Top Tips... for entering the mobile space, by Volker Hirsch

Top Tips... for entering the mobile space, by Volker Hirsch

Monday, January 12, 2015 Totally Gaming

Mobile has entered the mainstream, but a lot of gaming operators struggle with the move across. asked Volker Hirsch, EVP and Managing Director EMEA, Milestone Entertainment, and the founder of Blue Beck, to provide his top tips on the subject.

Tip 1: Keep it simple

“If a user does not find what she needs quickly, she will go away. A specific mobile-centric approach to the UI design and associated user experience is therefore key to success. The fewer the number of taps – the touchscreen equivalent of clicks – the better. Make sure they can dive right into the action.

“If you need to provide for a sign-up, make it in stages. Let them play first, register in stages later. If they like what you offer, they will be happy to provide more and more information. If, however, your sign-up process involves 15 screens and 35 text fields, you’re probably toast.

“Games of chance are generally quite well suited for this since they offer, by definition, fewer options on gameplay than games of skill. However, do not let yourself be lured into thinking that it is, therefore, easier to produce compelling games of chance. The opposite is true: because you have less opportunities to tell a compelling narrative, designing the reveal to provide the impression of progress, participation and general delight is actually hard and deserves your whole attention. No short cuts!”

Tip 2: Distribution is easy (kind of). Distribution is hard.

“Distributing a mobile product has become very easy indeed. If you are going down the native route, there are virtually no boundaries to publish on Apple’s iOS devices. However, Google does not allow for iGaming apps, and it is by far the larger market, albeit one that does not monetise as well. A mobile “web app” – which really is a mobile webpage, normally done in HTML5 – can be readily made available from your existing online destination. You can also use ‘containers’ to wrap it into a native app in order to distribute it through the iOS App Store.

“To be discovered on the App Store is, however, an entirely different story. Amongst the more than 1.3 million apps available, it is easy to get lost. It is therefore vitally important to carefully plan the launch and associated marketing instruments. There are providers like Chartboost, Fuel, AppAnnie, Flurry, Tapjoy and many more that offer tools and services on various aspects to make your life easier. Tools are however only ever as good as their integration. Trying an “out-of-the-box” approach will normally lead to poor uptake and retention. Bear in mind that there are probably at least 500 alternatives to your game that are equally readily available.”

Tip 3: Diversity is key

“If you are gaming operator, make sure you add more than just one single app or game, unless you are a single-game brand. People are seeking fresh, interesting things and want new games all the time. Building out a platform and environment that enables that is key. For many operators, it makes sense to open the platform to third-party developers, too: more brains bring more ideas and more creativity. If you do that, make sure to offer a fair share, so that the developer actually can make a reasonable business case of it. Otherwise, there will be lots of tumbleweed on there!”

"People are seeking fresh, interesting things and want new games all the time. Building out a platform and environment that enables that is key." - Volker Hirsch

Tip 4: The mobile demographic is different, so plan for it

“Your users will likely be of a different ilk than your online or even your brick-and-mortar ones. And that is a good thing. The mobile demographic is younger, more tech-savvy and likes to experiment. However, you need to provide offerings that are right for this. They will not put up with boring single-action reveals. The mobile equivalent to penny slots has not yet been known to be a money-spinner.

“Spend time on delivering exciting and compelling game play. Delight them. It is possible. Case at hand: a game we developed for the Idaho State Lottery for their 25th Anniversary is still being played thousands of times every month more than six months after the anniversary celebrations ended and users could not actually win anything anymore. They still play!”

Tip 5: Mobile is sensor-rich. Use it.

“Modern smartphones can gather a lot of information about the user and the environment in which she is. This gives you a great toolbox to provide experiences that are contextually right without actually interfering with the regulated part of the game itself. Location, usage patterns, time, even weather (easily pulled in from the location when pegged against widely-available weather data) can all help to generate a highly customised experience that has the ability to delight the user.

Top Tip: Mobile first

“It is easier to derive a fixed online presence from a mobile product than the other way around. The smaller form factor and screen size of mobile devices makes designing for mobile a distinctly more challenging task. To expand is always easier than to reduce.”


Volker Hirsch will participate in a live debate entitled ‘From casual freemium to loyal and monetised: can real money gambling and social gaming converge to work together as one?’ at ICE Totally Gaming at Excel in London on Tuesday, February 3. Visit for further information.


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