Speaker Spotlight: Tilting Point's André Cohen on IDFA and the evolution of data in games

PGC Digital #4 kicks off November 9th

Speaker Spotlight: Tilting Point's André Cohen on IDFA and the evolution of data in games

Pocket Gamer Connects Digital has returned once again, set to bring together some of the finest voices in the games industry and beyond.

PGC Digital #4 takes place on November 9th - 13th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

The conference spans across five days and will feature a broad selection of tracks, talks and speakers, as well as various fringe events and a new and improved meeting system. For more details on PGC Digital and to book a ticket, head to the website.

Today's spotlight is on André Cohen, head of data science at Tilting Point. Cohen will be heading down to PGC Digital for a presentation called 'IDFA: How the right publisher can help you choose your tools, partners and prepare your data to avoid the apocalypse. Not the catchiest title, but Cohen promises to deliver a wealth of experience on partnerships, the impact of IDFA changes and more. Tell us a bit about your company?

Tilting Point is a free-to-play publisher that helps co-develop and grow live games using our marketing and product expertise, proprietary technology, as well as an annual user acquisition (UA) budget of $132M in capital funding that we use to invest in these games.

We call Tilting Point a progressive publisher since we work to progressively build deeper relationships with our partners as we get to know each other and continue to grow their titles. We might begin scaling a game by managing its UA and then later progress in our partnership to producing creative assets for them, or even eventually co-developing a future title with them. Tilting Point has been around since 2012, and we’ve continued to grow since then to a staff of over 150 people with offices in New York, Barcelona, Boston, Kyiv, Seoul, San Diego and St. Petersburg.

We’ve scaled over 65 games and I’m excited to get to work on titles from major IPs, with some of Tilting Point’s most successful games including Star Trek Timelines, Warhammer: Chaos & Conquest, and SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off.

What does your role entail?

As Head of Data Science I oversee the entire data pipeline at Tilting Point: from ingestion, to preparation/standardisation, to ML tools used by the Growth and Product teams. This involves setting a direction for how data will be used today and in the future, and making sure we are ready for changes in the mobile ecosystem.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

Mobile gaming is a beautiful space where small virtual worlds with all the aspects of the real world are created and maintained by developers and publishers. Everything in a mobile game is observable and a candidate for optimization. And changes are fast, because it’s just 0s and 1s - no need to print new packaging, change price tags, deal with inventory, etc.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

There is an unfortunate misunderstanding of how complex the game industry is. I think there is always a way to enter the game industry if you are passionate about games. Often people think they need a specific degree or field of expertise but in fact, games require just about every skill - and once you have a foot in the door things will make a lot more sense. So don’t let lack of a degree or prior experience be the roadblock.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

Well, 2020 was very unexpected in terms of how the industry evolved. Early 2020 was a great time to nail down efficiency: data, tools, development processes etc. But then, the deprecation of IDFA signaled an entirely new cycle of evolution in tooling. Overall, 2020 was an exciting year of (re)-evaluation of tools and processes that are going to be with us for the next 2-5 years. It’s not every day when decisions made have such a long-lasting impact on games and their developers.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

Speed is going to be the name of the game. Speed in executing strategies (UA, game design, Ad monetization, you name it), speed of iteration (how fast can you tweak a number, how fast can you make small improvements to a user flow, etc), speed of testing (testing new vendors, new algorithms, new business strategies, etc), speed of evaluation (how fast do you know if an algorithm worked, a service has a good ROI, etc).

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

Mobile games have greatly increased in the seriousness of the work being done. Take data for instance: when I started I actually thought that I could develop my own event-based analytics system over the weekend. And to be fair, it kind of worked considering the times. But today, data is a full department. This level of detail can be seen in every element of a game. I would argue that just like when game consoles pushed the boundaries of tech, mobile games today push the boundaries of service providers, be it push notifications, dynamic pricing, or customer care.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

Connects has always had a special place for me as a way to reconnect with the industry. It’s very easy to lose track of the industry and all the great problems, projects, and successes going on. So back in the old days, meeting and having organic conversations post presentations were the best takeaways. After such a successful year in gaming with remote meetings, Connects will be an equal blast.

Want more?

The full conference schedule is now live, featuring 16 tracks and over 200 expert speakers. You can also check out our other track rundowns and coverage of previous Pocket Gamer Connects conferences ahead of the event itself.

Register for Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #4 today!