Mobile gaming is a tough business, but Voodoo has been able to evolve with the times. After years of pioneering hypercasual, the company has more recently set its sights on making casual mobile games with deeper metas and monetization tactics. This pivot sparked major changes across the organization, but it’s already led to major hits – the largest of which is Mob Control, which surpassed the $200M annual run-rate barrier and is still climbing.

In order to learn the full story of Mob Control, host Aaron Bush flew to Barcelona, Spain to meet with Miguel Santirso, a General Manager at Voodoo whose internal studio, Mambo Studio, has masterminded the game’s ascent. We discuss Voodoo’s unique culture, the origin story of Mob Control, and the key decisions that led to the game’s success. We also touch on what’s next for Mob Control and how the team is managing the next hit on its hands, Block Jam.

This is a case study in mobile gaming excellence you certainly won’t want to miss.

This transcript is machine-generated, and we apologize for any errors.

Aaron: Hi, I'm Aaron Bush and this special episode was recorded in Barcelona, Spain. I had the pleasure of joining a Voodoo event and the privilege of sitting down with Miguel Santirso. Miguel is the leader behind Voodoo's biggest game, Mob Control, as well as a new rising star in Blockjam. We chat about Voodoo's evolution, what it's like to operate within Voodoo, how Miguel's team masterminded Mob Control's blockbuster success, and much more.

Without further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Miguel Santirso. Miguel, it's great to be here in Barcelona with you today.

Miguel: Thank you, Aaron, super nice to have you here. And thank you for coming all the way here.

Aaron: Of course. And I think the best place for us to begin today is just by you telling us your story a little bit.

So could you kick this off just by saying how you got to Voodoo and what you've been working on over the past two years?

Miguel: So maybe an interesting fact to know about me, that describes quite well who I am is that I created my first video game when I was 12. So basically all my life dedicated to this, of course, I studied computer engineering.

I, I started as a developer first in a smaller company called Five Ants. And then I moved to King. I was there for seven years in different roles. My last role was in Candy Crush Soda as a, as producer. And then Alvar from Voodoo, he gave me the opportunity to come to Voodoo and build my own studio.

Now, here I am, it's been a few years at Voodoo.

Aaron: Awesome. And we'll talk much more about your studio, Mambo, as well as the games that you've been working on later in this interview. But I think we should spend a little bit of time just talking about Voodoo, how it works, what's changed set the context for what we'll dig into later.

And so to start, maybe you can just tell us a bit about how the studio system works inside of Voodoo. And maybe what's. changed over the past couple of years.

Miguel: Yeah, no, first of all, I love to speak about Voodoo because it's a really different company. I come from King. I have many friends in many other companies in the industry.

And I can tell you, Voodoo is really unique. The founders I don't think they would define Voodoo as a gaming company and maybe they would define it more as a tech company. Interesting. Yeah. And they see the company. Almost like an umbrella for many initiatives that they fund and they, if, when something works they put more money into it when something doesn't work, maybe they tweak it or they stop it.

And inside this umbrella, you have a constellations of many studios. Many are internal, many are external, but pretty much they all work in the same way. And we are independent. One important thing to know about Voodoo is that we create silos by default. In most companies, they want to create like a unique culture, almost like a sect, everyone thinks the same, everyone works in the same way.

At Voodoo now, at Voodoo, each studio. It's their own, almost like their own mini company and they manage their future autonomously. So it's really unique and very fun.

Aaron: Gotcha. And since you mentioned how internally the team views Voodoo just as much as a technology company as a gaming company, I'll go ahead and ask for this now, just because the topic has been.

On a lot of people's mind lately, the Voodoo recently acquired Be Real, the social media app and that's not the only social media app with Edge or Voodoo. And obviously your job is centered very much on games, but maybe you can speak for Voodoo at a high level just what's going on here like why focus on social media?

Why focus on these other things?

Miguel: Yeah. First of all, because of the reason I gave you before, I don't have a lot of detailed information. We are siloed by default. But I can go back to the mission of the company. The mission of the company is literally entertain the world. And it doesn't have to happen through video games.

Of course, mobile gaming, it's one of the top ways to entertain the world, but social media, maybe it's as well the other one that is really big in smartphones today. So of course, Voodoo is in social media and social networks. Of course, we have already a social network for teenagers.

And honestly, I wasn't a part of the negotiations, but I think we'll do this for the opportunity to buy this really unique company, which is the real, maybe the only really successful one in the last 10 years, I think it was a good deal. And we went for it, you have to risk in life to, to get stuck too.

