From Candy to Casino: How Mobile Games Make Money (Part 2: People)

05 October 2016 By Alastair Cleland

1514 Original

Talented people are flooding into mobile gaming. With millions of users spending an unprecedented amount of their free time playing games, it’s a booming industry, and there’s big money to be made. Ambitious developers, marketers, designers and strategists - inspired by mobile gaming’s huge career potential - all want a piece of the action.  

We should know! We’ve recruited digital gaming professionals since 2001, as companies have migrated their lucrative gambling products online, then to mobile platforms. We’ve spoken to (and placed) 10,000’s of experts in mobile gaming and app development, at all stages of companies’ growth.

What have we learned? Well, crucially, we understand that ‘tech success’ is about more than ‘tech’ itself. It is, without fail, always about people. To succeed in a new enterprise, you always need people who understand their craft and exude spirit, creativity and hard-graft.

So, following on from Part 1 - Strategy – in which we explored the business models and tactics games have used to achieve success...

In Part 2 we’re sharing:

  • The key roles involved in mobile gaming success.

  • Explainers of specialist industry terminology and job titles.

  • Day-to-day tasks – helping you identify where you’d fit best.

Like what you see? Head over to our current jobs page to apply direct for our roles in Europe, USA, Asia and worldwide.

Key Mobile Gaming Roles: Who? What? Why?

There’s a definite myth that apps and games area all made by ‘bedroom startups’, coming ‘out of nowhere’ to ‘disrupt big players’. In reality, successful games are, by-and-large, run by large, well-organised companies. High calibre teams work together and act fast to maximise ever-changing opportunities.

Achieving mobile gaming success - building the best games, attracting the most players and making healthy profits – simply isn’t a job for one or two people. New ideas are, of course, vital, but bringing in $1m+ a day in revenues requires a highly skilled, well-organised team of specialist developers, designers, business analysts, marketers, creatives and technicians.

Whether you’ve worked in iGaming or game production before or are completely new to it, your skills could play a crucial part in games success:

  • Strategists – At the top of the pile, strategists spot gaps in the market, initiate the launch of new games and oversee the full portfolio. Chief of the strategists are often CEOs or territory managers. An eye for strategy, though, is a skill hiring managers look for at all levels and across all specialisms.

  • Product Managers – Comparable to media ‘producers’, product managers oversee each individual game. They know exactly what makes their game successful, and how to increase the revenue it generates. What makes a great product manager? Some current and past product managers share their thoughts on Quora

  • Designers – Fundamentally, the most successful games have brilliant design at their core. Visual design focusses on look and feel, but there’s also UX (user experience) design to consider: how does a game play? Is it easy to pick up? Does it have addictive qualities?

  • Developers – Developers bring game designs to life, using whatever code is required. Back-end developers construct the functionality, logic and systems. Front-end developers provide the user-visible components, in collaboration with designers. Developers face the ever-evolving challenge of adapting games to the hardware and software players use: from Android to iOS, smartphones to tablets and beyond. Good developers are fast, efficient, focussed, committed problem solvers. No mean feat!

  • CRM Analysts / Managers – Once live, games gather an active community of players. CRM managers collate, interpret and act on the data this brings in. Real skill comes in exploring beyond the headline figures, delving into individual interactions. Are players getting bored by level 23? Why does the average user only play for 5 minutes a day, and how can we push it up to 6 minutes? 

  • Copywriters – Communicating effectively with each individual player is partly the responsibility of writers. Which phrase would best explain the workings of the game, or encourage that next in-app-purchase? It’s the job of the copywriter to write, test and repeat. And with the app market an increasingly global market, translation is often integral too.

  • ASOs (App Store Optimisers) – Just like their search-engine-focussed counterparts (SEOs), ASO’s primary function is to ensure your game hits the #01 spot on iOS App Store and Android Play Store. It’s not just about ‘keywords’, though – it’s about making sure every aspect of the listing (imagery, copy, reviews, awards) draws players towards that all-important “install” button.

  • Business Intelligence Analysts – Mobile games collect terabytes of data, from an individual players’ actions all the way up to an overview of global usage. Working with strategists, BI analysts marry this data with their understanding of industry trends to predict – and influence – player trends.

  • Affiliate Marketers – Affiliates build audiences, then ‘refer’ them on to their ‘affiliated’ publishers’ games. The crucial skill is ‘building audiences’. How do they do that? Through running successful blogs, media, listings websites and other online channels.

  • PRs – For a mobile game to make it into national media, it takes something special. Such high profile coverage is usually the work of top PR professionals. PRs, though, also work the niche media and conduct influencer outreach campaigns, all to ensure the widest spread of media coverage for a game.

  • Customer Service Representatives – Whilst most games’ interactions with players are entirely automated, for some enquiries, only a human will do. Customer service representatives are the front-line of response. Teams often have to include speakers of numerous languages, when a game is distributed in numerous territories.

  • Infrastructure Technicians – The vast majority of games are deployed through either Apple’s iOS App Store or Android’s Play Store. But that’s just the marketplace – apps and games actually live on servers all around the world. Setting up and maintaining these systems is the job of infrastructure technicians. Many game developers, of course, use ‘cloud’ servers to publish their work, thereby outsourcing a lot of these technicalities.

  • Professional Services – Legal and financial expertise is a critical component of any mid- to large-scale mobile gaming operation. Particularly when it comes to iGaming or gambling regulation, meeting legal requirements in each different territory is essential. And, as with any business, access to finance and effective financial management supports growth. Game developers often contract these services to begin with but, as they grow, require in-house support for their plans.

  • Operational Support – With all these skilled team members required to run a successful game, you’ll need a team just to manage the team. From project management to HR, talent resourcing to office management, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to keep the ‘game developer ship’ afloat.

If you’re already involved in the mobile gaming industry or think you’ve got the skills to make the next big game, check out our current vacancies to apply now.

Pentasia works with many of the most successful iGaming and Games producers worldwide, offering unparalleled access to transformative career opportunities. Register with Us to receive job alerts and features, or check out our current vacancies if you’re keen to apply now.