Interview

Speaker Spotlight: PeopleFun’s Chief Executive Officer, Lead Game Designer and Manager of User Research discuss the significance of data-driven user engagement strategies

Meet the superstar experts that will be leading the conversation next week at Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle

Speaker Spotlight: PeopleFun’s Chief Executive Officer, Lead Game Designer and Manager of User Research discuss the significance of data-driven user engagement strategies

There’s less than a week to go until the leading b2b conference for the mobile games industry descends upon the West Coast for networking galore, insightful discussions and good times – the anticipation is building! We could not be happier to share with you some of the incredible speakers that will be joining us to share their wisdom and expertise at our upcoming Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle next month.

This May 9-10, we are welcoming hundreds of the game industry’s finest speakers to share their expertise with us on 16 diverse topic tracks covering the most pressing issues facing the industry today. You can view our stellar speaker line-up so far here to get an idea of the level of incredible talent that will be joining us in Seattle. The immense wisdom and insight that our talented speakers bring to our conference is a major part of what makes ours the number one b2b mobile gaming conference. To give you a sneak preview at what you can expect from our conference, we are spotlighting some of our most highly anticipated speakers to showcase the fantastic talent and top-tier businesses that will be sharing their insights with us next month.

We recently spotlighted Fundementally Games’ Oscar Clark. You can catch up on our speaker spotlights so far here.

Next up, we’re spotlighting a dynamic trio from PeopleFun: Chief Executive Officer Carol Miu, Lead Game Designer Ted McCormick and Manager of User Research Daniel Choates. Read on for a brief overview of each of their backgrounds.

Carol is Chief Executive Officer at PeopleFun, one of the world’s top developers of popular casual mobile games including Wordscapes and Word Stacks. She has managed large, distributed teams internationally and particularly enjoys growth leadership. Prior to the CEO role, Carol served as Chief Product and Analytics Officer at PeopleFun, where she oversaw product strategy and business performance across the portfolio, as well as built and grew an impressive group of product managers, analysts, and user researchers across game teams. Carol started her journey in free-to-play mobile gaming first at Boss Fight Entertainment on the hit mobile roleplaying game (RPG) Dungeon Boss, then at Scopely as Lead Product Manager on The Walking Dead: Road to Survival. Before joining the gaming industry, Carol was a university marketing lecturer and an economic expert in antitrust, intellectual property, and consumer law.

Also joining us is Ted (Theodore) McCormick. Ted left a career in education technology to pursue his dream of game development at Southern Methodist University’s Guildhall Graduate Program in 2017, where he graduated with his cohort’s Design Honors award. At PeopleFun, Ted started as the Lead Designer of Blockscapes, helping to successfully balance its IAP economy, and design the foundations of its Block Theme metagame. In 2021, Ted was promoted to his current role of Lead Game Designer, and a Design Lead of Wordscapes, designing myriad new Live Ops features such as Star Rush, several Butterfly Events, and many other projects currently in the works. Prior to PeopleFun, Ted worked as a Game Designer at Nerve Software, where he worked on a number of different prototypes and contracts. This included helping to release Doom 1 and 2 on consoles and mobile devices, and personally overseeing the release of the popular Add-Ons feature, allowing custom mods to be playable and accessible by a casual audience.

Rounding out the trio is Daniel Choates. Daniel is an experienced games user researcher connecting development teams to their player audiences through a mix of qualitative and quantitative user research methods. By providing insights into how players interact with and feel about both new and existing products, Daniel and the PeopleFun user research team expedite decision making and mitigate risk. He has been conducting user research on mobile free-to-play and premium PC titles for the past seven years, after receiving a Master's in Experimental Psychology with an emphasis in Human Factors.

Join us on May 9-10 for an insightful session where Carol, Ted and Daniel will pull back the curtain on how the studio has not only created thriving titles, but has also developed a successful blueprint for introducing new features to continue to keep players engaged with their games.

PocketGamer.biz: If you could give other mobile games companies one piece of advice, what would it be?
PeopleFun: Focus on your people. In order to develop great games, you need great, motivated individuals behind them. At PeopleFun, professional development and advancement opportunities are a huge priority for us. Something that has worked well for our studio is we’ve taken a highly unique approach to ensure that everyone has a voice in the room when it comes to decision-making on our games by training Wordscapes, Bricks n Balls, Wordscapes Search, and Blockscapes product owners from diverse backgrounds, including engineering, production, design, and product management.

Where are the next big opportunities in the mobile games market?
With so many games out on the market today, there is a huge opportunity for developers to really hone their data and analytics and user research skills in order to truly understand what motivates and inspires their players. It’s not enough to only have a strong game concept or design if you can’t find ways to continually keep players engaged while listening to and implementing their feedback. Don’t worry – we’ll be covering ways others can do just this in our session at Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle!

What is your biggest aspiration/goal in mobile gaming?
At PeopleFun, our biggest goal is always to continue developing hit games through a smart, data-driven, and innovative approach. We want to understand what the market is looking for, and deliver those experiences through the games we create. Most importantly, we want our games to continue being a fun outlet for people.

What key trend should we be paying attention to in the next 12 months?
Mobile gaming saw a massive surge of players and time spent during the pandemic, and we should expect that this trend is here to stay. In fact, eMarketer predicts US mobile gaming will “continue its upward climb,” noting gaming app time will account for about 13% of all US app time this year, and will remain above 12% for the foreseeable future. For game developers, this welcomes a big opportunity to build our communities, as well as a good challenge to create games that will appeal to broader, more diverse audiences.

Can people get in touch with you at the event? What sort of people would you like to connect with?
Connecting with our industry peers is exactly why we attend great events like Pocket Gamer Connects. We are always happy to speak with individuals who may have questions about our session that they didn’t get to ask during Q&A, or who generally want to know more about life at PeopleFun. Please come find us at the event!

Meet the experts in-person
There’s no place like Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle to connect with incredible industry leaders like Carol, Ted and Daniel. Don’t miss out on attending our West Coast conference – secure your seat now and get early access to our meeting platform to schedule all the meetings and see who all will be joining us in Seattle come May.

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