Aaron: Yeah. I'm excited to see where all of that goes but back to games. One thing that has defined Voodoo's story over the past couple of years has been it's pivot from all things hyper casual to now hybrid casual. We're really just. Um, I'm curious when it comes to like how the studios work within Voodoo, how the games get made and go through Hootie's process, how has the process of prototyping and then testing and then iterating versus discarding, like, how has all of that changed in the past couple of years?

Miguel: Huge changes. And really, honestly, kudos to the whole company for doing this in two to three years. So really impressive too. Transition the whole company completely and one thing about the hyper casual.

Aaron: It's some years ago we said that hyper casual is that?

Miguel: Like it was said many times now, maybe we'll start saying that hybrid casual is that because as you mentioned, in reality we see this just as a stepping stone towards the really the casual or mid core games that we want to build eventually. In terms of how we change the, I think it's pretty much the same. We still have the same high paced prototyping culture that we had in the past. We had it in what we call the core division of the company. Maybe the difference is that now we have this bigger, more long term oriented studios in the live division, which is for example where my studio belongs.

That we are prepared to take this kind of like gems that the core revision fines, we take them and we build them into a long term sustainable business. So that's the difference. However, the hypercasual spirit, it's still very useful in the prototyping part of the business.

Aaron: Gotcha. What are the metrics of success that your team or Voodoo at large looks for to take something that has been a prototype or has been made by the core team that then your studio would then pick it up and take it to the next level?

Miguel: So this has really changed. That's maybe it's the one thing that, that when I look back three years ago, this has changed three, four years ago.

I think Voodoo. Had a more narrow approach to these when with hard thresholds that for example, if a game is about a certain number in CPI, then it will be immediately killed. I think now we are less dogmatic. We look at the overall picture. We look at all the metrics. Like for example, we look at even detailed things like, okay, this game has a no ads in app purchase.

How many people are deciding to. Remove the ads, right? Because if you, if a player pays whatever, 5 to remove the ads, it's because they are seeing themselves playing this game long term. So even that small thing, which is, it look, it could look like a very detailed we focus on this type of things as well.

So it's like a more overall picture and it's a lot more intuitive than before less let's say scientific. And the other thing that it's a bit more as well nuanced than before is that. We tried to see a long term we tried to find a long term vision for the game. Maybe the game has good metrics, but nobody can really imagine how this game could become a top 20 grossing game, and maybe we will not take it.

Aaron: Gotcha. So I guess now I'm curious, can you tell us about Mambo Studio itself? What was the story of how that got started and how do you run it? How does it operate?

Miguel: Yeah. Yeah. So it's super, I honestly, I love it. Maybe we could do a full hour into this now, but jokes aside. So it was built three years ago and already from the beginning, it had a very clear mission, which is to take, these gems that we find from the prototyping process and very clearly, very, like we thought ambiguity turned that game into a top 20 grossing game.

So that's the mission that we have. And honestly, we are still on track to do this. I can, we can go into that later. That's awesome. But this team was built for that. So that means we started with really senior and talented people. For example, I have a creative director that has like maybe 20 years of experience.

We worked together at King and from there we started from our network. We started bringing only the top talents and and basically slowly in, in increments of three weeks we've been gradually evolving the the studio thingy, so that's, the story, we started being five, four, five people.

Now we are nearly 30 people in MobControl. So it's been, it had been increased.

Aaron: So we'll get to all things MobControl in a moment, but a couple more questions about the culture elements of running a studio within Voodoo one perception of Voodoo from the outside is that Voodoo is a, is a high performance culture, but it's also high ownership in the sense that individual studios like yours, I'm sure it's influenced largely by the parent company to some extent, but you also have say in how you organize, how you work. Could you maybe talk through how that works? What did you take from Voodoo versus what is you mean to Mambo?

Miguel: Yeah. Yeah. So first of all, we thought Voodoo, this story would be impossible. For example, all they know how about user acquisition the brand to hire people first of all, having the funds UA and on that, yeah. So mob control, we thought Voodoo would have been impossible for us. But then beyond that, it's true that we have a lot of autonomy, ownership decision power and we're the only really demands from us certain business objectives.

But the way to achieve these objectives, it's up to us. It's our responsibility. For some people, this could be really stressful. For me and the people we hire, this is a challenge and we thrive in challenge, right? The other part which really closes the loop, if we were designing a game, this would really close the core loop of the game, is the bonus system.

All studios, we, and this is, I think, unique in the industry, we are all incentivized with a bonus structure, which is directly connected to the profits generated by the game. It does not have a limit, a maximum limit. So basically the more we grow the game, the better. And it's true that if you succeed at Voodoo and you basically help the company grow you will be rewarded financially as well.

And I think these are only a fair deal. This, for the listeners thinking about how this impacts your day to day, I would summarize it with two. Ideas, right? One is your work. When you're working on a feature, a Navy test on a change in the game, you know that if you do it well, and the audience really takes it and enjoys it.

