Last week social games developer KamaGames and mobile messaging specialist Tango announced plans to extend their partnership with a third title, 3D Blackjack for Tango. iGaming Business talks to Kevin Egan, KamaGames’ business development manager, about the evolving partnership and how their offering fits into the social gaming industry.
iGaming Business: You’ve been in a successful partnership with Tango for two years already, what is the reasoning behind the expanded partnership?
Kevin Egan: We started with Pokerist for Tango two years ago. Earlier this year we signed an extension to our partnership bringing Roulettist for Tango to the market. The partnership has continued to evolve over time and now we are adding 3D Blackjack for Tango to the portfolio too.
Looking at our own social casino games, we know that each of them add value to each other. Providing Tango with the same product mix will do the same and therefore increase revenue/retention/conversion across the range of products.
Each game is a standalone app but they share the same wallet — you can transfer your chips between games. 3D Blackjack has performed well above expectations since we launched earlier this year and the KPIs are a credit to the development team who built it.
It doesn’t really come as a great surprise because six to seven years ago the same team of people built Pokerist. It is one of the unique things about KamaGames, the core development team hasn’t really changed over this period, which is pretty rare in this industry.
iGB: How will it benefit you in terms of reach, engagement, etc?
KE: In the last six months Apple has launched an iMessage AppStore and Facebook Messenger launched Instant Games and so there’s a lot happening in the social game/messenger ecosystem, mainly because of the game discovery and engagement opportunities a messenger offers.
Facebook/IMessage game play integration is very different than that of Tango as you play within the message itself. I don’t think this means all messengers will be big successful game publishers but Tango has an early mover advantage in that it has been doing this for a few years already.
If we take a closer look at the engagement piece on a messenger, I think most people have a lot more connections on a social media platform like Facebook/Twitter than they do on a messenger, however messengers offer much better engagement/influence because the relationships are a lot stronger. I have Facebook friends I haven’t seen or spoken to in 10 years, obviously that is not the case with connections I have on messengers.
All this is positive but at the end of the day you need a high quality game to bring users through the funnel. Our partnership works because Tango has quality users and we have great games.
iGB: What are the mechanics of game play and monetisation from the Tango platform?
KE: All three games monetise in the same way as in-app purchases and are no different in that respect to Clash of Clans, Candy Crush or Pokemon Go. You can play all of these games for free without ever spending money. In-app purchases simply allow you to accelerate progress, which some users are happy to do because they get value from the user experience.
The game play mechanics of all three games follow that of what you would expect from a social poker, roulette or blackjack game. If we look at our direct competition in each of these sub-sectors of the social casino genre, others have larger user bases, but per user we retain users for longer and generate more revenue — it’s how we compete with the best in the world. This is not down to any one thing but rather a combination of lots of different things such as gameplay mechanics, re-engagement, CRM, etc.
All three games are embedded within the Tango app. I think people are used to signing into apps via their Facebook account and so we allow Tango users to sign in, play and connect with friends using their Tango sign-in.
I think any potential partner can look at KamaGames and know that a partnership with us means that they get more revenue per user than they will with anyone else. From a B2B point of view, that’s a great place to be.
iGB: How much can the real money gambling sector learn from the social gaming industry?
KE: A lot in the RMG industry were late to the party when it came to social, apart from a few such as Caesars, which just made an incredible exit from Playtika. I can understand why they were hesitant as at the time it wasn’t difficult to make an argument that social casino could cannibalise existing revenues.
In hindsight, we can see that irrespective of what RMG operators were doing, cannibalisation was taking place anyway. I think it’s more a question of what they can earn rather than what they can learn. If we look at the USA, social slots make an incredible amount of revenue. It’s a competitive market but great content gives you a huge advantage. Real money operators have some of the best content in the world so I would expect to see more content licensing deals in 2017.
iGB: What is the outlook for Kama in 2017?
KE: In terms of overall growth, 2016 has been a very good year for us and so 2017 is all about building on this through new games, new updates and new partnerships. I am excited about what we have in both our development and commercial pipeline.