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Robert Antokol: Mobile gaming sees extra adjustments in 6 months than different industries see in years


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Every few months, I’ve stayed in contact with Robert Antokol, CEO of Playtika, a cellular sport agency with tasks like Slotomania and a $7.3 billion valuation. And I’ve needed to ask him what he thinks concerning the state of the gaming trade. We’ve had this dialog as a result of a lot as modified.

“It’s a very big question because a lot of things have happened in our very big industry,” Antokol stated. “Every six months in our time is like four or five years in other industries. We are in really different times. But I can tell you that in this new time there are a lot of new opportunities coming.”

I famous that we see much more uncertainty available in the market now. Geopolitics have reared some ugliness with the battle in Ukraine, enterprise capital investments have slowed as the general public markets get uneven, and tech startups are seeing valuations beginning to drop. I puzzled if that can spill into the sport trade and make acquisitions occur once more.

“This is the main topic right now in our industry. As you said, two years ago, in the pandemic, everyone thought it’s going to be a big huge happy party,” he stated. “In the last year and a half, I never saw my career of 25 years so many new startups, so many new companies. And the valuation becomes higher. In the last few years, it was really a challenge to look at a new company because the valuations became crazy.”

Then, within the final three months, the whole lot got here to a cease, he stated. Mobile sport firms noticed that it wasn’t straightforward to develop income per person anymore, because it was at the start of the pandemic. The price per set up, or the promoting price to achieve a brand new person, has doubled within the final 12 months, he stated.

“This is a big, huge problem,” he stated.

In the final three months, we noticed one of the best outcomes grew to become a lot more durable as a result of it grew to become more durable to boost new rounds on the bigger valuations, Antokol stated. That manes that extra firms can be targets for M&A offers. And that atmosphere for startups is not going to get higher for maybe 16 months, he stated. And Playtika is adjusting to cope with this new atmosphere.

Where Playtika’s technique by no means adjustments

Playtika's core services
Playtika’s core companies

Part of Playtika’s technique by no means adjustments. Antokol belives sport firms can drive retention increased with dwell operations (dwell ops), reminiscent of tournaments or vacation occasions or different new content material in current video games. Keeping your current gamers glad is healthier than spending some huge cash on buying new gamers, who could or could not stick round and who could or could not spend cash. Antokol stated Playtika by no means grew its enterprise by spending lots on person acquisition.

“Our main goal is to always think about retention, keeping players in the game,” he stated. “You can do it by understanding the users and better knowledge about tools.”

With Apple’s current privateness adjustments, it’s more durable to trace customers and so person acquisition spending isn’t as environment friendly. And so the time of retention has come to the forefront. Playtika’s video games like Slotomania develop by retaining their customers for years after which including new customers by way of group progress.

Playtika additionally invested closely in AI know-how that may assist it perceive person habits higher and what particulars result in higher retention. And Playtika cooks new video games for a very long time, altering particulars by way of gentle launches and ultimately getting the person retention proper.

“This is giving us the exact advantage that we need right now,” Antokol stated.

That’s what it did with the current launch of Switchcraft, developed by Playtika’s Wooga division, Antokol stated. At the identical time, Antokol has to persuade sport builders to stay with their current video games, quite than rolling over to new ones, by giving the builders the problem of getting customers to come back again each day.

IDFA influence a 12 months later

Playtika has 35 million daily active users.
Playtika has each day lively customers within the tens of hundreds of thousands.

A 12 months in the past, Apple centered extra on person privateness over focused adverts with adjustments to its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). It made it more durable to trace customers with out their permission, and made it lots simpler for customers to decide out of monitoring.

Antokol stated his firm all the time depended by itself know-how, quite than counting on different know-how on different platforms. And so he believes the transition for Playtika was higher. Others have been hit by an increase in promoting prices as a result of they relied on person acquisition to feed new customers into their video games and generate extra revenues. This is the place Antokol stated once more that AI know-how helped Playtika perceive what was taking place in video games in a shorter time.

“It is important to give security to the players, it’s important to pay attention to the privacy of the players,” he stated. “It’s important because it has become a jungle. So I’m happy with the change.”

