Gamesforum Meets - Jure Graheek, SVP of Strategic initiatives, ZBD

Gamesforum Meets - Jure Graheek, SVP of Strategic initiatives, ZBD image
By John Speakman 11 June 2024

Welcome back Jure! For those of you who don’t know can you reintroduce yourself?

Thanks, glad to be part of Gamesforum again! I run what we call Strategic Initiatives at ZBD, which is our way of saying I develop new market verticals and strategic partnerships. Right now, I’m primarily focused on working with AdTech companies to get them to create Bitcoin-rewarded ads. Because ads would suck less if they also paid you an instant revenue share in Bitcoin. Outside of my current role, I’ve spent most of my career in FinTech, then a little bit in gaming and have been at the intersection of both (meaning at ZBD) for the past 3 years.

What are your go to mobile games?

I’ve been playing Boe Wings by Roamer a bit too much lately. This is a brand new game that just came out and is integrated with ZBD to give out Bitcoin rewards based on playtime. I just wanted to test it but ended up really enjoying it. Helps me turn my brain off basically, or keeps me from getting too bored while I’m traveling.

Great to have you joining us at Gamesforum Hamburg! What are you most excited for about the event?

I always really enjoy Gamesforums, it’s the perfect crowd for me business-wise, but also just great people. So definitely looking forward to hanging out at the various afterparties. And also excited to do a solo talk, it’s been a while since I did one of those!

It has been a difficult time for IAA, with every $ harder to come by. In your work with your publishing partners, what do they say their biggest monetization challenge is in 2024?

I guess it’s the same for everyone. UA is getting harder and eCPMs from IAA are getting lower. The whole market for mobile games is just oversaturated right now. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more games and new studios, it just means it’s more important than ever to innovate and stand out.

I wanted to take a look at rewarded play, how is this helping companies drive better revenue?

Rewarded play, the way we do it at ZBD, is basically just a way to implement a revenue share with players in a way that feels native to the game. So you’re giving them a bit of money back in a fun and simple way that feels a part of the game itself. And that directly improves retention, session length and the amount of ads users are willing to put up with. Because of this improved retention and engagement, you can monetize users more. Basically rewards = users play more and see more ads.

Can you share a bit more about how player rewards are improving revenue with your current partners?

I can share some specific numbers from our case studies.

When it comes to ARPDAU, we see a very wide range of results - from +20% to +350%.

Ludo Zenith from Square Enix (launched only on Indian market) saw +85% in ARPDAU, Braindoku by Murka Games saw +100%, to name some studios people will know by name. Keep in mind that Bitcoin rewards also require you to spend some money, so the profitability increase is about 20-30% lower than the monetization improvement. But still very significant.

On the retention side, the best result we’ve seen so far has been from Bitcoin Miner by Fumb Games. It was a game that was basically dead until they added ZBD rewards. Then, D30 retention improved a bit over 12x (so over 1200%) and it’s now their most profitable title.

And we just got stats in from a brand new game - Dream Machine from Sifor Games. This is a new studio and a tiny title, but I wanted to highlight it because of an interesting stat they shared with us: average ads watched per day went from 2/user to 9.6/user.

And a two part questions regarding the players:

1. What feedback are you receiving from players concerning the impact of rewarded on their experience?

Players enjoy rewarded play as designed by ZBD and we haven’t really had any negative backlash from people that actually try it, only prejudice from people that are wary of anything crypto-related. It’s really not intrusive and it doesn’t ask you to do anything complex or crypto-ish. Like connect Metamask or something like that. It’s powered by Bitcoin, because that’s how we can send around fractions of a cent easily and very cheaply, but it isn’t a crypto product and players don’t really perceive it as such. It’s just another fun little feature, but it’s not distracting from the gameplay at all. If users don’t care about the rewards, they can just ignore that and play like they would any other game.

2. Concerning the product teams, what impact are player rewards having on retention and reengagement metrics?

Massive ones. I shared some specific stats above, but I might add that the impact depends partly on the game itself - some games and IP fit a lot better than others - and partly on the product team handling the integration into the game. They are the ones deciding how to position the rewarded part of the game, how to explain it to users, when to nudge users towards it. As any feature in a game, you can’t just stick it in and cross your fingers, you need to optimize. We help our partners with this as much as possible, but ultimately they know their game best.

To talk a bit more about the team at Hamburg, what can our attendees expect to hear from you?

I’m giving a talk about how rewarded play can be a huge booster to ad monetization. We’ll look at some examples that you wouldn’t find in our public cases studies, which I’ve chosen based on things I thought were interesting and insightful, not necessarily because they yielded the best results. Then we’ll look at how this works as an integration and what it requires from a games team and finally discuss a few forward looking ideas on how rewarded play can be improved.

Final question, what are you most excited about for attending Gamesforum Hamburg?

I’m excited for: new business connections, continuing a few promising conversations that started at GF Barcelona, meeting up with old industry friends and getting to meet cool people that might also become friends, regardless of whether we actually work together or not.


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