David Cremades Beltran is the CMO at From The Bench S.L., one of the biggest sports game development companies in the world with the largest official licenses like the NBA or the NFL and many football clubs such as Real Madrid, Liverpool and many more. David sat down for an interview and spoke about his experience working in mobile games and a few things he has learned along the way.
Where are you from, where do you live now, and do you like it?
I live in Elda, Alicante, and I definitely enjoy it. The city is calm, friends, family, and the beach are all close, and I can walk to work in under 12 minutes. I get to travel a lot for work and I frequently get to experience Barcelona, London, and other international cities. We used to worry that our company would need to relocate to a bigger city like Madrid for example, in order to reach our full potential. But we’ve found that in the globalizing world, it really has been possible to do everything we need from Elda, with lots of frequent flier miles and taking advantage of the international airport just 20 minutes away. Alicante has a lot of startups, the cost of living is low and it is giving birth to a lot of innovation.
How did you get into the mobile gaming industry?
I started out as a computer scientist and worked 4 or 5 years in other companies until I created my own e-commerce company with 3 computer scientist friends in 2006. We were doing everything ourselves and I quickly found myself doing things I had never done before like designing the website, SEO strategy, and shifting more and more towards the realm of marketing. In 2007 we sold the company but kept the rights to a game we developed that had become quite successful.
Nuestraliga.com was licensed to the TV news channel LaSexta, who was using it to connect with its soccer fan-base through a fantasy soccer management game. The game had 100 thousand monthly desktop users and was essentially the seed that flourished into the company that is now From the Bench Games. Shortly after they were looking for a mobile version and we gathered a few more people to our team to be able to provide mobile experiences.
What was it like making the transition from computer science to focusing on User acquisition and marketing?
In the beginning, because we were working with big clubs, our marketing department mostly built relationships with the clubs and supplied them with images of the games, offers and promotions. The clubs would then promote them in their different established marketing channels to their already established fan-base.
When we launched the NBA General Manager game however, they were not able to offer us the same support, and we finally really had to get into user acquisition strategies on our own. This was several years ago, but we began running Facebook ads before anyone was really doing it. I remember some of our investors suggested we invest in training or get some sort of course, and there legitimately was nothing available at that time. We had to just figure it out as we went, tinkering. We now manage our own content, performance, ASO, SEO, acquisition, and design.
What is one thing you have learned with experience that helps you face your everyday marketing challenges?
With time you learn to distinguish real opportunities from the empty buzz around the next trend. For instance, the industry moves fast and someone new might come to you with a million suggestions for things to do, and you have to be able to quickly spot which ideas are worth time and energy to develop, and which ones are simply not worth investment. Cool ideas are not always effective.
Are you a jack of all trades or are you a specialist in a specific area of marketing?
Jack of all trades. One day I manage User acquisition and the next day ASO. I really enjoy UA, although it’s difficult right now with the price of ads, but we also get to play and do a lot of testing on the other side of things, through monetization, changing providers, placements, integrations, engagement, etc.
How do the official franchise connections and licenses affect your marketing strategies?
We get to tap into established fan bases and connect with a lot of people dedicated to teams and brands, who find us in the app store because of our game’s names, and download the app simply because they are big fans. This, of course, is a double-edged sword. It means sometimes the users who download the app might not actually be that interested in the game and are downloading it more to connect with the branding of their favorite teams, especially because we are a freemium app.
But in general, more downloads and the powerful connection our users have to the brands is incredible. For instance, our comments section in the app store is full of people unbelievably passionate, because it taps into the already established connections they have with their sports teams, you just don’t see that often with other games.
What are the tools you personally can’t live without? What are the apps that you use enjoy/ use all the time?
I use Tableau to track all the movements in the app and keep up to date with the industry. And Headspace, the meditation app, allows me to stop for a moment. I like their sessions and I think it’s generally well made.
How long is the shelf life of your games? Where do you see yourself and your games in a few years?
Our games are actually quite old. Football evolves, things change but… there will always be interest and excitement for football.
How do you promote engagement among your already acquired players/users?
For retargeting, we tried with a few top providers in the industry but it didn’t work for us. We are now doing something internally, trying to reach users who have for instance paid, but haven’t played in 4 days, and interacting with push notifications, sending an email, or promotions, for example, for returning players we have even offered a t-shirt. Mixing online and offline.
If you could ask your competitors one thing, and they had to answer honestly, what would you want to know about their strategies, tools, benchmarks… etc?
I don’t believe in competition in this way. In fact, when I get the opportunity to speak to other gaming companies it usually results in a few beers and both sides sharing our insight openly, without hypothetical truth serum. I am happy our industry is much more collaborative than competitive. The industry is still so young and the people working in it are also young, energetic, and excited to share. It makes it an exciting and enjoyable place to be.
Read David Cremades’ in-depth article on how he has built a successful influencer marketing channel for mobile game user acquisition.