If you love playing casino or card games on your mobile device, there’s a good chance you’ve played Solitaire TriPeaks, GSN Casino, or Bingo Bash. These apps and more are made by one of the world’s top mobile game publishers and creators, GSN Games. With the top-grossing solitaire game on all three major app stores, GSN Games is busy fueling every player’s inner winner. That’s why we’re glad they took the time to chat with us for our latest Publisher Spotlight.
We spoke to Ryan Pierce, Director of Marketing, and Patrick “Caso” Santiago, Head Designer, about GSN Games’ hit mobile app Solitaire TriPeaks and the importance of having fun at work, finding inspiration, and the role mobile gaming plays in people’s lives.
A focus on fun
Solitaire TriPeaks’ 60-70-person team challenges each other daily to reach new heights in the mobile gaming world. “It’s important for our culture that we all want success for each other,” says Pierce. “That comes through in how we push our products and projects.” It’s not all business at GSN; it’s a whole lot of fun and games! The team’s mantra is, “We have fun making fun.”
“We have a lot of fun together, and we want to translate that into our games and to our players. We can laugh together and challenge each other as well,” says Pierce.
Pre-COVID times, the TriPeaks team regularly got together for fun outings like go-kart racing, game nights, and trips to Dave and Buster’s for their legendary video arcades. Connecting and working as a team outside of the office makes it easier to go into work the next day and collaborate. The team hasn’t let COVID restrictions stop them from having fun together. They continue to connect and play virtual board games, trivia, and online games.
Staying connected during COVID-19
For GSN, the transition to working from home during COVID-19 has been pretty seamless. Before the publisher transitioned 100% to work-from-home, about 10-15% of the team, including people with critical roles, already worked from home. The ability to work as a team, whether that’s in the office or at home, has been something GSN has looked at as part of a strategic approach to growth.
To combat work-from-home fatigue and stress related to the pandemic, the TriPeaks team has been doing “Decompress Wednesdays” every few weeks, where they take time to disconnect and focus on their mental wellbeing. “Mental health is critical for people on our team. We know we’ll enjoy our work and be more productive if we take that time,” Pierce added, “It’s something we’ll continue doing after this is all over. If you need some time off to recharge mentally, that’s okay.”
Inspiration can come from anywhere
“It’s probably a cliché answer to this question, but inspiration comes from absolutely everywhere, including films, games, and Instagram. I am constantly inspired by personal friends such as Goro Fujita, Dave Wilkins, and Pui Leung,” says Santiago. He actively seeks inspiration through websites such as Dribble, Behance, and Medium. Santiago also follows social media groups such as Daily Spitpaint and Level Up and subscribes to many art, motion graphics, and product design channels on YouTube.
“As the lines between digital art, interaction design, and user experience further blur, I find that almost all of my inspiration comes from contemporary artists and designers. It is folks working today that shift the zeitgeist and set trends.”
Santiago says that if he ever feels the need to be humbled, shocked, and inspired all at once, he simply watches someone like Kim JungGi do an ink drawing. Watching prodigy-level masters do their craft reminds him that there are miles more to go. “Most of us will never get there, but becoming a better artist feeds an addiction in and of itself.”
From a marketing standpoint, Pierce challenges himself and his team to look beyond the mobile gaming world for inspiration. “Looking at other games and competitors is good practice, but some of our greatest ideas have come from inspiration outside of the gaming perspective. Go out and experience something for inspiration. For example, if you have a carnival-themed game, go experience an actual carnival.”
One of TriPeaks’ recent successful ads started around the 2019 holiday season and is still running today because of how it connected with consumers. The team looked to Peloton’s viral holiday ad for inspiration. The ad shows ‘George’ getting ‘Jane,’ a new exercise bike. Jane asks if it’s safe to use, and when George tries it out, it electrocutes him. Meanwhile, she’s still sitting on the couch playing TriPeaks and casually says, “He’ll be okay; I need to finish this game.”
Keeping players engaged
At the end of the day, engagement comes down to the experience you’re giving your players and how you build on that. “Not all players are the same. We want to build new games and offer a fun and engaging experience for different kinds of players,” says Pierce.
One of the things that Pierce loves most about the mobile gaming community is the social aspect. TriPeaks players will join clubs within the app and collaborate with each other. They also join Facebook groups for fans, share more about themselves, and develop real friendships. A recent example Pierce pointed to a player who posted in a fan group about losing her dog and ended up receiving coins within the GSN game from other members of the group.
“If the players are getting enjoyment from the experience that we’ve given them when they’re not playing, then we’re really doing our job.”
Another example is actually Pierce’s own mother. “My mom loves playing hidden object games, and I recently looked at one that was not that popular that she plays, but it was because she can connect with more people on Facebook with that game. She had those outside-of-game experiences and connections. It’s interesting to see someone use that as a qualifier for which games they play. It’s not always about the design and features.”
Looking toward the future
Looking into the rest of 2020, the GSN team is working hard to make their games enjoyable and fun to people who haven’t yet connected with the games, including new content, challenges, and ways to compete with friends or clubs. “There’s a lot of really creative ideas on the table that we’re hoping to roll out in the coming months that have the players in mind to make sure they’re finding joy in the ever-evolving games.”
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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.
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