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Publisher Spotlight: Skillz

Posted Oct 26, 2018

It should come as no surprise that esports are a big thing. It’s also a huge growing component of mobile gaming as well! At the forefront of that growth is Skillz, the leader in mobile esports that connects the world’s 2.6 billion mobile gamers through competition. Skillz changes the way competition happens on mobile devices around the world.

We spoke to Stephen Yu, Skillz’s Director of Revenue & Marketing at our recent Supernova Summit about how the company came to be, their philosophy, and how it aims to grow and help mobile developers grow with them.

In it to Win it

“Our co-founders, Andrew Paradise and Casey Chafkin, saw a need that wasn’t being met in the industry,” Yu explained, “They wanted to enable competitions in every video game, just like how every offline sport has competitions.”

This drive to bring competition to video games has taken off in the PC and console arena recently, after years of gaining mindshare within gaming. With major “Fortnite” tournaments sponsored by Epic, as well as Overwatch League doing its best to bring major sports styles to video games, things are looking up for esports in general, but mobile is a special case.

“Andrew and Casey are also big mobile gaming fans,” Yu continued, “They realized that there had to be a better way for game developers to make money beyond just ads and in-app purchases.”

Esports have become part of the overall engagement strategy for many big traditional developers, but mobile developers hadn’t really taken advantage of that opportunity until Skillz came along.

“Not only do our developer partners receive a free, out-of-the-box esports solution,” Yu explained,“but our technology is also proven to consistently deliver improved engagement, retention and revenue metrics to game studios.”

The Skillz platform excels at monetizing engaged users for developer’s games. “The ideal scenario is to maximize the lifetime value of users through deep retention combined with regular and responsible monetization,” Yu explained. “Given that we’re still working toward that ideal state, we diversify our marketing and product roadmaps with short-term, mid-term, and long-term strategies to balance the need for immediate monetization with initiatives that will push us closer to that ideal state,” he said.

Skillz Solitaire CubeCreating Competition
“Berenberg projects that the esports market will be worth as much as $40 billion by 2025,” Yu explained. According to Newzoo, the global games market is worth $137 billion, with mobile accounting for over half of total generated revenue across the ecosystem (outpacing both PC and console gaming combined).

“With only 700 million computers in circulation compared to 4 billion smartphones (and growing), mobile is the future of gaming and esports,” Yu stated.

So what exactly is Skillz and how does it factor into that growth? In the company’s own words, it’s a competitive multiplayer platform that improves mobile game engagement through mechanisms including in-app rewards, content updates, achievement systems, and push notifications.

But that’s not all. The company is constantly looking to bring more for developers to leverage to keep users engaged. “One example of a special feature we’ve integrated into some titles is our proprietary chat technology,” explained Yu, “It helps connect our millions of gamers across the thousands of titles we power on both iOS and Android.”

If this sounds familiar to AdColony readers, it’s because we’ve been talking about engagement and retention best practices for a long, long time. Skillz is making it easy for developers to engage and retain their users with advanced tools that major publishers spend millions of dollars.

More than a Platform
As of writing, Skillz currently has more than 18 million players. That’s successful by any standard, but the company has embraced its ability to deliver results to developers that have integrated Skillz into their app and really hit a stride.

“In September we announced our most updated metrics, including Skillz reaching a $400 million revenue run-rate – doubling the $200 million figure announced just five months prior,” Yu explained. “The Skillz platform now powers esports competitions for 13,000 game studios, nearly double the 8,000 studios announced in April 2018,” he added enthusiastically.

One key part of Skillz’s popularity with developers is its popularity with players — and that popularity comes from making good on the promise of competition and rewards for engaging. Skillz has awarded over $300 million in prizes and has hosted over 800 million tournaments, said Yu. “The past five months, in particular, have marked record growth for us,” he added, “We awarded over $100 million in prizes across nearly half a billion competitions!”

Team Effort
How does a platform like Skillz grow this fast? A talented UA and growth team. The Skillz UA team is comprised of just eight people. “They are a highly analytical, intellectually curious bunch,” Yu explained. “It’s an eclectic group of warriors with a get-it-done attitude.”

“As a UA team, we’re excited about fine-tuning the acquisition engine that we’ve built and continuing to find innovative ways to distribute our content to the world!” Yu smiled.

Working within so many games and apps make the Skillz brand identity different from that of a traditional publisher or developer. “We’re partnered with over 13,000 game developers, so we power games with all sorts of different artistic styles, genres, and demographics,” Yu explained.

This had led to Skillz having a clean, cool, and easy to recognize brand that developers recognize immediately.

What’s Next for Skillz
“As a company, we’re excited about continuing to conquer the mobile gaming market and adding more titles to the platform as we grow the player base,” Yu said regarding the company’s plans for 2019. “We have some exciting features that we’re going to announce soon, but for now we will be continuing to constantly strengthen, scale and improve our platform.”

“Building a diverse team of Skillzians with various backgrounds, opinions and perspectives help ensure everything we do,” Yu said when discussing growing Skillz as a company to support the business success, “From building new technology to deploying marketing campaigns – will be inclusive and applicable to diverse audiences.”

Sound interesting? Check out their careers page!

Up your Skillz … By contacting Skillz
The best way to stay in touch with all things Skillz is just by checking out their blog, which contains tons of great news about the company, best practices, and more. The team at Skillz also regularly updates their Twitter, @Skillz, Facebook, and LinkedIn. They’ve even got a cool Instagram showcasing their great company culture and news!

Skillz Team

About Publisher Spotlight
The AdColony Publisher Spotlight series showcases the finest publishers in mobile gaming. To nominate a publisher to be featured, tweet to @AdColony. To feature your studio, fill out the Publisher Spotlight Questionnaire.

Join the Conversation
Did you learn something about Skillz’s approach to engagement and retention? Tweet us at @AdColony. For the latest AdColony mobile news and updates, follow @AdColony on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect on Linkedin.

Jonathan

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