And, in, in general, in team boosted business, maybe three months later, they, this will have a direct impact on your income. So it's really motivating, not only for, from the financial perspective, but also from the, reward a more intrinsic reward. Yeah, of course.

Yeah. And the other side benefit is that suddenly The whole team is aligned, you know The way to grow and the way to earn more and all that it's no longer to get the promotion before your colleagues That doesn't matter in three years as a manager. I had zero Conversations about promotions, right? People are obsessed.

Okay, how do we make this game bigger? And that's all. So it's really beautiful for. For a good, correct type of people.

Aaron: I love that. Being able to align incentives with your upside and that kind of way. Your team is also fully remote, as I understand, which is also pretty unique. And I know I'm not sure about within Voodoo, but at large, many teams struggle to build high performance, close teams when everyone is scattered around.

Yeah. How have you been able to pull that off?

Miguel: Yeah. No, of course. We come with practice from Kobe. There since Kobe, I started being a producer in candy soda in a full remote setting. And of course there, this was a large team. So we started practicing how to do it processes, ways of working tools. So already when I came to voodoo, I had in my mind are a very clear image of how we did this, but the reality is that it has pros and cons.

I would say two cons. One is that when things get hard, when it's time to push, it's a lot harder in via video conferencing. It's hard to have the sensation of, okay, we are all together in the same room suffering a bit, but we are doing this together. When you are, kilometers away or in different cities, it's totally different.

And the other one, it's a bit more subtle. I'm a bit more difficult to realize. But many of us, and I am, I include myself in this group, many of us, we build our social life around work and colleagues. And what I found is, especially maybe with engineers, which maybe have less tendency to have a social life a very wide social life, et cetera.

I found that many for some time struggled, at a personal level. Like they don't have this social aspect of meeting people and we are all humans after all, right? So I really, for anyone who's working remote, I really encourage you to, start finding hobbies outside of outside of work and start building your friendships and your social networks around hobbies or something which is not work.

I think it overall is healthier. But it comes as a shock for many people.

Aaron: Does your team still come together in person?

Miguel: Yeah. So actually next week I'm meeting with the team for a blockjump twice a year we fly everyone basically to Catalonia to, to the Barcelona area. And we all go to a super nice place.

We have fun together. We do sports, we have dinner, we as well have some social part and we do a bit of workshop, to align our own ways of working and gain vision. We discover how tall everyone is. Not this question of, Oh, wow, you looked a shorter before. So it's really important.

And I can tell you sometimes. You can feel on the, in the weeks after the meetup, you can feel a bit of a better mood. People are more, Oh yeah, I had fun with this guy a couple of weeks ago. Now I want to have fun as well at work. It's it's important.

Aaron: Yeah. My scene is fully remote as well.

And every time we come together, I'm always told by someone, Dio, wow, you're shorter. So, uh, So I totally understand. Question before we start digging into your game specifically as Mambo, your studio and the games that you've been working on have scaled to pretty high heights. How has the way that you have worked with Voodoo changed?

Miguel: Yeah, I am. So when we started three years ago, you have to think that we. Had still not systematized this hybridization framework, right? That three years ago, we were still, we knew we wanted to leave the hyperscope casual space. We knew more or less where we wanted to be, but we didn't know exactly how.

So back then it was a lot more chaotic. I would say like each studio was trying different things, different approaches. For example, I really remember the controversy of. Should we keep the hypercasual game and start with a clone, or should we just take the original one and continue from there?

So three years ago, it was a lot like that. Of course, when you're a small studio, you don't have dedicated UA support. So we were very much on our own. Which I would say it was one of the keys to us succeeding because we were really free fully free to do whatever we needed to do. And we were really focused.

Then of course, as the game becomes more and more important to the revenue of the company, obviously it has, it would think about things. The good thing is that, for example, now we have a huge dedicated team in the growth division for user acquisition, marketing, all that stuff. The central tech team is really supporting us.

So basically we are the, the main the main part of the company that they support. But as well, of course, when that comes a lot of pressure and responsibility, I think now it's a roughly 25 percent of the revenue that comes from a mob control. So it's in the line that stops going, then of course you start getting questions.

But whether it's to be expected, we know it's a business. But beyond that, no, not big changes. You can imagine more dedicated support from user acquisition, more dedicated support from central services, but not much else. For example, if you are curious about product input. It's the same, really really I'm grateful for Voodoo because they, even if they, sometimes they have ideas on the direction of the product, they really trust the teams and they let us choose.

And in the end we are aligned most of the time, but Yeah, I thought it was like that.

