In this interview we speak with Jochen Gary vice president of marketing for Stillfront Group. We discuss adapting to changes within the industry and how the future of mobile gaming will look as new capabilities become available.
Firstly, can you please introduce yourself and briefly explain your role within your company?
My name is Jochen Gary and I’m Vice President of Marketing and responsible for the Stillfront Group Marketing Hub.
Stillfront’s Marketing Hub is an internal marketing function that offers marketing services for Stillfront’s 23 game studios globally. The services range from full-service marketing and single services like ASO to consulting on a case-by-case basis.
One of the big advantages of Stillfront Group is that studios retain a lot of independence but can get access to very strong support from the group if needed.
What would you say has been the biggest change in the industry since you entered it?
Change has been a constant in our industry and throughout my career. I started working with web games, then the app ecosystem formed and now 90% of traffic is on mobile.
Campaigns used to be very specific in targeting and automation took over on all major networks. The most recent change in the industry is Apple's new approach to IDFA and the impact that it has had on the app marketing ecosystem.
Did you see the abovementioned change coming? If not, how did you adapt to it?
Change is normal in this young ecosystemJochen Gary
To some extent, yes. We had identified changes to mobile privacy regulations as a key potential change in our industry long before the actual changes were announced by Apple in 2020. Our way of working allows us to bring together experts from different areas quite quickly, be it UA managers, marketing tech or legal.
The changes resulted in short-term disturbances in the market and specific marketing channels suffered, but thanks to our operating model and our broad channel reach we were able to swiftly reallocate marketing investments to other channels and were able to cope with the changes.
Since Q3 2021, we have seen continuous high marketing investments across the group with return on ad spend well within our strict payback requirements.
Thinking back over the past couple of years, what is the biggest hurdle you've faced?
For me personally, it was eye-opening a few years back when I saw what people can achieve when you trust them with full responsibility and decision power. Mistakes will of course be made, but I saw people rocking it, making it happen because you let them. With distributed responsibility the whole team flourishes, and in hindsight I wish I would have given that trust to people much more and much earlier in my career.
Many app/game developers have moved away from in-app purchases in favour of subscription models. How do you feel about the current state of monetisation in the industry?
Many developers have added subscriptions to their monetisation models as a third pillar next to IAP and in-game advertising. I think players have begun to understand that to continuously add content to games, developers need to continuously monetise. Games-as-a-Service is now widely accepted by the ecosystem.
Where do you think the mobile gaming industry is headed in the next few years?
Mobile in general will continue to grow. New devices and 5G+ connections will provide even better graphics and experiences on mobile. Cross-platform will be even more important. Playing seamlessly across mobile, desktop, and partly console will be the new normal. We’ll likely see Google pushing in this direction on desktop as well.
With rising UAC and strong competition smaller developers will look even more for strong publishing partnersJochen Gary
Consolidation will be an ongoing trend. Current market conditions favour bigger groups like Stillfront, which can create economies of scale in marketing, game development and global reach.
I also think that environmental awareness will lead to more purpose-driven games. For example, in our game Big Farm: Mobile Harvest we regularly do plant-a-tree charity events to combine fun with helping the environment.
Technologies like AR and location awareness are becoming increasingly mainstream. Which, if any, technology excites you most?
While location awareness has compelling use cases it might be seen in a more critical light as data privacy is becoming a larger discussion. I personally look forward to the next big thing in AR. There are amazing use cases like home planning with augmented reality, but I still haven’t seen strong apps or people using it widely.
In gaming, web3 is very interesting and excites me. The concept of players owning parts of the game and being able to potentially use it somewhere in a metaverse is exciting. But there is still a long way to go in my opinion.