PlayDeck: "For Telegram games, the ARPPU is usually around $40- $60, and the percentage of payers can reach 5%"

There is little talk about games in the Telegram messenger. We decided to fix the situation by talking with Daria Novikova, product director at PlayDeck startup. The latter launched a gaming marketplace for Telegram. In a conversation with Daria, we touched on topics such as user engagement, earnings from leading projects, monetization and, of course, PlayDeck itself.

About the speaker: Daria Novikova, CPO PlayDeck. Prior to that, she worked on the igaming projects StockBattle and Fantasy Invest.

Alexander Semenov, App2Top: Dasha, hi. Let's start with the key question: can we say that PlayDeck is the official gaming platform of the messenger?

Daria Novikova

Daria Novikova, PlayDeck: Hello! No, unfortunately, we are not an official gaming platform yet. But I emphasize the word "more". We are moving towards becoming one and, most importantly, we have such an opportunity.

If there are such plans, then maybe you know if Telegram will have a separate menu with a showcase of games?

Daria: I really want to answer "yes!", but this decision depends on a bunch of factors beyond our control. I will say this: becoming the "play button" in Telegram is the main goal of our product.

The goal is good. And how did they come to her? How did the history of the product even begin?

Daria: Before the launch of PlayDeck, we worked a lot with the gaming direction on the TON cryptocurrency.

In 2022, we launched a website, the gaming web3 marketplace, and realized that building a clean web is very expensive in terms of attracting users. We sat down to think about what to do.

By that time, we already had the infrastructure ready, and we also saw demand from a number of companies for idea testing tools on TON.

But we wanted not only to satisfy this demand, but also to get scale.

As a result, in the summer of 2023, we decided to build a marketplace directly inside Telegram. This solved the problem of attracting an audience, and also became a great opportunity for us to work with social mechanics.

Let's talk closely about the PlayDeck itself. You immediately position it both as a marketplace and as a set of tools for publishing. Why?

Daria: Can't a marketplace be called a publishing tool? Plus, we proceed from the fact that publishing is a broader concept than a gaming store.

Accordingly, PlayDeck is not limited to "placement" for games. We host the project, promote it with internal tools, and return users.

Since you started talking about the store's features yourself, tell us about the main ones.

Daria: For example, we have the placement of a large block with a banner on the main page (this is essentially a slot with an icon and a description). He's doing very well. We use it for exclusive placement, for push. From the non—standard, we have the placement of the project in onboarding for new users. We also promote games through TG Ads and crops from bloggers.

Also, one of the features is the need to work with the platform through a bot. From the outside, it seems that this automatically means a high login threshold for the user. Is it so?

Daria: We also asked this question and even collected analytics on user onboarding. As a result, we found out that if you tell the user where to click and not torment him with a choice, then more than 80% of people cope.

In general, it should be said that bots are becoming a part of our Telegram life, so the more cases there are of interacting with them, the easier it will be for everyone.

What stage is PlayDeck at now?

Daria: The store itself has been running for a long time. Developers have the opportunity to publish projects, and users have the opportunity to play games.

There are already users who have been with us for more than 90 days. This cohort makes up from 15% to 20% of the daily audience. By watching these players, we better understand what to do next.

How much has been realized in it by now?

Daria: Now Playdeck is a place where you can play games. We want to increase value by focusing on the search scenario, content selection.

At the next stage, a meta add-on will appear in Playdeck, which will allow you to play with friends, compete in chats, receive awards and participate in sweepstakes. I want the player to always have a kaleidoscope of entertainment at hand.

Plus, of course, there are plans to improve the flow, polish conversions in the first session, make payments, and new mechanics — for example, a single coin inside the marketplace.

Was there something that turned out to be impossible to do for technical or legal reasons?

Daria: Pause during the game session! For example, a friend wrote to you, you clicked on the notification and that's it — the session has closed, you need to start over. Together with the Telegram team, we want to make sure that the game window can be minimized in the same way as audio or a circle.

What is the current situation with the audience of PlayDeck projects? How numerous is it?

Daria: The MAU of the marketplace varies depending on the activities. The average MAU PlayDeck is 1.2 million, and the total number of gaming sessions is more than 4 million.

Is the marketplace being promoted among users?