Aaron: Awesome. Let's go ahead and dive into Mop Control because it's an interesting story. But let's start by, maybe you can just tell us a bit about the game. There'll be some people listening to this who probably haven't played or quite understand how large the game is now.

So maybe you could just describe what the game is and then. Share some stats around, around that success.

Miguel: Yeah. Very good. No. So from up control for, I wouldn't say I wouldn't be able to say what a genre it is or what type of game it is. It's basically a, an oddly satisfying game where you move a cannon left to right.

This cannon shoots characters and these characters have to go through multiplying gates until, one character can become a hundred characters, right? I think the fun of the game is that it's really easy and it's really mindless, right? You can, we know that many of our players play Mob Control while they are watching Netflix or doing other activities.

And I think It comes down to being very easy, really satisfying and and seeing so many units colliding and all the physics around it, it makes it super fun. So that's the core gameplay. Of course, around it, we've built full power progression where you un unlock cards an economy.

I see some pass over, bells and whistles that you're, in, in free to play. But the core gameplay is still the same. It is really oddly satisfying. And. Past time, it's something that is, I think mob control is really efficient at turning off your brain when you want so that would be around mob control in terms of stats.

I think now we are getting close to 200 200 million. Wow. Which is a huge for us. Congrats. We are very happy. We are doing that with a really aggressive uh, ROAS target. I think Voodoo already made this public. It's 150 in our case, it's actually 160 percent after four months. So if you make the math, that's a lot of profit.

And we know that, for example the company knows this, we could be making the same amount of profit, but with a lot more revenue and have this game a lot higher in the charts, but we don't want to do that. We basically the philosophy is why If it's the same amount of profit for Voodoo, why would be why would we be giving, so much money to all the third party that participate in this business?

So we want to maybe wait a bit longer to do that. So yeah, I think that's a bit of a summary of what more control is for us.

Aaron: Yeah, super helpful. And maybe you could also just share the story of how Mob Control got started, where they do was that, and then how your team got to take it over.

Miguel: Yeah. So it's a great example of this strategy where we start with prototyping in one side of the company, and then we move it to life. Mob Control was actually built by a super talented team in Paris, an internal studio. So different to other games, this one is an internal game. And it was built by a small group of people, maybe four or five people in three months, something like that, from the very first lines of code to when they saw it was successful.

From there they iterated a bit more, but very quickly it was basically it was one of the first games that they moved into the live edition. They moved it to us. We were initially like four or five people as well. And, but the difference is that. In core, they have the mission to prototype many games a year.

Aaron: Yeah. Isn't it over a thousand games a year?

Miguel: Yeah. The whole company is testing more than a thousand games a year. That's crazy. It's crazy. It's a machine. It's really, it's hard. When you're inside, you realize from outside, I don't know how it looks, but it's really a really well oiled machine of prototyping things.

And so when you're in life and you get this one game, out of a thousand, this one game that passed all the benchmarks and you really take it, it's like you're, they are giving you the most prized gift, Oh my God I have a core gameplay that is magical. Somehow we put mob controls gameplay and somehow it has low CPI.

People love it. It has good retention. So it's like a bit of a magic like we'll do like a black market. There you go. Yeah. Yeah. That's why we'll do is call it. And And then from there, we started with one of the first things we did was to have a long term vision. From the very beginning, we know what we want to do with this game.

And we started executing in increments of two to three weeks slowly. And then how it works is the game is always in a worldwide launch. We don't do soft launches or regional launches. We don't do any of that. Our games are always launched worldwide. Full launch since the beginning.

Aaron: Why is that by the way?

Miguel: So look I've seen the two approaches, for example, a king they are super careful, like they want to keep the new game secret. They launched them under a different brand that they don't talk about it. They launched it only in a couple of countries. Yeah. And what I see is. They launch a game.

They take a snapshot of the metrics and say, Okay, cool. The metrics are good. Then they take it off the market. They work on it for three months. They launch it and they take another snapshot of their metrics. And this gap that you have in the middle, it's what kills you because you have lost the continuity of the metrics and You lose the, you're not in touch with the game and the product.

So How I see it is look, we launch it. It's like we have a patient and we are taking the vitals of the patient constantly. We are always pushing a small amount of UA, but it's continuous. So our evolution charts are continuous. We don't have these breaks. So we can really understand if we are moving forward or not in a, on a weekly basis.

So honestly, I think it's a. It's a really good way to do it. I would recommend this to every company.

Aaron: Awesome. So I want to get into the details of mob control. As you said, you basically took a pretty minimalist game that hooks people for whatever reason, and in your studio, you then built upon it in a bunch of different ways.

