Interview: Team Wooga Talks Becoming a UA and Gaming Powerhouse
Before you hear from them at their GDC session, check out this behind the scenes interview with Jason Conger, Head of User Acquisition at Wooga and the Wooga Team - hot off the press. While Wooga’s games like June’s Journey are immersive and beloved by players worldwide, the same applies to this powerhouse company that has a story so engaging you can’t help but be drawn in. Get a sneak peek into their key tips for UA success, how they create a joyful experience for their players, and why they are their own toughest critics.
”At Wooga we have a passion for creating beautiful story driven casual games for our players from all over the globe. I think we are able to do this because we attract the best talent in the industry to our offices Berlin from around the world. To make the best games it all starts with bringing in diverse, enthusiastic, talented people from all walks of life. However, as we all know in this industry, hits aren’t easy to come by. We’ve went through success and failure at Wooga and while you always plan for success, unfortunately there can be difficult times. This has helped us learn, grow and develop as a studio. Wooga has been resilient in our ten year history and coming into 2019, we are very excited for the future.”
- Jason Conger, Head of User Acquisition
Let’s cover UA with something that packs a punch! Give us your top three UA tips:
Don’t stop testing, don’t give up - Allocate a experimentation budget. You cannot expand and grow if you don’t try new things. It allows your UA managers to be creative and explore new opportunities. Sometimes you also try a product that doesn’t work and it might with other optimizations, other strategies. Don’t be afraid to re-test something because it didn’t work in the past.
Be flexible - the industry is constantly evolving and progressing. You have to be quick and innovative to new trends, technology, and tools. Keep learning and take calculated risks. Sometimes you have to make decisions without all the information you’d like available, but it’s better to move forward than to be perfect.
Communicate cross functionally - Have regular check ins with the product teams and know what they’re working on and how it will affect acquisition. Meet with the data science team to help solve complex problems. Communicate with Marketing teams to help make data trackable and measurable. It’s important not to sit in a silo and work with other teams throughout the organization.
“I don’t think we ever have to sacrifice our core values in order to reach our players.”
What was your greatest challenge in choosing your UA initiatives?
There are constant challenges in UA and it’s important to be flexible and adaptive to new technology. We have to be extremely close to product, data science, data engineering, management, marketing, and more. We are a performance marketing based team so we focus on customer lifetime value. This means we have to make daily, micro transaction based decisions that impact future values over the course of the coming years. Sometimes this means we have to stop the acquisition for games that don’t add positive value for the studio. These are tough decisions that impact many people and their day to day responsibilities so sometimes it’s important to view the data objectively and communicate thoughtfully. Sometimes we have to take big bets on future initiatives and technology that we don’t know the outcomes of. There will always be challenges for UA and we don’t expect at any point in the future will this change!
What measurements do you think truly matter?
Engagement is extremely important to us. If players don’t retain we don’t have much of a value proposition to bring to the table. Keeping players engaged in the early game and teaching them the core mechanics is extremely valuable. However, an important metric is days played which ties into long term retention and keeping players around for an extended period of time.
On top of that, we want to focus on personalizing the player journey to the individual and offering deals, experiences, events that are important to them at the right moment. If we can retain players, monetize through in app purchases and ad revenue we can continue to scale our marketing efforts to find new players.
What risks did you take in your efforts to attract users?
I don’t think we ever have to sacrifice our core values in order to reach our players. Obviously we are a business and must make the right decisions to keep providing quality entertainment. We have a customer care team dedicated to providing our players with the best service possible. One of our core values is Being Close To Our Players. We listen to their feedback to make the game experience the best it can be.
What is one aspect of the gaming and/or advertising industry that has changed since Wooga’s beginning?
When Wooga started in January of 2009, mobile gaming was not yet in the mainstream. Games didn’t need user acquisition and the mobile marketing landscape was extremely limited or untrackable. Fast forward to 2019 in a world of advanced technology, we now have a team of Data Scientists and User Acquisition experts who are making real time decisions to reach players worldwide.
What is your one best piece of advice about creating a game players love?
Play the game yourself. It sounds simple but if you can’t be your own toughest critic, you aren’t going to challenge your product to get better. Listen to your players, talk to your game team, stay up to date on the market and your competitors. Nobody is stopping and waiting for you to get better and improve.
What’s in the future for Wooga? What goals are remaining on your list to achieve?
After 10 years of Wooga, I want to believe there’s another 10 years of Wooga in our future. We have just entered into an exciting partnership with our friends over at Playtika and we believe there are big things to come from the team at Wooga. You can imagine there will be more games to come in the future with the latest and greatest in design, art, and storytelling. We are always innovating and pushing the boundaries.
And, if you will be attending GDC, you can’t miss Wooga’s session Marketing Stories: Multiplayer Soft Launch and Playable Ads! You’ll hear about Wooga’s success story and key learnings for production, design practices, and evaluation tactics for playable ads.