Interview

2015 in Review: Space Ape's Simon Hade on ditching the UA funnel

2015 in Review: Space Ape's Simon Hade on ditching the UA funnel

As 2015 begins to fade into memory, we're taking a look back at the events that have dominated the last 12 months in mobile gaming.

As such, we've asked the industry's great and good to give us their take on the year, as well as predicting the trends that will dominate in 2016.

  • Simon Hade is the COO of London-based F2P developer Space Ape Games, which operates two successful mobile strategy F2P games: Rival Kingdoms and Samuari Siege.

PocketGamer.biz: What was the most significant mobile gaming news of 2015?

Simon Hade: One of the most impactful changes on the mobile industry in 2015 was the emergence of YouTube influencers as a viable launch marketing strategy.

This year we saw multiple #1 games driven purely off the back of a single YouTube video, and development of an ecosystem of agencies and aggregators. That channel is maturing at a rapid pace and should continue to do so in 2016.

How did the focus of your business change in 2015?

In 2015 we launched Rival Kingdoms, a core RTS game that we as gamers wanted to play and felt passionate to develop and grow.

We continued to strengthen our customer service, making it a goal to become a leader in this area.

This launch lead to a major shift in our marketing strategy where we focused on community building rather than a traditional performance marketing based user acquisition funnel.

We continued to strengthen our customer service, making it a goal to become a leader in this area which we've found to be a weakness even among some of the best and most popular games/companies.

What do you predict will be the most important trends in 2016?

  • Brands driving CPIs: CPIs will continue to rise, but while this was driven predominantly by the big game developers in 2014-2015, in 2016 it will be driven at least equally by big brands moving more of their digital brand budget to channels previously owned by the performance marketers, and as a result majority of new entrants on the charts will be well executed games with well known IPs.
  • Chinese Break out: At least one Chinese game and one Chinese developer will break into top 20 in the West. We'll also see many investments into western game companies by Chinese companies. On the flip side, we won’t see much from Japanese or Korean companies in the West.
  • Higher barriers to entry: Funding for anyone who has not had a hit will contract, with more opting for publishing deals as they are unable to raise capital to break out. This is a combination of player expectations regarding production values and the cost to acquire users. Good news for those who have already established themselves, or have the ability to acquire small studios, but bad news for new start ups who have not reached scale.

What was your favourite mobile game of the year?

It has to be Rival Kingdoms. I still play every day with a group of people I've known online for nearly three years across various games.

Simon Hade eats Space Ape's dog food

What's your New Year's resolution and what resolution would you enforce on the industry?

We're looking to hire 50 new employees in the next 12 months.

We recently moved into new offices and our resolution for 2016 is to fill them up with the most talented developers from around the world.

We're looking to hire 50 new employees in the next 12 months and want to maintain our reputation as the best place to work for the most talented developers who want to make mobile games for gamers.

We're also launching an amazing new strategy game our players will love, in partnership with one of the planet’s best known brands.

You can check out all of our 2015 in Review interviews here.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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