And so I want to break this down into. A few areas and I, and we can talk about what you have done, but also what you're thinking about for the future as well as some of these. And so to start, I want to talk about like the core and meta design. Like what did you choose to keep from From the prototype that did well versus in terms of like the core gameplay itself, like how did you iterate and build upon it?

Miguel: Yeah. In terms of the core gameplay, again, when our mindset was, okay, we received this beautiful gift. We don't want to mess with that too much. So the core gameplay really, it's really similar to the original one. And we only changed it either. Because it was required for the meta, for example, to introduce the power progressions and different types of characters.

We added a bit of variety as well, because it's true that it was becoming repetitive after a while. Sure. And we as well improved the visuals, but the essence, we didn't want to touch it because we know it has something special. The majority of our work so far has been in the meta. I think the original game after five days there was nothing to do, basically, like the game would even break in terms of balancing.

So our idea was, okay, we'll, we start fixing the game from the beginning first. Okay. We make a couple of changes and now it's fine for three weeks instead of five days. Okay, cool. That was successful. Now. Okay. We make a few more changes and now it's fine for three months. And we kept doing that. Until a moment where we said, okay, now the game.

It's reasonable to play this game for over a year, okay, cool. Now we could, we can relax on that type of problem. And then you start thinking about monetization, about maybe trying to move people into enough purchases. You start doing that. And to summarize the overarching goal is to make the game fun for the longterm and to make it resilient.

Because our biggest fear is something happens in the market. The user acquisition gets complicated. For a month and the game drops too much. This is what we want to protect.

Aaron: Yeah it's already a 200 million dollar game if you were saying So how do you think about the future from the design side?

Miguel: Yeah, look the our benchmark and I am not exaggerating is that mob control maybe in two to two to three years will be next to the top mid core games. And I'm really convinced we can do that. And for example, for new joiners in the team, or even for the team itself, I explain it with a comparison.

Everyone likes to reference a supercell, so we can take a supercell as a reference, right? Squadbusters, for example, I've been told it took five full years to develop, five years, right? Then from there, we will see if it's a success for them or not, but it took MopControl, it took three years. We've been working on MopControl for three years so far.

So we And it's a bit of a happy accident that, after these three years we made 200 million.

Aaron: The extremely happy accident.

Miguel: A very happy accident. But if you flip it that way, then you can see very clearly, okay, we have now two more years to, to finish the game and really get to the level of these other huge games.

And the benefit is, Thanks to this revenue that we've made, now we've been able to use the success and attract an extremely talented team. I think you could meet everyone. I wish this was possible. You would be surprised at the talent density that we have and at the specific talents that we've been able to attract into a game like Mob Control.

So really, I'm very happy about this.

Aaron: Yeah, that's amazing. Let's talk about the production methodologies of Mob Control. Yeah. Because I imagine as Mambo took over the game, as the game is scaled, like how you think about building out the new casual features and whatever else has probably changed a bit over time too.

Could you maybe just walk me through how that works out?

Miguel: Yeah. Maybe, a fun way to say this, that we are in a we are following a post agile methodology. This means that of course we take the base, the best ideas from agile, but we have really removed everything that is not necessary.

One of the key things to make this possible is that We only, or pretty much only hire really senior people and employees with, high entrepreneurial attitude and high autonomy. And when you hire these people, the last thing you want to do is to have producer come up with a list of Jira tickets and then, okay, now your job is to move your tickets from left to right.

We don't want that at all. In fact, we don't use Jira or any kind of. Proper task management and our idea in terms of production methodology is we create small groups of people that temporary groups of people, let's say one developer, one UI, UX designer, one artist, and one game designer, for example, three or four people depending on the project.

And we give them a high level brief of what we want to do. And we tell them, Okay. Now you have six weeks to do this. For example, six weeks is a very useful time box. And then for them, it should feel like they go into a mini game jam, right? Where they are really, and they can organize themselves in any way they want and they can make decisions along the way.

Of course, the rest of the team is there to support them. We have QA as well, which is supporting them, but really they can really focus on their mission for this month and a half. After that, we basically, we do a playtime, they show their work to the rest of the team. Normally, there is playtime sessions, like loads and loads of post its.

They go back to their cave, let's say, they fix what they can in three, four, five days, and then they merge it and ready to A B test, because we A B test everything, of course. Again, Going back to the previous points, Voodoo and my teams are focused really on giving autonomy, ownership, and space for the really talented people to thrive.

My benchmark as a manager is That people in my teams do their best job in their lives with me. Of course, it's not always possible, but it is the ambition I have.

Aaron: What would you say in terms of increasing the LTV of mob control has been the feature that your team added that made the biggest difference?

