Casual games company Games2win has announced that it has achieved more than 25 million downloads from its mobile apps (on the iTunes/Android store), a target reached via generic and organically acquired downloads, without any marketing spend. On the occasion, afaqs! speaks to Alok Kejriwal, chief executive officer and co-founder, Games2win, about what fuels a game's virality, why creation of a global audience is crucial and what brands can do to exploit the gaming space.
So, what is the trick to creating successful, downloadable games? The real charm, reveals Kejriwal, is going after what he calls the 'Squeal Factor'. "The real trick in making viral games is to make stuff that people see as slices of real life," he explains, going on to give two examples.
The first one is the game 'Parking Frenzy', which, he shares, draws on a very specific pain point with women, namely, their poor driving skills (he apologises profusely for using this oft-repeated, gender biased example, of course).
"Because we gave them (women) a wheel in their hand that almost made them drive, there was a 'Squeal Factor' or 'I can do this' feeling attached to it," he says, insisting that it is these 'OMG moments' (acronym for Oh My God) that are shared online and breed virality.
"Letting people do something through your game that they've never been able to do in real life creates massive virality. This is because of a simple insight -- delight is always shared," Kejriwal elaborates.
The second example is the game 'Super Mom'; it is based on the insight that any game with a baby in it tends to make people happy. "It's a 'delight game'," he says, as it gives people a sense of being able to do something they may not be able to in real life.
Parking Frenzy has proved to be the big winner for Games2win, accounting for 13.7 million of the total downloads. Super Mom came in at No 2 with 4.4 million downloads. As for platforms, iTunes added up to 17.3 million downloads as opposed to only 8 million for Android.
Basically, both his examples imply that giving people the opportunity to perform difficult tasks in a simulated, virtual environment does the trick, each time. And, all games from his stable are targeted at tween girls across the globe.
Which brings us to the next trick - focus on making the game look international instead of worrying about including local niceties. Once it looks like a generic game rather than a local game, it automatically appeals to a large variety of people, he says.
While there is merit in the truism that teenagers are the same worldwide, won't there be cultural differences in an Indian tween girl vis-à-vis a tween girl overseas? So, how does a game developer tweak the game to suit his TG (target group) across nations?
Demystifying the revenue angle, Kejriwal says that advertising can make a lot of money if one is able to get international eyeballs to one's games. Advertising is almost equal to or more than the value of in-app purchases and downloads of games, according to Games2win research. "This indicates that building advertising as a model is a good idea," Kejriwal says.
As far as the evergreen question 'Why aren't brands adequately exploiting this mobile gaming space' goes, Kejriwal is optmistic. According to him, today, most brands are caught between the operator-dominated Nokia handset regime and the democratic smartphone regime. However, he predicts that in around six to nine months' time, one will see a lot more brands experimenting with Android games. Moreover, brands will use these games as a communication platform more than ever before, as they will begin to understand that the space is meant for building affinity over time and not for making an instant sale.
For the record, Games2win claims to own over 700 proprietary games and apps. It has two online games portals, games2win.com and gangofgamers.com.