About This Episode
Bharat Bhatia is the VP of Marketing at Junglee Games – a leading skill games company in India. During his previous stints, he worked as the Deputy General Manager of Marketing at Paytm and the Manager of Global CRM at Foodpanda. He is an alumnus of Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad.
In this episode…
We speak to Bharat about his experience as a marketing professional and discuss the nitty-gritties of user engagement and retention, which include:
i. The state of real money games in India.
ii. The importance of user experience in online gaming.
iii. Why marketers should focus on user retention from day one?
iv. The recipe for seamless user experience.
Here are our top 3 picks from the episode:
1. Busting the myths about real money gaming in India
Avlesh: One of these questions that I had in mind, you know, you talk about the US a lot, that’s probably the place to be as far as, you know, building a game is concerned and distributing a game is concerned and then what comes to my mind is China, Korea, economies like those. How is India different from these ecosystems?
Bharat: I used to believe in the philosophy that we don’t have a gaming culture and people don’t have money. I think the scenario has changed a lot in the last few years. So I used to market Teenpatti which had in fact one of the highest ARPU in India at that point in time but what people have now realized that we Indians have won a lot of time but what we also want to do is try and get something out of the system; try to get something when we are investing time in playing a game. I think the gaming culture was always there, it was just purely, people didn’t have 3G or 4G handsets. It used to be like a privilege that only if I have an Xbox then I used to be a gamer. Now you can be a gamer on your phone. So the end thing is, it’s very difficult to sell virtual chips to Indians for real money. That’s something which is extremely difficult. If you show them very clearly that okay you will win 10,20,30, 40, 1 Lakh rupees, then people are willing to invest their time.
2. Creating a frictionless user experience and the role of responsible gaming
Avlesh: In our lifecycle, we come across a lot of different businesses such as Food-tech, Ed-tech, E-commerce, Travel, and Fintech businesses where everyone possesses a different problem statement as far as user engagement and retention is concerned. I would love to hear from you Bharat, how do you look at your retention funnel, since it’s a gaming platform differently from an e-commerce business?
Bharat: On the basis of my experience in food-tech and e-commerce, the acquisition almost remains the same. A user generally sees a banner ad, clicks, and lands on the homepage of the application. For food-tech and e-commerce applications, the landing page is mostly playstore but if you are a real money game, then you are not allowed to list your game on the playstore. Hence, our application has been on the AWS server. That’s the first difference that the user has to download our APK. We also have a free version on the playstore to not lose the organic searches. Generally, e-commerce applications ask the user to register on the platform before he/she could browse the features which is the same process that we apply on our application. In hindsight, it creates a lot of friction because the user does not want to give out information in the first interaction but it is important for us to ensure that the people registering on the platform are real people. We follow the protocols of responsible gaming which makes it necessary for the user to be 18 and above. So these are some challenges that we face as an industry but over the years, people have also accepted the processes while playing real money games which was not possible in the past years.
Avlesh: The playstore challenge is limited to India only or is it happening in the rest of the world too?
Bharat: It’s definitely a big challenge in India but I don’t think I am in a place to comment about the rest of the world.
3. Communicating with the users through right channels at the right time to avoid churn
Avlesh: Getting in the very specifics, Bharat. What do different segments and cohorts in your ecosystem look like? How do you identify the criteria for the cohorts? Is it based on the acquisition channels or communication channels and how do you engage with these users over time?
Bharat: Basically, we advertise on all of the social media channels, multiple affiliate networks and we also deal with the OEMs. We have a different segment for the user who comes through organic channels and referrals. Once the user registers, it becomes my responsibility to handhold it through the procedure of the game. The major challenge for us to make the first game for the user absolutely frictionless because if they are not able to experience what the product is, all my user journeys and cohorts stand for nothing. So the first job is to make them play a game. After that, we take the RFM route which is your Recency, Frequency & Monetization. We analyze their RFM scores which involve sending a push notification or an SMS to the user based on their reachability. I have to ensure that there are certain nudges in the systems which compel the user to spend more time on the platform. We also use some internal metrics to identify the users who are going to churn which help us to figure out the problems the user might be facing and resolve them from time to time.
During this candid with Avlesh, Bharat shared the most compelling challenges faced by real money games in India, the identification factors for growth, improving the conversation with the users over time, why advertising on a gaming portal ruins the overall experience and how customer service is important to make the platform sticky.