Making mobile gaming esports accessible – Interview with Jeffrey Donnelley

By Zachary Fingerle

 

Who are you and what is MegaFans?

I’m the CEO and founder of MegaFans which is a mobile eSports gaming platform. I have been producing marketing strategies for gaming companies for over 20 years. What I mean by marketing for gaming companies is developing, executing, and optimizing their user acquisition campaigns and their down funnel conversion channels for player monetization and retention programs to increase the lifetime value for their users.

There are 2.5 billion daily active users (DAUs) playing casual mobile games.  Popular titles can range anywhere from Candy Crush (puzzles) to Fortnite, making first-person shooters vastly more popular on mobile in 2018. Despite these games, the mobile gaming scene is still very nascent. The point is that I am looking for the easiest way to reach the most people. When you take a step back and look at the casual side of mobile games, the games are very simplistic, and they hold larger player bases. Our biggest competitor is Skillz with a market cap of around $9 billion. Their top 3 games are solitaire, blackjack, and bingo.  Their market cap may be a bit inflated, but the market is still MASSIVE.

I started paying attention to the eSports sector around 2013 and in 2015 I realized this was going to be the next wave of gaming. Then in 2016 I started taking a serious look and took a deep dive into opportunities in the space. Competitive mobile gaming was practically nonexistent in 2016 so there was a large gap to be filled. I created the concept, took a year to conduct market research and in 2017 I started looking for my entry point into the market. In 2018 I had a prototype developed (MegaFans) to integrate into a mobile game and offer the option for players to enter into an esports competition.

I was extremely fortunate in 2019 when a competitor’s business went under and their tech team approached me because they recognized what I was doing and so I brought almost their entire team over to MegaFans and they are killers. They took my prototype to market in 2019 and collectively we started testing hypotheses, questions, and assumptions, creating a competitive SWOT (aka Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, driven by hard data. We spent an entire year from May 2019 – March 2020 testing and taking in market feedback with new games from various international markets around the world.  We questioned everything to get as much data-feedback as possible from the market and created a tech stack that addresses the mobile gaming market’s needs and desires.

Unfortunately, when the Covid 19 pandemic struck, as with many other companies and people, the lockdown stalled our company’s growth, as we had various parts of our team in separate countries across the world. But this also gave us the opportunity to take a step back and finish polishing some of the key components of our tech stack.

Now, a year after our soft beta launch, we are about 90% done with the software stack and have a polished product that is ready for an official launch. We have three eSports games live in-market and are ready to scale and expand our global footprint to millions of users.  We tested our new product during Super Bowl week and are running a validation campaign during March Madness.  The numbers are looking good.

We’re currently driving over 3000 monthly clicks to our affiliates. Because of the proprietary direct advertising feed, we developed, we get around $3 per click compared to the $.06 if we went through a mediation company. Meanwhile, our global customer acquisition cost is only about $0.34.  So, you can see that the math works well for this business model. 

 

Is there a specific game that wears the crown for the future for MegaFans?

We have multiple games published. 16 titles across IOS and Android, but only 3 are esports ready. Our lead game is Candy Boo Tournament Edition. That is going to be the lead game until we find something better. We are currently looking for game developers to partner with us and create new and unique experiences. Currently, Candy Boo will be our lead game, but we are excited to see the future of our other games,

Is there a specific country that MegaFans is most popular in

India has been really strong for us. We tested Candy Boo about a year ago, and we accidentally became a top 100 game with virtually no support for it at the time (marketing and advertising). We had not intended to blow up this big, it just spread through word of mouth and exploded. The United States and the UK are the next leading countries where our users are playing and interacting.

 

Do you have a focus on bringing over any of the console/pc players or exclusively on drawing mobile gamers to your platform?

We do not have any plans for any console games in our ecosystem. But we are planning on porting our games to PC by making them accessible through browsers. We use Unity, and that allows us to cross publish into browsers that are PC friendly. It is possible, and we have already tested it. There is potential that our browser games and eco-system will be done and ready in 12-18 months.

 

Is there a specific demographic that is the largest pool of active competitors?

Our demographics are people aged 18-54 and skews slightly female, which is unusual for eSports. I believe the statistic is that 55-60% of mobile gamers are female. I do not know if it continues to skew towards a female player base, but we WANT IT TO. We also want to be a platform that develops a community that is all-inclusive and does not have prejudice. We want to be a welcome and safe place for females, LGBTQ, where anybody, anywhere can compete.

 

Will you have separate marketing programs to reach various generations that have curiosity in the esports scenes?

Target segmentation is critical, not every game will be as popular in every market. We plan to have 6 teams across the world that can cater our games and services specific to that region or market. The teams will have control over graphics style, language (involving slang that is specific to that region), the need or wants of consumers, tech evolutions, and changes.

Do you have a method to combat the “mobile games aren’t real gaming” crowd?

Our user base is going to have its own community. We already have a third-party community-building system built into our platform and remember that we have 2.5 billion DAUs which is huge.

Hardcore gamers do not hang out on Facebook and my gamers do! There will be natural segmentation, but we are going to be Loud and Proud. “You may be good at COD or LoL but we don’t care, we are going to have bigger prize pools.” We are going to be built on the casino method, we want to get everybody to play the nickel slot machines. And then draw them further into the games and with bigger prize pools. You can take our casual puzzle game and segment it just by offering them what they want, bigger prize pools, and various other aspects. Our software is already built for that, you can take a single game from us and offer an infinite number of tournaments with infinite numbers of prize pools that are easy to access.

There are big prize pools for mobile esports but those are more related to “serious gamers” (COD, PUBG, MOBA), How do you see the future of MegaFans vs these competitions?

 

That’s a really good question. Fortnite had a $33 million prize pool for mobile. We will not only be doing cash prizes. People win virtual coins in the games and take them to the digital “cage” to cash out. When you take our tokens to our third-party cage, we can exchange them for anything like gift cards, Paypal direct, cryptocurrency. This allows us to customize our payout to each user market. We can test which options are most appealing to our users, we can offer them almost anything they can want. Of course, the bigger the prize pool, the bigger the media attention. I am ok with my users winning multiple $100 payouts throughout a month compared to one BIG prize pool that only happens maybe once per year. We built MegaFans to meet the market’s needs.

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