Casual Connect Europe 2016 was a massive success, with industry leaders and independent innovators providing insights into the game industry, including casino gaming and design, next-generation technology, social casino gaming and more. The three-day event, which took place in Amsterdam last month - from the 16th to the 18th of February - covered a variety of iGaming topics, but placed special focus on the importance of the social casino industry and how to keep it thriving.  The following are some notable highlights of the event.

Overcoming social casino market challenges

The multiple challenges that the social casino industry faces and how they might be overcome, was a particularly notable discussion held between Playtika Senior Vice President Elad Kushnir and GamesBeat reporter Jeff Grubb.

According to a report from the online gaming portal Gamesauce, the two discussed overall growth, foreign markets, diverse platforms and the “top-heavy nature” of the industry.

Kushnir offered insight as to how a company could break into the market, saying that a business needs to be able to bring something new to the table. It needs to be creative and agile just like smaller companies that are not afraid to break the rules.

“The big guys, we see what they’re doing, we can assume where they’re going,” Kushnir said, adding, “The small guys are much harder to see, they’re under the radar many times, and they pop out of nowhere.”

Additionally, the Playtika SVP stated that a company should provide an experience that meets an audience’s expectations, which is best achieve by focusing on one specific country or geographic area and owning it.

You can view the full interview of Kushnir (Playtika) regrading challenges for social casino here.

Other big-name contributors providing insight on the social casino industry, as a whole, was Raf Keustermans from Plumbee. Keustermans covered topics including player behavior, consolidation, indie development, trends and even talked about what present industry leaders have that others lack.

Additionally, Paul West, Head of Performance at EMEA, hosted a session that focused on the top app install marketing trends from the top 100 grossing mobile publishers.

An exclusive eye-opening look at Google survey targeting social casino players

In its report on Casual Connect Europe 2016, Gamesauce notes that the biggest focus in regard to social casino gaming was placed on user acquisition and retention. While this topic was covered by several industry experts, one talk in particular, given by Google gaming industry analyst Noam Peri, stole the show. Peri shared the results of a 1,000-person survey conducted by the Internet giant, which targeted social casino players.

Her lecture, which provided attendees with an exclusive look at the survey results, focused on every phase of the player cycle including discoverability, installation, monetization and retention.

Peri noted that 19% of slots players and 43% of spenders said that they downloaded a game but never opened it. This was one of the most surprising finds of the survey, which prompted the question: “Why is this happening?”

What was discovered is that the primary reason that stopped players from playing a game after it had already been installed is time and attention.  Survey participants said that they either forgot that they had the game, that they played other games instead, or that they had no time. To help prevent this from happening, Peri’s suggestion to social casino games developers was to remind their users that they’ve downloaded their game.

In addition to Peri’s fascinating lecture, other leaders gave their expert opinion on the topic of social casino users including Maya Vered from Bidalgo, Stan Iwan from GameDesire, Guy Hasson from Old Man Productions, Hussein Chahine from Yazino, and Anatolii Henis from Murka.

Other notable highlights

Facebook was a hit. On the first day of the event, the massive social media network company shared important marketing insights in a two hour workshop and also hosted a networking party at the Tobacco Theater, which had more than 1,000 attendants.

Vegas World hosted a party at Escape Club on the second day, which also had a massive turnout of more than a 1,000 industry professionals.  Combined, both Facebook and Vegas World’s parties created huge networking opportunities for attendees.

On the final day of the event, one of the top highlights was the Indie Prize Awards, which showcased the best in independent development, giving indie developers their much-deserved moment in the spotlight.

A look of some of the games that showcased during the independent development part.

The bottom line: All those who attended Casual Connect Europe 2016 - from speakers to audience member - left the event with new information, new perspective and new business relationships.

Casual Connect is a global event run by the Casual Games Association; an international trade association for professionals in the casual games industry. Throughout the year, the association hosts professional trade events for the emerging video games sectors in four regions: USA, Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia. Next up is Casual Connect Asia, which will delve further into social casino gaming. This next conference will be held in Singapore from the 17th to the 19th of May, 2016.