Miguel: Look, this one I can answer clearly because it's very fresh in my mind. They did really the biggest A B test we've done in Mob Control, and it's also the hardest. I don't know if you've seen it, but very recently just a few weeks ago, we replaced the main progression system in the game with a completely new one, which we call the Base Builder, just for the audience.

Before, we had a linear progression system where you are, like, just filling up These little dioramas, which by the way has been copied by many games. They have. We're going to understand that. It's funny because we need that because of lack of resources, we couldn't do anything fancier. But the problem with that old system is that it becomes repetitive.

At first it's really good to give this a midterm goals, but after a while it becomes repetitive and not interesting. So now we've removed all that. And now we have a mini. base builder type of thing where you have three functional buildings and then the town hall, which is the, let's say the central building.

And without going into detail, by playing and playing, you are upgrading and leveling them up. This, we had to iterate on this over six months. It's been a big effort for us in the company when people were starting to get nervous okay, guys, what are you doing? Why are you working on one feature for six months?

Of course, it was not one feature. It was the main proversion of the game. But now after release, yeah, it has been the biggest AB test. I think it gave more than 20 percent LTV uplift for existing users, which for us, it's huge really huge in our scale. For new users, a bit less, of course, because it's a long term feature.

I think it was maybe four or 5 percent uplifting their first week. But really a huge success. And the thing that makes me happiest is that it made an impact in retention as well, because I don't know what you think, but for me, at least, and for my teams, Retention is always the magic that is really difficult to move.

So me just getting a couple of points there it was great.

Aaron: Yeah. That's amazing. I also want to talk about the monetization of the game. And I guess if you zoom out, Voodoo has gone through quite a transformation and like going from hyper casual to more casual games that have radically different types of monetization tactics, but even within mob control, your team.

Help transform the economy of the game. I'm curious what you've learned so far from that. And if it's specific to mob control, that's great. But even if there are broader takeaways that have been elsewhere, that'd be amazing.

Miguel: No, I think there is one takeaway that is applicable to any game in development, especially if you develop it gradually, as we did.

It's just on based on how much persuasion power you have on players to ask them for effort. When you have a prototype, like a hypercasual game, you have very little power to persuade, right? Because it's a very simple game. It doesn't project long term. So you cannot even convince them to watch a rewarding video, right?

So indeed, what do you do? Okay, you show them interstitials. There is here there is no persuasion required. You just sit there and you Very simple. Exactly. So you force players to do that. So honestly, I wouldn't be, if I was a developer starting on a new game, I wouldn't be doing that. I wouldn't be proud and I would say, okay, look, at the beginning, I start with interstitials because this guarantees a minimum monetization from each player.

Then, and this was the case for Mob Control, then as we started to make the game more interesting, more long term, you start to have maybe bigger goals and a deeper economy, and you start to have some incentives for players to make a big, a bit of effort. Still, we couldn't persuade people into parting with their dollars, right?

But now I can persuade them to part with 30 seconds for a rewarded video. One of the first things we did was to reduce their pressure on interstitials, which, by the way, was the biggest AV test in terms of retention, and we added some RV placements to to monetize with rewarded videos. Our hypothesis was Okay.

We will lose a bit of money in the first three days, but overall in the long term, it will be better. But what happened was actually because we reduced interstitials, people started playing longer. They started watching more rewarded videos in the end. The funny thing is they continued watching the exact amount of ads per day.

It's just that now half of them were opt in. So of course the perception is much better, right? Yeah. So that was the second phase of monetization in Mob Control. And then we continue doing that. We continue deepening the economy. And actually we did something in Mob Control, which I'm quite proud.

And I think it was the game that really made it popular. We introduced the skippets which was a fun, a funny story. And basically this allows for this thing that I call self segmentation players can choose. So basically, look, we have the same placements across the game but If you don't like ads, you can pay, you can use the skip.

Its right. And as soon as you buy skip, its all the rewarded videos disappear. So players are choosing.

Aaron: That was the first thing I did.

Miguel: Yeah, exactly. I forgot for someone like you that of course you are someone that you know can afford it, you like games, of course. That's a great choice. And thank you for computation.

Of course. But then our second market in terms of Dao is India. Okay. India, I can tell you they are not interested in skits. So they can, the game supports both economies in a very elegant way. Then if you look into the future, it is, I don't know, but probably we want to move away from interstitials.

I wish that one day mob control has almost no interstitials or maybe only in certain markets. And for that, we need to continue pushing into rewarded videos and in app purchases. Probably just a spoiler alert, for those copying Skippit. Sadly, we'll have to move away from Skippit and more into a proper hard currency.

But that's the journey. Just as you improve the game more and more, you have more persuasion power with players, and then you can ask them for more effort. And so that's the journey. And I recommend that to anyone.