Doing dwell operations in 2022 is simply as essential as ever, and the important thing to doing updates which are fashionable is to remain in contact with the group, Antokol stated. If you perceive the group and what they need, then it’s simpler to provide you with the dwell operations that hold them coming again to the sport. The forms of occasions vary from face-to-face occasions now to in-game occasions.

Dealing with geopolitics

Robert Antokol is CEO of Playtika.
Robert Antokol is CEO of Playtika.

I famous that Israeli companies have had lengthy and shut relationships with Ukrainian sport builders. How did the battle have an effect on the corporate?

It’s a giant subject of the day, he stated. When Playtika began greater than a decade in the past, the corporate had 10 folks in Israel and 10 folks in Ukraine.

“We are very close to the country, and it’s a huge tragedy that is happening right now and I hope it will end as soon as possible,” he stated. “I’m very emotional about this subject.”

Playtika moved various folks into Poland and Romania. He famous that the operations of Playtika are based mostly in Israel and that the corporate is able to modify to the adjustments. He stated he is aware of firms are struggling and he hopes to see peace.

“As a company, we are thinking about the future,” he stated.

I requested if investor habits modified on account of the battle. Over the current weeks, Antokol stated that buyers have been ready. Playtika itself has invested in 5 completely different firms within the final three months. So he stated it’s essential to offer stability for the startups. He nonetheless sees superb groups making superb video games.

The expertise wars

Playtika's employee bus.
Playtika is using the IPO bus.

The expertise wars are persevering with. Antokol stated the pandemic gave proficient folks an opportunity to work in numerous areas whereas working at dwelling. That has been difficult to firms like Playtika that had a DNA the place they labored collectively within the workplace.

Now they’re working in a hybrid manner, and it’s an incredible strategy to work, Antokol stated.

“We see that people are moving very fast from one company to another. I think in the last eight months investing in our employees and invest in our players are at the top,” he stated.

But the final six months or so have seen much less motion between firms. I requested Antokol how he retains sport builders, who usually need to create new issues, glad with engaged on dwell operations on the identical video games as a substitute of creating model new ones.

He stated that the pandemic made the communities greater, and the builders love working with a rising group.

“This is my job to keep them excited about what they’re doing,” he stated.

Blockchain video games and the metaverse?

Antokol is happy about each blockchain video games and the metaverse.

“I believe we were in the middle of revolution. The industry needs new platforms, and I think this is going to be the next big platform,” he stated. “I believe myself in metaverse and blockchain and they will accompany other new technologies.”

He believes that they are often utilized to current video games, quite than model new video games.

“This is our challenge. This is how we challenge our employees,” he stated.

While he needs to put money into the brand new issues, they aren’t going to occur subsequent month.

“It’s important because I believe it’s going to be the new platform,” he stated. “They’re going to change the world and we as a company are going to be there.”

The influence of the massive acquisitions

Playtika's new brand motto is infinite ways to play.
Playtika’s new model motto is infinite methods to play.

Asked how the largest sport offers are going to alter the trade, Antokol is impressed that the largest firms like Microsoft and Take-Two Interactive will now have actually huge cellular gaming divisions. That implies that cellular will simply be one in every of a number of legs in a video games enterprise.

“There are many challenges about managing,” he stated. “Overall, I think this is where the world is going. Consolidation.”

But Antokol isn’t positive how the massive firms will do with complicated companies throughout the PC, console, and cellular industries. Add blockchain gaming to that and it’ll add new complexities.

“Right now, we are the biggest player in the mobile world. We’re really happy with the competition, and now we’re going to compete against someone,” he stated.

I requested Antokol what it means to see an enormous leisure firm like Netflix transfer into video games. He thinks it’s a wise transfer because the trade consolidates with offers like Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

“The big, giant independent companies want to be everywhere,” he stated. “And this is a smart move for them. They have huge amounts of content. Now they need the platform, and they need the tools to bring the content to mobile. For a small company, it’s really hard to grow. It’s an exciting time.”

As for the final phrase on Playtika, the corporate is studying what it’s wish to be a public firm, Antokol stated. He stated the corporate needs folks to grasp it’s a manufacturing know-how firm, with greater than 2,000 folks and plenty of AI. Antokol needs buyers to grasp extra about that.

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