Want to learn the best business insights from remarkable speakers at Slush 2023, but don’t have the time to watch the full speeches on YouTube?
You’ve come to the right place. Below is a summary of a conversation between Riccardo Zacconi (co-founder and longtime former CEO of King) and Sofia Dolfe (gaming investor and Partner at Index Ventures).
(psst: the notes were automatically generated with Wudpecker's AI notetaking tool. If you'd like to check these notes + transcript + audio recording without needing to log in, press here.)
<p class="h1-rich">🤏 TL;DR</p>
Riccardo Zacconi discussed the mobile gaming industry, emphasizing the importance of continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, and entertainment to retain users. He stressed the significance of having a culture of excellence in every aspect of product development and the importance of retention as a key metric for determining the success of a game. Action items include developing a culture of excellence, focusing on creating innovative products, monitoring and optimizing user retention, and implementing time-limited live ops events to keep users engaged.
<p class="h1-rich">✨ Summary</p>
Mobile Gaming Industry
- Riccardo discusses the surprising emergence of unicorn companies in the highly competitive mobile gaming industry, citing Dream Games as an example.
- He highlights the longevity of successful games like Candy Crush and emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, and entertainment to retain users.
Culture of Excellence in Product Development
- Riccardo stresses the significance of having a culture of excellence in every aspect of product development, where decisions are well-balanced and thought through.
- He explains that innovation is not always about inventing something entirely new but rather taking proven elements and combining them in a distinctive way.
- Riccardo shares how King took the match 3 game concept and added more levels and multiplayer features, which was innovative at the time.
Measuring Success and Retention
- Riccardo discusses the importance of retention as a key metric for determining the success of a game.
- He explains that a game with over 40% day-one retention is considered good, and Candy Crush had a day-one retention rate of 65% when it launched.
- Riccardo emphasizes the need to continually optimize and improve retention rates, as well as understanding when to make the decision to move on from a game with low retention.
Distribution and Marketing Strategies
- Riccardo shares King's chessboard strategy for scaling the company organically, starting with a small marketing investment and gradually increasing it based on the success of each cohort.
- He highlights the importance of integrating virality into the business model, such as offering incentives for users to invite friends to play.
- Riccardo mentions the significance of data infrastructure and analytics in understanding user behavior and optimizing marketing efforts.
Lessons from Early Years and Motivating Teams
- Riccardo reflects on the challenges faced during the early years of King, including near-bankruptcy and the shift from web to Facebook gaming.
- He emphasizes the importance of transparency, honesty, and treating employees as adults during difficult times.
- Riccardo shares how he motivated his team by being open about the company's challenges and involving them in finding solutions.
The Future of Gaming and AI
- Riccardo expresses his belief in the potential of AI in the gaming industry, particularly in areas such as performance marketing, user experience optimization, and personalized gameplay.
- He envisions smaller teams being able to innovate faster with AI as a tool, creating games where AI becomes a partner and adapts to individual player preferences.
Final Advice for Founders
- Riccardo emphasizes the importance of establishing a strong company culture and hiring talented individuals who can contribute to the company's growth and success.
- He encourages founders to be honest, transparent, and lead by example, treating others as they would want to be treated themselves.
- Riccardo advises founders to hire ahead of time and aim to bring in senior professionals who have experience and can help drive the company forward.
<p class="h1-rich">✅ Action Items</p>
- Develop a culture of excellence across every area of the product
- Focus on creating innovative and distinctive products
- Monitor and optimize user retention as a key metric
- Implement time-limited live ops events to keep users engaged