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Game developers have several pressing problems: the attraction of new users is certainly expensive, they rarely stay for a long period of time in the app. Moreover, the app stores want bigger fees for each payment. The GamePad startup went the other way and found a way to radically increase product virality, user engagement, and reduce the cost of user attraction as well. CEO of the startup Pavel Kuznetsov shared the details.
We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.
GamePad is a gaming platform inside messengers with social interaction. It is the possibility to interact with other people in the game that differs our nowadays product from it’s very first version. Some could say that we’ve made a pivot. (You can check how the project looked like a year ago in our article — Startup Jedi).
At first, we had a platform of web games integrated with Telegram, yet the statistics left much to be desired — users didn’t play as actively as expected. Since the possibilities for games already existed in abundance, we needed to find additional value for users.
We started to look out for new ways to increase conversion, tested hypotheses. Afterall, came up with this: why not try a competition? We provided impressive prizes, gathered about 5 000 participants and held a tournament. As a result, the metrics grew 20 times.
That was our “Aha-moment”. We understood that we should “dig” in this direction, so we locked ourselves in a room for brainstorming for a month.
As a result, we have marked two working conclusions for ourselves. First, we have determined that it is better to give the player a final goal in the game and clear ways to achieve it: here is the task, here is the prize for completing it, here are the rivals.
The second takeaway is social interaction. If a person sees real people in the game with whom he can communicate and compete, then their involvement is much higher. And if you can easily find or invite friends in the game, then this further encourages the user to continue playing.
People do not just enter the game and remain alone in it, they compete, set records and communicate in the game chat. Beating your friends in competitions gives you much more emotions than points and stars earned in single player mode.
When we started offering users complete gaming content with social interaction, the number of gaming sessions has increased more than 25 times. People began to have their favorite games, new friends, a constant desire to be the best, and all this, of course, made them constantly return to our platform.
Now we tell the user from the very beginning: “Come in to play, everything is ready to start! Prizes are waiting for the best players! “. Then we motivate users to enter the game chat, participate in the tournament and invite friends to the game.
On average, our k-factor is 0.4 according to the data for the last weeks. This means that every 1000 users bring another 400 to the application. Users actively invite friends to games and spend hours on our platform without noticing that they are trying to beat them.
Reference: The k-factor is the virality rate that is used to describe the growth rate of a website, application or customer base. The most popular formula for calculating it is k-factor = sent invites * conversion, where sent invites is the average number of invites sent by the user, and conversion is the conversion from receiving an invitation to installation. The larger the k-factor, the faster the product audience grows. — Startup Jedi.
Our team has been working with content for Telegram for three years. The first year we promoted our game project, then we started making GamePad. During this time, we have developed three key values for the user in games:
Possibility to play with friends and easily invite them to join the game.
Various options for ready-made content: bonus games, competitions and other mechanics.
Games without obstacles. The less circumstances stand between the user and the start of the game the better.
We’ve already implemented the first two points: there are options for game content, the ability to play with friends and make new friends in game chats. When we grow enough in audience (we plan to reach a MAU (?) of over 1 million active users), we will go into cloud gaming — this is a great way to remove barriers in front of the player. And it doesn’t matter what device he has — cool games on our platform can be played on any device. Plus, use other components of our games: social interaction and prizes for victories.
Currently we are focused on the Russian-speaking market, because we learn to work and earn more comfortably in an understood environment. If we now go to other markets, then the cost of testing hypotheses will rise, since attracting a user will cost more. The distribution of our audience, according to our calculations, by age is as follows: 40% are teenagers from 11 to 18 years old, another 40% are young people from 18 to 25 years old, the remaining 20% are people over 25 years old.
We carry out monetization through advertising: in Game store (banners for mobile games), between game sessions (Google Ads advertising networks, Yandex advertising network and others), inside the bot (sending ads to users by personal message), as well as through subscriptions with bonuses (disconnecting ads, bonuses in games, leveling up the profile). Our audience is shown mainly ads for other games.
We are not particularly worried that users will go to other games, because there is no social interaction in them: the player will find themselves in an environment where there are no friends and no opportunities to interact and compete with them.
It is socialization, the ability to interact with other people and the mechanics we have developed to reward for this that distinguish our games from other web games-competitors.
