Speaker Spotlight: Julia Iljuk on how to grow your game's revenue

Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki takes place on September 12 - 13. We catch up with some of the stars from the mobile industry who'll be taking part

Speaker Spotlight: Julia Iljuk on how to grow your game's revenue

Pocket Gamer Helsinki 2023 is almost up on us.

Set in the picturesque and thriving city of Helsinki, Finland - the spiritual home of mobile games - our conference is attracting an all-star cast of speakers, panelists and attendees, all set to learn what’s hot, discover the latest tech and techniques and engage in two days of networking opportunities all through September 12 and 13. Clear your calendars - that’s just under a week away!

Network with top-notch industry experts and thought leaders, and gain valuable insights into the rapidly evolving gaming landscape. Pitch your game to our experts and meet the pros that can take your business to the next level. Immerse yourself in over 200 speaker sessions, engaging talks, panel discussions, and unparalleled networking opportunities. And stay ahead of the curve with the latest trends and connect with potential partners and investors in the games industry!

Find out more about the event and get your tickets here.

One such expert appearing at PGC Helsinki is Balancy’s head of growth, Julia Iljuk, who has spent the last seven years helping mobile game studios to create fun and profitable games. Iljuk is a known mentor in renowned accelerator programs and has a wealth of knowledge about integrating LiveOps strategies into your game and how to best boost monetisation metrics. Can you summarise what you are speaking about and why it’s important?

Julia Iljuk: With CPI rising and monetisation getting harder, mobile game developers are exploring ways to unlock the full potential of in-app purchases. In my session, I will focus on one effective tool that can multiply a game's revenue. We will discuss the fundamentals and trends in creating irresistible special offers backed by real case studies from my work at Balancy.

What is the most common mistake you see being made in the games sector?

Not giving early attention to monetisation and LiveOps is a common mistake. While the core product is important, many developers focus solely on that and delay LiveOps until after the soft launch.

This can result in needing substantial code refactoring to support new content delivery later on (it is time-consuming, costly, and can introduce new bugs). Also, retrofitting LiveOps into an existing game can limit its engagement and monetisation potential. In other words, you will not be flexible enough and will fall behind trends and best practices.

If you could give other mobile games companies one piece of advice what would it be?

Invest more in segmenting players and personalising their experiences today if you still don't do it. Each player sees value uniquely, and your game design and LiveOps team's goal is to pinpoint the perfect value proposition for specific player segments. It will open up new retention and LTV growth opportunities in your game.

Where are the next big opportunities in the mobile games market?

I believe in the potential of AI/ML to offer optimisation in games. While the artificial intelligence topic is overhyped, some use cases have proven to work - such as pricing optimisation.

Today, using ML models to adjust prices by country dynamically can quickly generate an additional 20-30% in revenue, according to our experiments at Balancy. Adding more parameters, user characteristics and purchase signals will bring even brighter results and help developers auto-adjust their offers at the optimal moment in the players' journey.

Still, this doesn't diminish the importance of designers' intuition and previous experience. Balancing manual and automated approaches will be the key to successful AI implementations in the near future.

What company do you admire most in the mobile games industry?

Like many others in the industry, I've been impressed by Metacore's growth journey. Beyond financial metrics, their innovative marketing strategy for casual games caught my attention. In an environment often cluttered with misleading ads and simplistic creatives, they've taken a significant leap forward with cinematic campaigns starring Kathy Bates and Pedro Pascal.

Also, observing Metacore's LiveOps strategy and how they boost revenue through events, special offers, and personalization techniques is an invaluable learning opportunity.

Another team worth watching is TreesPlease - they are working on a casual merge game, Longleaf Valley, that does good for the planet. Players earn tokens that translate into real-world tree donations through the Eden Reforestation Project. The seamless blend of entertainment and positive impact is always challenging, and the team is achieving it exceptionally well. I'm eagerly watching their journey following the seed investment.

What is the single biggest challenge facing the mobile games industry today?

Growing LTV in a saturated market when classic user acquisition rules do not work. Yet, these challenges pave the way for improving game quality and experimentation. I believe that LiveOps tactics offer studios a solution to grow even in hard times by crafting player-centric games.

What is your favourite ever mobile game?

Monument Valley by Ustwo Games - the best puzzle game of all time. I still remember the "wow, this is so unique" feeling from nearly a decade ago when I first opened it on my phone.

Is hypercasual gaming here to stay?

Hypercasual gaming will not disappear; it will adapt. This year, we witnessed an active shift from hypercasual to hybridcasual titles, with major publishers like SayGames, Voodoo, and Ketchapp showing exemplary achievements on the way. These studios are investing significantly in LiveOps tools to improve user segmentation, A/B testing, and in-game offers and facilitate this transition.

The hybrid monetisation approach will be the key to sustaining their success, but it demands substantial transformations in the workflow, lots of experimentation and learning to navigate IAP space effectively.

Find out more about PGC Helsinki

Check out the event's website here to get your tickets and find out what's on, what's where, where to stay and everything you need to know.

See you at the show!

Deputy Editor

Paige is the Deputy Editor on who, in the past, has worked in games journalism covering new releases, reviews and news. Coming from a multimedia background, she has dabbled in video editing, photography, graphic and web design! If she's not writing about the games industry, she can probably be found working through her ever-growing game backlog or buried in a good book.