The games industry plays host to an excellent cast of colourful and diverse individuals, from artists and coders to narrative designers and studio heads.
The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing. With each position requiring mastery in its field.
As such, seeing a game come together is a beautiful thing akin to a puzzle as an overall picture becomes whole. Of course, seeing that puzzle come together also takes a steady and guiding hand from senior members of companies.
To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the screen, and help others who may be keen to dive in, PocketGamer.biz has decided to reach out to the individuals who make up the games industry with our Jobs in Games series.
Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?
Matej Lancaric: Let me just briefly introduce myself, I’ve been in the games industry for five years. I am a true mobile marketing enthusiast and I work as a head of mobile marketing at games developer and publisher BoomBit where I am responsible for soft launch and global launch UA planning and strategy.
I develop multi-channel acquisition strategies and marketing campaigns that are designed to drive the overall growth. Together with my team I currently manage millions in profitable UA spend monthly in BoomBit mobile games across free and paid channels.
I also work as a user acquisition lead at Cellense, a data-driven company that focuses on getting games successfully into the market in the best possible shape with the most effective UA spend. Cellense also focuses on maximising game growth with Live-Ops and LTV support.
As a UA lead I am in charge of the development, planning and execution of acquisition marketing strategies for multiple game franchises, leveraging multi-million dollar budgets to drive profitable growth globally.
I have this weekly routine where I download featured games on the App Store to check their game mechanics, but also to have fun.Matej Lancaric
Last, but not least. I’ve been running my own marketing consultancy for almost four years helping several talented developers across the globe with multi-channel user acquisition strategies, soft launch and global launch planning and general marketing/business advisory.
How did you first get into games and how did you progress into this role?
I was trying to find a job while I was still studying and I found an open position as a performance marketing manager at Pixelfederation. So I contacted my (Counter-Strike) friend Martin, who was a CMO at that time. He told me that I am not experienced enough to manage their huge monthly budgets.
Then I found a job at a local marketing agency. After nine months, I was contacted by Martin, the CMO of Pixelfederation, to visit the offices and have a cup of coffee which ended up as an interview and I was in!
Fun fact is that I didn’t even know that was an actual job interview. I spent five years at Pixelfederation, starting as a UA manager and progressing to head of mobile marketing aftera couple of years.
Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?
Oh yes! I am a passionate gamer myself. I played games when I was young - starting with Age of Empires, Dungeon Keeper (my most favourite game), Theme Hospital, Doom, Quake, Counter-Strike, etcetera. I always wanted to know how game development works and how games are marketed.
I still love playing games. I have this weekly routine where I download featured games on the App Store to check their game mechanics, but also to have fun.
What did you study (if anything) to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?
I actually studied marketing at Comenius University in Bratislava. But the studies were oriented more on the traditional marketing rather than online marketing. It gave me good foundations, but everything I’ve learned was at a local marketing agency.
My advice here would be to start with internships or jobs at small devs. Everything I’ve learned I learned at a small marketing agency. SEO and PPC skills are great prerequisites for future app marketing jobs. These 'basics' are useful when you are dealing with ASO and user acquisition.
Create or write an incredible cover letter. Resumes are about what you did in the past, cover letters tell what you are going to do in the future.
I made an interactive presentation about the goals I want to achieve. It looked like a 2D mini platform game and after a couple of years I find it ridiculously bad. But all in all I got the job. Mission accomplished.
What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?
Well, I would say it’s the extreme ownership of the marketing creative process and user acquisition performance while leading strategic, high-volume experimentation on all key current and potential user acquisition channels.
I also find leading and mentoring my user acquisition and creative team as a very important part of the job.
Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?
In my opinion, everybody thinks they know how to do user acquisition in gaming. Even that they could run significant UA budgets with an immediate positive return on ad spend.
Also, in my opinion, there is a misconception that the benchmark for positive ROAS in the games industry is day 30. It could be true for one game, but could be very far from the truth for a different game.
It varies a lot and depends on your actual strategy. I have managed UA on several games with D30/D90 or D365 ROAS. All ROAS positive in the end. This is something everybody needs to understand.
It is hugely important to ensure that all the lessons from a failure will find their way into your life. It’s these lessons that will make you better.Matej Lancaric
If you want/need to have cash on your bank account fast, then you should aim for D30 or D60. If this is not the case, then you can aim for a longer period of recoupment and work with the budget as you wish according to your goal.
Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?
Actually, no. There is nothing that could change my mind to work in the games industry. Maybe the fact that the games industry is work hard, party even harder!
What other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?
The best advice I can give you is to create your opportunities and seize them. That may sound like a cliché, but I was hired just after finishing university with basically no experience. I created opportunities. I was smart. I got the job
Get in front of the people who can help you get the job. In our social world, brands and companies are telling you where and when they will be. Why aren’t you there? Especially small companies.
Take advantage of networking and attending conferences. Find the company of your dreams and use social media to your advantage.
I wasn’t paying very much attention to networking and socialising at the beginning of my career. That was my biggest mistake. Nowadays, when I attend conferences and events I try to connect with as many people as possible.
Watch webinars and listen to podcasts. There are several gaming-related podcasts such as Deconstructor of Fun, MobileGroove and the Level Up Gaming podcast by IronSource.
The mobile marketing world uses marketing automation, attribution, SDK’s, DSP’s and lots of other keywords. You may not have experience using or knowing them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t know how they work.
Watch/read/listen a lot and not only about marketing, but the whole app/gaming world. The mobile world is very dynamic, so never stop learning!
Be humble! Know that you don’t know much. Finding a mentor is as important as finding the right company. You’re going to take a good year learning what it takes to be a solid marketer and I’m telling you that you didn’t learn it in school.
Try to approach experts from the field and maybe if you are lucky enough you will find a mentor for free. You never know unless you try.
In the real world not everything goes according to your wishes. That’s my story, too. Of course I made mistakes, but I learned my lessons.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail. And fail fast. It is hugely important to ensure that all the lessons from a failure will find their way into your life. It’s these lessons that will make you better.
Looking for a job? Got a job vacancy to promote? Check out opportunities on the Career Wall at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019.
This article is part of our Jobs in Games Special for January.