Aaron: That makes sense. And similarly related, how has the team's approach to marketing and UA changed because of all of these other changes?


Miguel: Yeah. Marketing for me, it's literally black magic. I don't understand it.

Aaron: We've tried more videos.

Miguel: Yeah. And that's why maybe we are good at it. Look, the biggest thing that has changed is number of size of the team in marketing. Now we. We are more people doing more creatives every week.

I think overall the company is doing 500 creatives per week or something like that, which is how we moved a bit more into quality. Let's say less, less like a shotgun approach of doing many quick creatives and do maybe a tiny bit more thought, a bit more thinking, a bit more Polish in its creative to try to increase the chances and as well to try to attract a bit of More high value player base.

And of course, over time we've became we have become a lot better at collaborating now we, the creative team and and as we have a very close relationship, and even if we are in separate divisions of the company, but maybe flipping the question, the things that have not changed. For example, we tried to go more into.

A really marketing approach where we really think of the message and we try to come up with great creative with high production values. For us, this has not worked at all. So it's a bit sometimes as a professional, it's a bit disappointing that it's sometimes the crappiest the better, in terms of CPI, which is who?

Aaron: I, yeah, I have a couple more Mob Control questions, and then we can start to wrap up. But one interesting thing about Mob Control now is that you have this big partnership with Hasbro, Transformers specifically. Tell me about that. How has that gone? Is this a viable strategy for other games in your orbit.

Miguel: It's still an open question, but look, yes, it's good that we had this interview today and not last week, because some things have evolved there. A couple of weeks ago, we released Optimus Prime and the Optimus Prime chapter, because this is basically we have planned four chapters in total for the collaboration and Optimus Prime has been really great for us.

We've gotten, I think they, they told me today, the biggest featuring in the stores in the history of Voodoo. It's not, it's great. I think we got both with UA and the featuring in four days one million and a half new installs, which is great for us. So quite a bit boosting organics there.

And yeah, we basically the two seasons with transformers have been the best seasons. So that's the good side. Now on the. Less positive side. We, and this is personal to voodoo and maybe it's our fault. We haven't been able to crack the user acquisition for transformers yet. And meaning that none of the creatives featuring transformers has performed better than our best creatives.

So that part hasn't been a success yet, but we continue trying. And in terms of monetization in a purchase is yes. They have been the best seasons so far, but it's not Oh my God, we sold double the season passes as before. It was like 10%. Um, Yeah. So yeah, I would say considering the impact it has had and the financials and the effort that we've put the opportunity cost.

I would define it as a success for us. And I am not regretting doing it as well. We got out of learnings, but it's not something that we will proactively pursue in the short term.

Aaron: Okay. Makes sense. So lastly, let's talk about what's next for mob control. You've already teased some ways that you're thinking differently about the meta design going forward, the economy design going forward, but is there, Anything else or anything big that he wants to highlight about what you're thinking about this game's future?

Miguel: Yeah. So look to explain what we want to build with mob control I wanted maybe to visualize a big part of our audience. This is real people. We have a discord channel. I personally speak with players every week. We speak with them. I know the best players in the world of more control and I can see the profile.

We start. Mostly men, but actually, just for your information, one of the top players in the world is a woman. So we have both and I'm very proud of that. Most are men, but regard in any case, men and women, maybe middle age. So from 30 to 50s, even they are all gamers. They played in the past, maybe they play now a little bit, but they still have this.

desire to play games and to feel power provisions and to learn and like this excitement that they get from playing, but they don't have the time. Maybe they have a full time job, they are parents, they're wherever, they have a busy life and they don't have either the time to invest in League of Legends or something like that, or they don't have the energy to go into This meet core games where it's super competitive and you want to throw the phone into the wall.

If it's real PVP for someone to win, someone else has to lose. So ultimately all these games have this flaw in our case, we say, okay, that's all fine. There are many great games in that space. We want to create a game that gives you all these nice emotions from leveling up from learning how to play, learning new strategies, new metas all the economy optimization parts that many people like, but without so much losing, it's a game where the win rate is over 80%.

Of course, that is achieved with a synchronous gameplay with bots with. Some very clever game design. And that's basically what we want to do. So we are going to continue basically working in that direction. We are going in this last six months of the year, we're going to actually, for the first time, start introducing a lot of variety and new things in the gameplay, which is exciting and scary.

For example, one of the next big things that we are doing is a system Where for the first time we are giving you the option to strategize and defend in different ways. Because now if you notice it's like a pvp, a sync pvp game. But as a defender there is nothing you can do really. And now for the first time you will be able to choose different strategic aspects of the defense, of course, without making it super hardcore, but I think it will, players will love it.

