THEN IT HIT ME. “WHY HASN’T ANYONE DONE THIS ALREADY?!”
It started when I was a kid spending way too much time and way too many quarters at the local arcade. I loved racking up the high score. As time passed; however, I noticed that all these games were a lot more fun with friends. For hours on end, my friends and I would pound the video game buttons like madmen to see who could amass the most tickets to cash in for prizes. It wasn’t just the competition. It was the rewards.
Back in those days, our aspirations were smaller. We loved the camaraderie, the thrill of the game and the social interaction — but as kids, we wanted real rewards. In sports, the winners took home big shiny trophies. In music and academic competitions, they won fancy plaques and certificates. Our prizes amounted to cheap, paper or plastic things you’d get after trading in tickets you won playing a game. Sure, they usually broke in a day or two but as with many ‘trophies,’ their value wasn’t in the thing itself. At the end of the day, we had black and white evidence in our hands that we could win. It’s not that we were motivated by the trinkets — we were obsessed with bringing home the most trinkets.
THE GAMES CHANGED. THE GAME DID NOT.
In little time, I realized that, almost unconsciously, somewhere along the line, my focus expanded. Like a screenwriter who can’t watch a movie without evaluating the script and plot dynamics — I became obsessed with breaking down the game and what made some more engaging than others. As our group of friends transferred their competitive spirits into various careers, my focus evolved from winning the games to making the games better.
ENTER, MOBILE GAMING
As time whizzed along, games evolved from the arcade to the TV to the computer and finally, to the smartphone. All along, I would ask myself; how could these games be smarter? As the mobile app market exploded, I noticed the biggest surge by far was in gaming, with skyrocketing revenues and rags-to-riches stories popping up daily. Immediately, I dove in head first — and still haven’t come up for air. I began downloading every game request that showed up in my Facebook notifications. I poured over the dynamics and structures of each game. As time passed, I studied all the games that had gone viral to determine what they had in common.
As much as the games and mediums have evolved so quickly, the factors that drive people have mostly remained the same; the fun, the competition and the rewards. As I dug into my research further, I noticed two distinct problems in the market.
PROBLEM #1: THE GOLD RUSH CREATED A MESS
The growth of mobile gaming was similar to the gold rush of yesteryear. Once the success stories got out, droves of developers migrated to this new frontier and cashed in on substantial numbers of users, and with little competition.
Overall, the market was saturated with an “if I build it, they will come” -mentality. Lots of style, very little substance. While many of these apps were built with limited knowledge of game mechanics, the more successful ones had something in common. They allowed users to “mine” each user’s social contacts to invite competition, giving these games the best chance to go viral.
I wanted to create a rich network of games that Could maintain and grow the gamer’s interest while rewarding them for 3 things — playing, performing and referring others. As each gamer plays, performs and refers others from their social contacts they would be rewarded in multiple ways. (We’ll dig into the details and psychology behind those rewards in a follow up blog in a few days.)
PROBLEM #2: SKYROCKETING CUSTOMER ACQUISITION COSTS
The mobile gaming industry continues to explode at an incredible pace and industry revenues are projected to rise steadily every year over the next decade. The small to mid-size game developers are getting squeezed as big game developers enter the space with giant advertising budgets for user acquisition.
As a result, according to the 2017 New Zoo Global Games Report, Customer Acquisition Costs (“CAC”) have skyrocketed in the past 24 months to almost $3 per download — $2.90 to be exact. Now that may not sound like a large number, but consider this — in a freemium marketplace, it takes over 400 downloads to get one paying user.
Games that include competition as their primary “gamification” component compel each player to dig into their social contacts and invite their friends, family and followers to play with or against them. This method dramatically reduces Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC).
THE BIG “AHA!”
Once I identified these hurdles, I thought there must be a way my team and I could solve both problems in one fell swoop.
Then it hit me….what if we could dramatically enhance the gamer experience through competition and rewards, while also solving the two monumental obstacles for 90% of the game developer community.
Playing games from a PC or console (Xbox, PlayStation, etc.) usually offers an option to compete in a head-to-head or multiplayer environment. Mobile games don’t always have this option. Popular examples of mobile games that enable competition include Words with Friends™ (which is like Scrabble™), Trivia Crack™, Draw Something™ (similar to Pictionary™) and others.
While I had found a new way to make the games more viral, there was still something missing. I thought back to the days my friends and I spent way too much time in the local video game arcade and it dawned on me …
“WHAT IF…. gamers could also win prizes? Not just high scores — but real prizes?”.
The synthesis of these two ideas is the genesis of the Game Loot Network — the ultimate gaming community, where players can play games with a chance to win “real world” prizes AND also get rewarded to invite their friends, family and followers to compete against. This could be THE SOLUTION to not only substantially reducing the CAC (Customer Acquisition Costs), but also reward the gamers within the network to help grow the network.
We look at the members of our community as much more than simply customers, they are our partners and we treat them like partners by rewarding them in multiple ways.
SO, HERE WE ARE
Three years later, the seeds of the Game Loot Network have bloomed into the pioneering gaming community it is now. Looking back, we have had our challenges, but we have been very fortunate to assemble the technology and team to get us through the proof-of-concept (MVP), Alpha and Beta phases of this platform.
I am extremely proud of our team and through this blog, I will be introducing you to them as well as the talented new team members that have joined to assist in this final phase. I look forward to transparently communicating our successes, challenges and solutions during this journey.
We have learned a tremendous amount during this time and have more groundbreaking surprises ahead. Stay tuned to learn about the state-of-the-art innovations we’ll be releasing in the months ahead.
Let the games commence. Let the competition be fierce. And most of all, let the rewards roll in.
Founder and President
Game Loot Network