Gamee — a similar mechanic is used by people from Google. They began to develop in Telegram like us, but they chose a different path, because they were afraid of the uncertainty with the launch of TON.
For reference: Telegram Open Network (TON) is a new generation peer-to-peer multi-blockchain system with built-in Gram cryptocurrency (GRM) from Telegram developers. On May 12, 2020 Pavel Durov announced the closure of the project. — Startup Jedi.
Along with their audience, Gamee moved first to their own web platform, and then to the application. As a result, the social connections that they had in Telegram remained, but it became much more difficult to start new ones: to invite friends to their game, you had to make them first install the application and register.
For Gamee, the transition to the app led to a loss of social interaction for new users, and as expected (we can see this in open data) — to a drop in audience growth and an increase in the cost of attracting new users.
People are comfortable in their familiar surroundings and are reluctant to change their routes. Messengers today are a working communication channel, a source of news and other useful content, as well as a means of communicating with friends. It is very convenient to switch from such an environment to the game: everything is familiar, all the necessary people are also here, there is no need to register anywhere else and download anything.
In general, we can connect any messenger to our service. The gaming sessions themselves take place directly on our servers. From the side of the messenger, we only need access to user identification — everything else is ours.
Telegram has become the main platform for us, as it provides very wide technical capabilities, a cool API and a very low cost of attracting users. We tested different channels for our gaming platform, but we did not find an opportunity to buy traffic cheaper than in Telegram.
I have a hypothesis that this is related to the Telegram audience. There are fans of the product who like to try its new features, actively respond to any innovations and willingly recommend them to their friends.
We will also develop cooperation with other messengers. Our solution is interesting for them, as it allows them to keep users on the channel longer and gives them an incentive to come back again. Now we are waiting for TikTok to complete its API, we also plan to connect Snapchat and Instagram. We already cooperate with VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, however, due to their locality and technical nuances, these social networks are not our priority.
The news about the launch of the advertising platform in Telegram became just a New Year’s gift for us: we got the opportunity to become a leader in our market segment. Until now, it was impossible to effectively buy traffic in Telegram, and the advertising tools existing in it allowed reaching only one fifth of users. With the launch of the advertising system of the messenger itself, it is now possible to reach all Telegram users at once — this is more than 500 million people from all over the world and their number is constantly growing.
Of course, in the very near future, various products including games will begin to appear for this audience. And we have been in this niche for a long time and we know how users behave. Thanks to the advertising network, we will have the opportunity to buy traffic cheaply and, therefore, grow rapidly. We will be pioneers and show you how you can make money using Telegram.
We are now offering gamers casual games that we create ourselves or buy from developers. We will move from this model to direct partnerships with the best game manufacturers that they can host on our platform.
For our part, we will add a social component and cloud infrastructure to their games. Games will be launched not on the end device, but on the server, and only the picture will be delivered to the player. This scheme removes the barriers between the player and cool games: users do not need to use a powerful device — a budget device and a stable Internet are enough. And this scheme also saves developers from having to pay 30% commission from Apple and Google on each purchase.
We also plan to launch cloud streaming of games in the near future. Thanks to this, developers will not need to make versions of the product for iOS and Android. It is enough to make a “cloud” version and it will be available on all devices. This means that new games will appear faster and become cheaper.
We have ambitious plans for the first months of 2021: we will add new social mechanics and approaches to users in Telegram, and we will also launch bright educational advertising videos to show how GamePad works.
Already in January, we plan to bring our economy to a plus: now we are looking for investments and are entering a new orbit in our developments.
We are currently raising $60,000 investments to refine the mechanics of social interaction. After that, we want to raise the next round of $300,000 to add cloud gaming. Next, we will involve a large Seed round for scaling.
The best investor for us would be a game studio, where we could find synergies between our products and strengthen our expertise.
All the success of GamePad is the credit of our team. We have been working together for five years now, have done different projects, experienced different situations. A digital marketer has recently joined our crew. There are seven of us now and we have all the necessary competencies on board.
The 2020 year gave us some cool new advisors. Gamedev specialists from a very large publisher started working with us. Unfortunately, we cannot tell their names and place of work, as their employer does not encourage such communications. However, these guys liked the GamePad so much that they decided to help us anyway.