Daria: Yes, of course it is. The main things we do are collaborations, purchases from TG channels and bloggers, TG Ads, as well as launching our own promotional games. Of the collaborations, Notcoin worked best, of the promo games - "Wheel of Luck".

If we talk about the promotion of gaming products, how do you usually ensure the usability of a particular game?

Daria: We are working hard on features so that each project gets its own users. Feathering allows you to highlight new items, popular games, and games by genre. We are also additionally promoting projects in which we see great potential.

How easy is it for a game project to gain an audience in Telegram? And is there any understanding of how much traffic costs here?

Daria: It is difficult to recruit a separate project, it is easier to publish with us or in other places on Telegram, where there is already an audience.

The cost of each launch of a standalone game costs the developer 0.2 — 1 dollars.

How many projects are currently being operated within the framework of the platform?

Daria: Now there are more than 75 projects in PlayDeck.

When we talk about Telegram games, what technologies and standards are we talking about?

Daria: For the messenger release, games that have already been made for the web or games that are easy to adapt to it (Unity, Cocos) are suitable. It is important that the game does not weigh more than 50 MB, otherwise the user will get tired of waiting for the download.

Are there any pitfalls when transferring HTML5 projects to Telegram? Or is there no need to port at all and a minimum of edits to a regular web build is enough?

Daria: There is no need to port the project. Playdeck is a web platform. But you still have to prepare the web build for launch in Telegram. All games in Playdeck run on our wrapper page inside an iFrame and interact with it via postMessage. We have a number of methods that need to be used for the game to work correctly.

Can you name the leading platform games and what metrics they managed to achieve?

Daria: First of all, I want to note that the organic number of game launches, their average DAU, is very different from the metrics of those projects that we actively promote.

For example, there is the Magic World project, which has received more than 150,000 users and more than 1.6 million launches.

I am very concerned about the retention of such projects. As far as I understand, they do not have icons on the table, they are launched through a bot. Accordingly, the question is, how to work on retention in such conditions?

Daria: Retention is the main task that the product works for. The basic method is to send push notifications about both the game and the product in general.

An additional way to return to the games is through the general market and the "Wheel of Luck".

And, since we're talking about him, what level of retention can a game achieve within Telegram?

Daria: It should be said here that the retention of the bot itself is higher than that of a single project. This leads to a conclusion that is confirmed by analytics: one user launches several different game projects within the same session.

Therefore, we recommend developers to work on the effectiveness of promotional materials and support the games from their side. On average, PlayDeck game projects have a first-day retention rate of 20% or higher.

And what about your monetization?

Daria: There are ads and IAP.

The situation with advertising monetization is as follows: at the moment, a solution is being developed that we can transfer to the developer for integration inside the games, in parallel we are testing advertising monetization inside the product itself: the user can watch the advertisement and receive a reward in the "Wheel of Luck".

IAP support for games has appeared on the platform relatively recently. Therefore, not all projects currently have payments. But we are most interested in projects with such monetization.

Can you share cases about how much top projects earn?

Daria: For projects with IAP, the ARPPU indicator is usually around $40- $60. The percentage of those paying varies greatly. One of the projects reached 5% PU. At the same time, do not forget that payments in Telegram are not yet familiar to all users.

How big is the request for the ability to operate Telegram games from developers now? What do they usually expect?

Daria: They expect the same thing from all other gaming platforms — traffic.

The Telegram gaming market is a developing niche. We are seeing an increasing trend in demand from developers of both web2 and web3 projects.

One of the most pressing issues that concerns distribution within the store is the attitude of the stores towards this. How do they look at the fact that such an option appears inside the messenger?

Daria: We didn't ask for their opinion.

Technically, the web app is not part of the Telegram application, but an external site with the ability to display in the messenger, so we do not see much risk here.

What can we expect in terms of announcements/implementation of certain functions from PlayDeck in the near future? Roughly speaking, what is the pipeline?

Daria: We are working on the currency inside the market for convenience and transaction growth. We make sure that projects get more audience, share, and use all the features and advantages of the marketplace in the messenger.

Are you ready to share a forecast of what results should be expected from the platform during the year?

Daria: 10 million active audience and more than 1000 games!

Well, good luck. I hope you will succeed! And thanks for the interview!

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