot of times, I think if something is really working, you can feel it in your gut and you can just tell it’s working, so, I don’t know.

      Esther: I guess the question is, and I definitely relate to the point, what about when you’re the developer who doesn’t have a huge amount of time to see the payoff? You’re a maybe smaller shop and you’ve invested a whole lot in getting a game live, especially if you’ve done all the right work beforehand and you’ve really found that you have something that it should be market-fit. How do you look to make sure that you’re getting– You need ROI as soon as possible but you can’t throw a ton into UA and just wait for it to pay off next year but you also can’t throw a ton into a long-term organic game. Is there a way to speed the process up to hit that immediate hurdle sooner rather than later?

      Tom: That’s a great point. I feel like it’s going to be a very case-by-case basis. It’s going to depend a lot on your game and the potential and your metrics for monetization and retention and things like that. Truthfully, if I was starting a new studio today without the resources that I have, I would probably take the approach of starting simpler. I would probably try to find, assuming I don’t bring my existing co-founders which I probably would, but if I was starting brand new and I had no access to anything, I would probably look for someone that is a generalist artist but also skilled at doing marketing type stuff.

      I would look for a generalist, probably, technologist unless I want to start coding again. It’s been a while but I’m sure I could get back on it. Usually, I like those teams of three. I probably transition between the two of doing marketing, coding, game design type of stuff. I would probably say, we start with hyper-casual games. I don’t think I would use a publisher. I would probably self-publish because I think the more you can have those types of things in-house, the faster you learn, the better you get all sorts of things.

      Some people don’t have that opportunity but I think if you can, it can be really really valuable. Depends maybe you publish one or two and then you start doing some self-publishing or whatnot. The reason I would start hyper-casual is, if you can make a game prototype every two weeks that is 26 shots on goal versus a longer game that maybe you get one or two shots on goal throughout the year, I would start there.

      Ideally, I would get to the point where we’ve got 5 to 10 games that aren’t huge. I would target probably $5,000 to $10,000 a month in just recurring revenue and I would probably do it all paid UA. Just get to the point of ROAS positive, paid UA, not looking to take over the moon but once you have that baseline of that like 5 to 10 games, you’ve got a lot more security, enough that you can pay your salaries, bring on a few more employees, probably continue with that 26 hyper-casual but now, maybe I would take a larger shot on goal with something that I spend a little bit more time doing that research of the people that don’t play Candy Crush or Homescapes. Why not?

      Can we iterate on that and have a go depending on where I want to be. Maybe we achieve something, maybe we don’t but the worst case that game fails, we still have that baseline to continue to run, and then we can take another shot on goal. It’s a much longer but in my mind, safer approach because I don’t believe you should just build a company to try to scale it up and sell it as quickly as possible. I believe in long-term things that ultimately can provide value for the world as a whole. You’re not going to do anything really quick but you start slow so that you can go quick in the long term.

      Eventually, maybe we’ll solve that problem for the people that don’t play Candy Crush and Homescapes and it could become a huge game. As it starts to become a huge game, that’s where I would start to kick in the more creative type things of, okay, we’ve got some baseline, some cash, maybe we can bring on a creative content marketer or someone that can really do this outside of the box type things so that we can figure out how do we address more of these people that we think would be a great fit for our game that we can actually tell them about it and get them to try the game and do that in an honest way that builds trust because I believe.

      Esther: It’s funny I think because you’re seeing that practically nowadays on both sides. I think a lot of hyper-casual studios have started to look at, okay, where is our game that actually lasts, that actually has a player base. On the other side, you have monster developers who have those games that really have those audience networks who are also now saying, okay, let me bring in a hyper-casual just to have this feed coming in that enables me to go longer-term on that. I think it makes a lot of sense on both sides. Tom, are you ready for the quickfire round?

      Tom: Go for it.

      Esther: All right. You can give just one tip to an aspiring mobile growth marketer, what’s the tip?

      Tom: I would probably say spend more time talking to engaged players. I think, right now, marketers spend too much time just focused on the data and the marketing campaigns and things like that but ultimately, we’re trying to get people into the game and there are already people in your game that love the game. You should fundamentally know why do they love the game, what delights them about the game? Because I think some of those insights can unlock a lot of creative ideas that you can ultimately apply to your marketing campaigns with far more success.

      Esther: Awesome. Your favorite mobile growth resource?

      Tom: That is a tough question that I was not prepared to answer.

      Esther: We don’t call it quickfire for anything.

      Tom: [laughs] I think I really liked companies like Storemaven, Geeklab, some others like that. I think you guys have a lot of great resources and then GameRefinery and .io is a new one. Those types of things are really helpful.

      Esther: Awesome. Person in the industry that you’d most want to take for lunch and why?

      Tom: Probably Joakim Achrén, the founder of Elite Game Developers. I just really love his mission and what he’s doing. He’s empowering the next generation of game entrepreneurs and helping them start their businesses the right way. I really love seeing that.

      Esther: I think you’ve answered that faster than anyone else up till now. You really knew who you were ready. That was good. Okay, most important question. What is your favorite type of pancake?

      Tom: I’m a sucker for fruit in anything so I would probably say blueberry pancakes.

      Esther: I can’t do this question pregnant because then I need to immediately– I’m just like, “Oh, I need a blueberry pancake now.” This is not an effective way to end the question. Finally, Tom, where can people find you, hear more, see what you’re up to, hear more thoughts?

      Tom: You can always find us at userwise.io. We also have a private community for game creators. If you guys want to join that, feel free to apply. We’d love to continue to grow that. As for me, I’m on LinkedIn a lot so you can just view Tom Hammond or look for UserWise, you’ll probably find me. Connect, shoot me a message. I love helping people out with all sorts of crazy fun questions. If you need help, I usually keep time on my calendar to help game creators make better games.

      Esther: Amazing. Tom, thank you so much for joining, for all the info. We’re really excited to see UserWise over the next few months and see how you guys grow.

      Tom: Thank you so much for having me. This has been a blast.

      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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