Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Alicia P. Méjica, Senior Business Development Manager at Tilting Point. She speaks about user (re-)engagement and how to expand into SEA markets. Read more about Alicia in this interview:
Hi Alicia! What do you think are the most important factors to keep players engaged with your game?

Tough question! A lot can be said about best practices around community management, retention mechanics and others, but since those depend so wildly on your type of game, distribution platform and target audience, let me give that question a twist. My area of expertise in this regard is actually attrition prevention and re-engagement, and I don’t think these two are discussed enough. 

Behavioral pattern detection is a fascinating rabbit hole, but most of the time it is not easily accessible to small studios due to the price tag that comes with external tools and/or internal talent required. That being said, if you happen to have a portfolio of games and resources available, I would highly encourage you to consider using machine-learning to set up a gifting program to ease the users’ progress and a cross-promotion strategy to keep players engaged within your portfolio – thinking of the LTV of your studio as a whole and not on a per-game basis can be a game changer.

Luckily, there are other tools available for free to most developers: Live Ops Cards (Google Play) and in-app events (App Store) allow you to highlight new content or key events and will algorithmically show your game to users that have played it.  They are by design re-engagement tools that will automatically target the audience you want to go after, so don’t forget to use them! 

If your budget is tight and your game is available in platforms such as Microsoft Store or Steam, I would also recommend participating in their special sales beats: Summer Sales, Halloween, Black Friday, Christmas. All of these seasonal celebrations are an easy to access and free marketing opportunity to boost your game’s organic traffic via brand-awareness. I am sure I’m not the only player out there that simply forgets how much I was enjoying a title until I see it again as part of a bundle or collection in those stores! 

Last but not least: don’t forget to answer reviews on the stores (especially negative ones!) and keep a customer-centric attitude. Sometimes the simplest actions go a long way!

In your opinion, what are key factors to consider when European studios aim to expand into Southeast Asian markets?

From the game design perspective there’s plenty of aspects that should be taken into account, but what I feel people keep forgetting about is payments. I am not only talking about price points but also about payment methods.

According to Worldbank.org and Statista, in SEA between 43% and 66+% of the population don’t have access to a bank account. Prepaid cards, eWallets, carrier billing and a myriad of other methods are the driving force of eCommerce in these regions. Understanding this extremely divided and per-locale landscape can be overwhelming, so partnering with experts is key. Easier said than done though – identifying the best solution among all those buzzwords and pitches is not an easy task. 

My recommendation: 

  1. If your game has organic traction in SEA markets, trying out something is better than doing nothing. Do a strong technical research to ensure the solution you adhere to is not a nightmare to implement and maintain and it’s solid in terms of fraud detection!
  2. Always ask for a list of games that have already implemented the solution and reach out to those studios to get their perspective on the matter.
  3. Pay special attention to the terms of your contract and also don’t be afraid to ask for a Minimum Guarantee or Development Fee.
  4. Keep an eye on fees and know those will depend on a per-partner basis. The payment solution provider will give you an average -if you want to be wary of costs, make sure you understand the fees in their most popular methods! Also, make sure you understand at which point of the waterfall those are deducted.

 A note of warning if you customize price points per market – make sure you put in place safety measures, especially in PvP games. You wouldn’t want your users getting your juicy bundles for a big discount with the help of a VPN!

Are there any essential skills or interests that facilitate moving into a professional business development role?

Sticking to must-haves, the obvious ones are social skills, adaptability and having (or being able to temporarily mutate into) an outgoing personality. I definitely think my production and marketing background has given me a robust stepping stone in this new role, but obviously that’s very particular to my personal experience. What I’d say is indispensable is that, regardless of your background, you take the time to understand the whole business and spend time with different teams to understand what their usual pain points, frustrations and blockers are. In the end, the “development” part of Business Development means you need to make everyone feel safe to help move things forward!

If I had to list some other skills that may not be in the front line for everyone, I would say active listening (a lot of times, people are already telling you how to convince them!), and creativity (tough contract negotiation? Outside of the box there’s probably a solution..). 

When it comes to interests, I definitely feel like my fascination for communication and cultural variety has helped me a lot. If you want to deep-dive into this topic, I can only recommend “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer. I read it for the first time in 2017 and I keep using it regularly!

Thanks for this interview, Alicia!

Alicia’s links: LinkedInTwitterTilting Point

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brugmann