Interview

Square Enix's Karla Reyes on how product management can bring value to your players

Square Enix's Karla Reyes on how product management can bring value to your players

If you haven't heard, we recently launched PocketGamer.biz MasterClasses, a brand new series of deep-dive workshop sessions taking an in-depth look at practical games design topics.

We’re working with the finest industry experts to create professional, half-day activities featuring tutorials, lectures and breakout groups, all accessible from the comfort of your home office.

There are four workshops taking place on August 17-18 where you can expect to explore a range of key games design topics, from economy design and optimisation, to core design fundamentals and product management, to live operations and everything in between!

Ahead of the sessions next week, we're taking a closer look at each MasterClass and asking our expert hosts a few burning questions on what kind of content to expect, some key takeaways and who will benefit most from that particular session.

Today it's the turn of Karla Reyes, Product Manager at Square Enix. She will lead a session on Product Management – Bringing Value To Your Players from 10:00am (BST) this Tuesday August 18.

 

Reyes is a Product Manager on Square Enix’s Mobile Publishing team based in London. Prior to entering games, she worked in the FinTech and blockchain industries in product, analytics and strategic partnership roles at Visa and ConsenSys. Reyes approaches her work with a human-centred perspective and is especially passionate about representation, equality and inclusion in the industry and volunteers for BAME in Games and Code Coven.

I try to walk a mile in players’ shoes in order to empathise with them and understand what makes them tick, aiming to create best-in-class games that they value.

What does your role entail?

Product Management comes in different flavours and varies depending on context; however, one core pillar that I have found consistent across my PM roles is the ability to make objective data-driven decisions above personal opinions. I not only serve as an advocate for players, but I try to walk a mile in players’ shoes in order to empathise with them and understand what makes them tick, aiming to create best-in-class games that they value.

My responsibilities include market research and competitor analysis (this involves playing lots of mobile games!) to identify new opportunities and validate the viability of our team’s projects, evaluating developer studios to determine their suitability to partner with us and contribute to our game portfolio, proposing and managing user tests and collaborating cross-functionally with my team to make informed decisions on feature design and priorities.

What topic will you be covering in your MasterClass?

I will be covering concepts in design thinking/human-centred design and lean product management tools and methodologies that can be implemented during any stage of the development process.

During the workshop, we will explore:

  • Identifying your target audience via persona development and empathy mapping
  • Determining product/market fit via the value proposition canvas
  • Validating hypotheses via effective user research/testing methods

I will also address player segmentation and motivation models and product feature prioritisation methods. Even if someone has experience using any of these tools or methodologies, I find it very beneficial to iterate on frameworks like personas and the value proposition canvas and obtain as much feedback as possible, so a group workshop with industry colleagues provides an excellent platform for this!

Who is this MasterClass for?

This class welcomes anyone from an individual indie developer to developers from larger/AAA studios. All disciplines are welcome and encouraged to participate, but the content may be most relevant for product managers, UX designers, marketing/brand and UA managers.

Empathising with your end-user helps mitigate inefficiencies in the development process because everyone works together toward a common goal of addressing players’ wants and needs.

Why is it important for your games industry peers to gain a deeper understanding of your chosen topic?

The human-centred design methodologies that we will explore during the Masterclass serve as a conduit for alignment and a mutual understanding among teams when discussing their target audience and players.

Empathy mapping will help developers understand the nuances and complexities of their players and avoid simply reducing their target audience to a data point or conventional demographic category (e.g. Males ages 18-44). There is much more to unpack and unpick regarding what matters and motivates players, and I believe that understanding these values is essential to creating a successful product.

Furthermore, one of the biggest challenges product managers face is feature prioritisation. Deepening one’s understanding of what players truly value and which features would keep them engaged and spending in-game should help ease this process. From personal experience, empathising with your end-user helps mitigate inefficiencies in the development process because everyone works together toward a common goal of addressing players’ wants and needs.

Tell us a little bit about the key takeaways people can expect from the session

Participants should leave this class with an understanding of how to discover new market opportunities, identify target audiences, validate (or invalidate) assumptions via different testing methods and generate actionable data-driven insights to improve their games and increase player appreciation.

Participants should also leave the workshop with the knowledge and confidence to implement these tools within their own teams.

Finally, what are your thoughts on the games industry going forward? What major trends do you predict over the next 12 months?

We are already seeing this trend, but I anticipate the ‘games as a service’ model will further grow and that console games will continue to adopt monetisation and LiveOps models that started in mobile.

While blockchain technology may not be very rapid for people to adopt, as someone who previously worked in the industry, I think there is an opportunity for blockchain to catalyse a new wave of decentralised digital asset ownership.

Furthermore, with the continued amplification of underrepresented and marginalised voices and more flexible working opportunities, I think we can expect to see many more diverse games that highlight a wider range of cultures and stories across the industry as a whole.

Book today!

If you like the sound of Reyes' MasterClass, be sure to book your place now - tickets are limited so purchase your ticket today to avoid disappointment!

Multi-buy deals and corporate discount

Want to attend multiple MasterClasses? Book three workshops and get the fourth FREE!

Booking for multiple people? Take advantage of our 30% corporate discount for groups of six or more people from the same company.

For multi-buy or group discounts, please email sally.kevan@steelmedia.co.uk to discuss your bespoke package.

Editor

Steve is an award-winning editor and copywriter with 20 years’ experience specialising in consumer technology and video games. He was part of a BAFTA nominated developer studio as project manager for the UK’s first fully interactive digital TV channel. In addition to editing TheVirtualReport.biz, Steve contributes to PocketGamer.biz, PCGamesInsider.biz and BlockchainGamer.biz, as well as creating marketing content for a range of SMEs and agencies.

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