Q&A with Jussi Viljanen Product Manager at Bojoko – European Gaming Industry News

Q&A with Jussi Viljanen Product Manager at Bojoko

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Give us a quick overview of your entrance into the games industry and what made you decide to join it?

Before entering the gaming space, Gismart had earned a name as a top music entertainment app developer for an array of popular gamified music products such as Beat Maker Go, Piano Crush and many others. Looking for ways to grow and diversify our company portfolio, in 2019, we decided to add another business vertical and established an internal studio called Flime by Gismart. We dived deep into the development and publishing of mobile lightweight games, focusing on trendy hyper-casual genres and instant games for social platforms. The hyper-casual market was on the rise, not that saturated yet, so we saw it as a good opportunity to utilize our expertise in hypothesis testing which is crucial for this genre. Besides, we appreciated the simplicity of its mechanics and relevantly quick production so we had more room for trial and error. Within two years, we released a couple of dozen games for mobile and social platforms with many of them reaching the top gaming charts (ex. Cool Goal!, Body Race, Foil Turning 3D, etc.) and generating over 450 million downloads overall. Working in the hyper-casual market,  the team built effective processes in a very short time, as well as tested a large number of hypotheses. In 2021 we made our next step moving towards the casual genre and decided to explore puzzle games. It is a busy and challenging market with some strong competition. However, we have had success with our first game Cross Logic and are now actively working on new titles. We consider puzzle games to be a better investment in the long run. We also recently established a new business related to blockchain gaming projects and NFTs.

What does your role as VP of Business Development and Marketing at Gismart entail?

I focus on sourcing, negotiating and executing strategic partnerships across Gismart business verticals mainly related to product branding and marketing. I also build and develop long term and quality relationships and lead communications at Gismart. My role includes mobile product marketing and monetization, app distribution partner management (Apple App Store, Google Play, Facebook Instant Games, Snap Gaming, TikTok Gaming), product branding, PR and HR branding. Some of my proudest milestones include nurturing flagship partnerships between Gismart and household name entertainment brands such as UMPG, Sony/ATV and Warner Chappell, as well as the collaboration between The Chainsmokers and Gismart’s hit Beat Maker Go music app.

Women remain largely underrepresented in the global games industry. How does Gismart approach this, and what advice would you give to women who want to work in the industry?

It is an issue especially if we talk about senior ranks of companies. I am glad that this subject is constantly raised in the media as it helps the change to happen faster. I believe there are two things to fight – stereotypes and company practices. However,  speaking of the Gismart gender ratio it is very balanced. The ratio between males and females is 1:1.

Gismart is perhaps best known as a publisher of mobile games. What’s the recipe for a hit mobile game in 2022? 

I can’t give a recipe but I can say how we approach building high-potential products at Gismart. We have an expert R&D team to explore global trends and conduct in-depth marketing research. Understanding the niche to find a gap for something fresh and exciting for users is an important task.  After making sure that the game concept is relevant, we move on to creating a basic game prototype and perform a market test to understand the metrics. There are three key factors that most likely indicate that a game has a high potential – low CPI, high LTV and product scalability. The data-driven approach is what we stand by. Gismart has several analytical tools for in-depth market research, quick idea tests, and advanced product analytics that help us make a final decision.

How did Apple’s changes to marketing on iOS in 2021 affect Gismart?

Similarly to the rest of the market, we have been affected by the changes related to IDFA. This has significantly affected the traffic buying on iOS, and it has certainly become more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. It also made it harder and more expensive to run product tests on Facebook. On the positive side, these changes forced us to delve into other purchasing channels, and change and improve approaches to testing new product ideas. We also definitely go for more technological experiments on the marketing side related to user acquisition through web traffic.

Many of your games are available on social media sites such as Snap and Facebook. Why do social networking apps want gaming content in general?

Social platforms have an undeniably huge audience and games are a new form of communication. We saw an opportunity for growth in this business and some of our team members who are now leading Flime by Gismart had the experience of building one of the first games for Facebook. Today we have over ten social platform games available on Facebook and Snapchat. Color Galaxy on Snap Games became one of the most successful games on the platform quickly after its launch and after two years still holding its position.

In general, social platforms see games as one of the instruments to entertain and retain the audience, increasing the time they spend on the platform. Besides retention, having quality games provides the platform with other benefits, such as improved user experience, new forms of communication and interaction between users, and, of course, additional monetization for social platforms.

Gismart also makes and publishes wider entertainment apps such as music and wellness. Why did the company decide to diversify its focus from mobile games?

We started with entertainment music apps. Alex, one of the company founders’ is a self-taught guitar player and the first Gismart app was a guitar app.  After the successful launch of the first product, our portfolio of music entertainment apps has grown to over 15 different apps over time. Then came our expansion to games. Wellness, as well as the pet care vertical with flagship product Woofz, was established about a year ago. Both businesses are relatively new but already established their name on the market and have a substantial number of users. All of the verticals operate as independent businesses and Gismart provides them with consulting and mentorship, all kinds of resources and tools and infrastructure. So in a way, today Gismart operates as some sort of business incubator with some of the verticals having already outgrown the startup stage.

Last question – what can we expect to see from Gismart and from yourself during the remainder of 2022?

Gismart has very exciting and challenging plans across all verticals. Speaking of casual games, we’ll continue expanding our portfolio of HTML5 games on Facebook Instant and Snap Games. We also plan to introduce our mini-games on new major social platforms. Also, we plan to soft-launch our new blockchain project.

Speaking of apps, we will continue to upgrade and develop our products in music entertainment. We are working on expanding our music partners’ circle to bring more unique, fresh music to the table. As for wellness and pet care verticals – the focus is on product and working on features to enrich the user experience and facilitate product growth. We hope to see a few new products earning their spot on the top chart.

Author: Tracey Gomez