Please tell us about your journey into the subscription services industry. How did you start at Multiscription?
I started working with subscription-based gaming back in 2014 when I joined MovieStar Planet, a Danish company that had created a combination of a free-to-play game and social platform specifically for kids – we had about 11 million subscribers from around the world. After this, I worked on subscription models for online marketplaces outside of the games industry; this gave me a good understanding of how subscriptions can be done in a way that delivers a really positive experience.
A couple of years later I was working on other projects and I met Martin Walfisz, who was the founder of Swedish games company Massive Entertainment – which today is part of Ubisoft. When I met Martin he was working with Nordisk Film Games, investing in the games industry. We started talking about subscriptions as the right thing from a user perspective, and also as a better way of helping publishers to monetize their games in a more transparent way.
After lots of discussions and a shared desire to try and do something new and different around monetization of mobile games we founded Multiscription in 2018, with some initial angel investment which has helped us develop the technology to where we are today.
Tell us about your business continuity plans and challenges met during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It’s been challenging, but I think we are in pretty good shape. Our team is spread around Europe and everyone works from home or from local work spaces, so we were already used to video calls and running everything through collaborative platforms like Google Apps and Slack. It sounds a bit crazy, but I’ve still never met the whole team in person!
So our business was already built in a way that minimized disruption. What has been challenging is the loss of physical events and conferences, which are actually a really important source of business meetings and networking.
There has been a shift to virtual events which do offer the chance for virtual business meetings, but with those you can’t have the casual chats and surprise meetings that are so often the best things that happen.
The result has been that we’ve found it a bit harder to sign up developers and publishers to the platform at the speed we wanted to. We have set ourselves the goal of having a critical mass of games available when we launch, so the lack of events has been tricky. However, now that business travel restrictions are lifting, things are getting better.
The loss of the events has also not helped our discussions with investors. Team chemistry and trust are essential if an investor is going to come on board, and that’s not a decision they tend to make on the back of a phone call.
Which tools and platforms are you using for your Marketing, Sales, and Communications?
Right now, we are in the very early stages of launch so we’ve mainly focused on some initial PR work focused on the games industry media to help build our profile. We’ve also had some great results from working with like-minded companies in the mobile industry to create blog posts and content as a way to reach people in the games media that may not be reading the B2B media.
In terms of marketing software, we’ve been growing our own email campaigns using Mailchimp, and we have plans to use a marketing automation platform like Hubspot or SharpSpring when we are in a position to expand our marketing activities and start our consumer push.
How do you see the use of AI / ML and Programmatic gaming ads transforming the revenue business for ad developers and publishers?
That’s an interesting question, as advertising and free to play games have a real chicken-and-egg relationship. My personal view is that there is too much of the wrong kind of advertising – ads which are interruptive and which don’t create a positive user experience.
The way adverts are integrated into a game is just as important as the ad format and creative. So, while advances in programmatic advertising can help advertisers make ads which are more dynamic and cleverly targeted, if that ad takes a player out of their fun experience it’s not going to be a successful ad.
For example, we know that a lot of people really like watching rewarded video ads because players know there is a payoff for their time and attention, and a lot of these ads are well made and interesting. So even if someone decides to subscribe to a game to have an ad-free experience, we have found that they will often opt-in to still see video ads.
While gamers have a pretty high tolerance to advertising, if you ask gamers about in-game ads they will often say there are too many of them, or that the ads are too intrusive. The best way to generate more revenues is to improve user satisfaction and engagement, which increases their lifetime value (LTV). So there is a tricky balance to strike between user experience and monetisation, and I am not sure that AI is ready to solve that.
Tell us about the Data Science driving Unleashd?
There are two main areas where we focus our efforts; finding the right games to add to the service so that we can maximize installs and engagement, and understanding what kinds of offers and promotions a user will be most interested to see.
This is not a question of curation, although we do base our targeting on similar preferences and user behaviours. I’d say it’s more like contextual targeting than your Amazon or Netflix-style recommendations. So there’s quite a lot of data science behind how we are doing that.
We use machine learning to identify what offers are likely to be of most interest to an individual user. Again, this includes a lot of contextual data taken from the millions game sessions where players make choices and express preferences. The machine learning algorithm lets us understand and refine all of those choices, improving our predictive modeling the more users we gain.
Of course, these data models are not only useful for giving subscribers a personalized experience; there is the potential to share insights from the platform with games publishers so they can improve their own retention and engagement beyond the Multiscription platform. That’s something that we’ve not done yet, but which could be really interesting in the future.
How do you see the Marketing and Sales alignment growing apart in the COVID-19 scenario?
To be honest we’ve not seen this as we are still pre-launch, and so our marketing and sales efforts are very narrow and targeted. But we can really see the effect on B2B sales from the loss of so many big global industry events. Perhaps it’s another reminder about how 1:1 communications and relationships is still really crucial.
I can definitely see more focus on the digital side of marketing to compensate for this – especially if we cannot return to a pre-covid world of travelling from event to event.
Tag a person from the industry you want to see answering these questions:
I’m going to tag Joakim Achrén, Founder and CEO at Elite Game Developers. Joakim has worked at some great mobile games companies including Supercell, so he really knows what he’s talking about. But what I really find inspiring about him is his energy and desire to share is knowledge and experience. He’s one of the most interesting people I’ve met while building Multiscription.
Thank you, Teis! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Teis has over 15 years of experience in the digital arena, having founded Multiscription and worked for other companies such as: Ricardo.ch, Trendsales Aps, MovieStarPlanet and IO Interactive, among others. With a strong analytical background, Teis’ expertise focuses on the gaming industry and the subscription economy. He is also passionate about leadership and management, having led teams from 5 to 110 people. Teis also holds a master’s degree in Law and counts with army experience.
Multiscription is a tech start-up founded by games industry veterans Teis Mikkelsen and Martin Walfisz. Its aim is to reshape the mobile games landscape by bridging the gap between paid and free-to-play mobile games. The company’s first offering, Unleashd, is a mobile games subscription service designed to combine the convenience and value of a premium subscription service with the in-game benefits of free-to-play titles.