Stellar Stories – With Marco Demiroz of PlayFirst

Marco DeMiroz, the president and CEO of PlayFirst, has quite a story to tell, and we at Gamesauce were eager to listen. Sit with us for a moment as he chats about his star-born origins, character development, and the importance of a proper pricing model. 

3 – 2 – 1 – Blast Off

Marco DeMiroz began his career as a programmer, but quickly switched his focus to engineering in order to conduct research at NASA, where he had a chance to flex the post-graduate Engineer Degree in Aeronautics/Astronautics he obtained from Stanford University. Over the years, he has held many executive roles in the digital sector, and eventually he cemented his decision to join the wide world of gaming just as the growth and adoption rate of smart phones and tablets shot off like a rocket to the stars. “What I learned in the past could be a good guide to interpret and process new challenges. However, I place higher value on intuition than experience,” says DeMiroz.

“Diner Dash was truly an innovative game that defined the time management category by being highly engaging and fun, it had a unique game mechanic and level progression that continue to challenge and entertain players.”

And this intuitive brand of leadership has most certainly paid off, as PlayFirst was able to spot the potential of Diner Dash – a character-driven strategy/time management game, and one of the top-selling downloadable titles of all time – from a mile away. “Diner Dash was truly an innovative game that defined the time management category by being highly engaging and fun, it had a unique game mechanic and level progression that continue to challenge and entertain players. In addition, the fans really enjoy learning about Flo and her story,” DeMiroz mused. And this focus on story continues, as PlayFirst relies on their own cast of characters and the lore that surrounds them to provide unique game play experiences to entertain, surprise, and challenge their audience while increasing the addictive nature of play.

Monetization and the Final Frontier

PlayFirst is preparing for the launch of their new title, Hotel Transylvania Dash which is the direct result of a partnership with Sony Pictures and their upcoming animated comedy Hotel Transylvania.

Finding the proper method of monetization for your game isn’t rocket science, but some developers do struggle with it. When pressed for advice on choosing the proper model, DeMiroz had this to say: “The global trend is for a wide adoption of freemium games with in-app-purchasing, and there are significant differences in monetization between iOS and Android platforms – paid games have very little success on Android where a great majority of monetization comes from the freemium model. iOS, on the other hand, tends to be more balanced between paid and free games.” Going towards the future, all titles from PlayFirst will be freemium, and designed with an economic model that fits the natural flow of the game. With PlayFirst, the monetization framework is conceived from the very beginning as an integral part of the design process. That said, their primary focus is to ensure that the game is a fun and addicting experience. “Freemium is the dominant global trend as it gives the user the best and most flexible choice to try a vast number of new games, but we must remember that in order for those trends to remain, we have to deliver engaging gameplay and design. If a game delivers on those fronts, with the monetization and user experience managed 24/7, and all in-app-purchasing designed to be a natural part of the game experience, the opportunities to monetize will be abundant,” DeMiroz says.

Future Horizons

Mobile gaming provides vast open space for new competition and innovation. Unlike the console or PC/Mac gaming industries, where a small number of companies dominate, the mobile industry is in its infancy and offers new horizons for dedicated developers. “Today, mobile customers use their smart phones and tablets for much more than just making calls, texting, or reading books. A great majority of the usage is for entertainment, and mobile games are a huge part of that,” DeMiroz explains. Regarding the future, PlayFirst is preparing for the launch of their new title, Hotel Transylvania Dash, which is the direct result of a partnership with Sony Pictures and their upcoming animated comedy Hotel Transylvania. Through it, DeMiroz hopes to demonstrate the unique appeal of PlayFirst mobile games when combined with top content and a major media company.

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