And we will have a huge expansion of the economy as well on that side. That's one of the big things. Then we really believe in what I call a life experience. People call it LiveOps, but I'm a bit tired of the word, so I just say a life experience. In the end, we want to turn Mock Control into a platform where we have a menu of different events of different durations, different requirements, et cetera.

And almost as if it was a a live broadcasting, we will be activating the activating events and all the stuff we have been in the technology and the events to do that. And I know already that players love this constant variety and they really appreciate it. That would be the second pillar.

And the third this has been in the backlog for three years now. Finally, we are going to give players the option to team up in clans and of course to compete clan versus clan, I can tell you they are going to love it right now. Even if the game doesn't have clans, there are maybe 50 clans.

unofficial clans in the game where they organize on discord, they all put they have a naming convention in the username to mark that they are part of a clan. They have their own tutorials. There is a whole community there and we are going to give them the tools to expand on that. So I'm really excited about that.

Aaron: Yeah. That sounds exciting. I'm really intrigued to see where all of this goes. But a few final questions for you that we can quickly hit on as we, we wrap up. First Mongo studio is no longer just a one game studio. Your team recently took over Blockjam, I believe, which is another rising star within Voodoo.

Could you tell us about the transition from going to add more games? Maybe you can share briefly what Blockjam is.

Miguel: Yeah, Blockchain, first of all, it's a game that was built outside of Voodoo initially. It was built by a super talented company in the U. S. actually, called PartyApp. And they built the core gameplay.

The game showed great promise, so Voodoo decided to create a very strong collaboration with them. And we worked with them for some months, and then ultimately, Following our strategy, we decided to move it into a live studio. This is the same that we do with all the all the games. And yeah, Blockjam is this puzzle game where you basically have to tap on cute characters that have colors.

And they go down into a limited tray. And when you match three, they disappear, making more space for other color characters. And there are many games like, like this one. But. And for example, coming from Candy Crush, the big difference I see is that in this game, you have a lot of depth strategic depth.

You can see many layers of the colors that are coming to you. In Candy Crush, of course, it's random and they are coming, it's reshuffling all the time. This has pros and cons, but for many people, this creates a much more interesting strategy and much more thinking. So it's a. I would categorize it within the puzzle space of mobile games and a bit niche in the sense that it's a bit more brainy and a bit more of a thinking game.

So that's Blockjam. And yeah, that's it.

Aaron: Yeah, how do you think about managing that game differently from Mob Control?

Miguel: No, we the opposite. I think we manage both games in the same way. And we apply the same philosophy Voodoo applies to the studios. Even if both games are within one studio, the two teams are separated.

Of course, they collaborate. We build technology together. We do other things. But the two in terms of Orchard and stuff they are completely isolated. And we, but we try to manage them in the same way because in the end it's a reflection of my personality, so they follow the same process.

Aaron: Makes sense. So MobControl seems like it still has a big future. Blockchain seems like it has a big future too. Is there anything else about Mambo Studio that you're excited about for the future?

Miguel: For now? No. Look, I'm a person that really, I, Maybe I have an idea long term, like a very big idea, but I don't like to create a detailed long term plans because anyway, they are impossible to execute.

Things are always changing, especially in a company as crazy as Voodoo, where there are new things happening every quarter. I don't, I'm not that a big long term planner. What I can tell you is that we, I am really impressed with the talent density that we achieved. We have two super talented teams.

We have long term visions, exciting long term visions for the two games. And I hope that if we meet again the both games will be much higher in the grossing charts.

Aaron: Yeah, cool. Final question for you then. Voodoo is a big place. There's a lot going on. I was you to book beyond your own studio and look at the rest of Voodoo.

What are you most excited about for the next few years?

Miguel: First of all, if we started speaking about be real and maybe we can as well mention that I am personally very excited with be real. I think it's a social network. That found like a very fun mechanic and it was viral. Many people like it, even today, some people feel like it's dying in many countries.

It's really popular, for example, in France. And this shows that as well, it's same as their core gameplay. Mob control has some magic in it. I think the real has some magic in it. And now. With the expertise of Voodoo in finding ways to monetize it, to grow it, to do user acquisition. I really think this could be a game changer for Voodoo as a whole.

And then in terms of games, the thing that really excites me is because we have this machine that is processing so many games. Maybe in a couple of years we will have systematized this process of growing from a prototype into a big title. That maybe Voodoo will have, fingers crossed, three, four, five games in the top charts.

And that, for us, is a good thing. It'll be a really arrogant changer.

Aaron: Yeah, that would be amazing. Yeah. Miguel, that's all I got today. You did a great job and really appreciate getting the chance to sit down with you today.

Miguel: Yeah. Thank you, Aaron. It was a pleasure.

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