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Speaker Spotlight: CleverTap Gaming's Solomon Ruiz-Lichter on why some games lack originality

We sit down with CleverTap's senior director of global gaming to chat ahead of PGC Toronto
Speaker Spotlight: CleverTap Gaming's Solomon Ruiz-Lichter on why some games lack originality
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Our return to Canada for Pocket Gamer Connects Toronto is now just around the corner, and we have some of the biggest names in the industry joining us!

This is our second time in Canada, and we’re returning to the dynamic, diverse city of Toronto for an even bigger and better conference after the massively successful debut of PG Connects Toronto 2022. Attendees from the global games industry will gather in Toronto next week to network, discover, pitch and learn from the world’s leading authorities. We'll bring together a true cross-section of the games industry, from fresh-faced indie designers to experienced CEOs and investors. The conference will take in everything: android and iOS, hot AI trends, PC and console, web3, VR/AR and more will be covered, across multiple track rooms. Our speakers and panellists will share their expert insight into design and development, monetization and growth, new technologies, company culture and loads more.

We have a star-studded speaker lineup featuring the best of the best and some of the biggest names in the games industry will be present at our Toronto conference, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to share with you a deeper look into some of those stellar personalities. Each speaker is a powerhouse trailblazing presence in the games industry within their own right, and we are really looking forward to hearing the brilliant insights and expertise they have to share with us this month!

We spoke with CleverTap Gaming's Solomon Ruiz-Lichter, who is the Senior Director of Global Gaming and overseas global go-to-market strategy for gaming, working with clients like Tilting Point, Big Fish Games and Electronic Arts. They'll be part of the New Tricks: Creating Innovative Monetisation Tactics panel in our Monetiser track on Wednesday 19th. What’s the most common mistake you see being made in the games sector?

Solomon Ruiz-Lichter: Lack of originality in Games. It's easy to jump on the latest wave because a new game became a smash hit or viral success. It's a viable short-term business strategy. (You can make money doing it). But there are longer tail down-sides game makers need to be cognizant of. At a macro-level, it ultimately floods the market with clones. And at a micro-level (impacting your business) it may attract the types of players you don't want (the kind who never ever spend).

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

As a free-to-play guy who lives in that ecosystem, I have to give a shout out to Mihoyo (the makers of Genshin Impact). If we're going to talk about monetization, we have to start there. They've managed to do something very special in their game mechanics and design that drives players to spend continuously and frequently (not an easy feat in the Western Market) without major hate and diatribes directed at you from out in the player community (places like Reddit, Discord, etc). The frequency with which they add high quality content is a big part of it I think, and also some novel things they do with how they pace and motivate goal progression. Obviously their success speaks for itself, but because of their game maker chops - I think they will continue to sustain.

I'm also really excited about new studios and publishers like Fortis who are rethinking game design in new and innovative ways. They're challenging long-held design norms in the game world and questioning why things are they way they are. Everyone has a role to play and folks who challenge the status quo are very crucial in testing things out and pushing the gaming space forward. I see Fortis as potentially one of those key players (no pun intended).

What’s your favourite ever mobile game?

I would have to say it's a tie between Madden Mobile, one of few more core games I will make time for as a huge American football fan (Go Raiders!), and a couple retro mid-core games like Legendary Axe and the mobile version of Gradious, both side-scrolling NES throwbacks..

What game has been on your phone the longest?

Lately in my macro player journey (my life) I'm a big casual guy - mostly because I am super busy. I play games to unwind, decompress and relieve stress. I try to get into more core games but it's hard to find the time these days between work and kids.

So right now it's Cooking Craze, by Big Fish Games. It's a time and skill-based game where you run a donut/smoothie shop and you have to serve customers before they get angry. I love the game because it takes me back to a simpler time in my life as a young person in the food service industry, and the mechanics and progression are super satisfying. The art is also great, it really pops.

What was the fundamental appeal of the mobile games industry that brought you to it?

I'm on the tech provider side, so for me it's pretty simple. As an old enterprise mobile MarTech veteran, I've partnered and consulted with nearly every vertical industry (sorry for the awful vendor speak), eCommerce, CPG, Media/Entertainment, Travel, FinTech, Hospitality, etc.

Before I started at Leanplum (now CleverTap Gaming), my experience working with folks in the Gaming space was limited. This was several years back now. I have to say, out of every industry I've consulted with, Gaming folks are by far the smartest, most rewarding to partner with and most informal. I love that about the games industry. The people. Also, I grew up in the golden era of arcade and then console gaming, so every day working with smart folks like you all is very nostalgic for me.