The Deal Maker: Game Circus Data Analyst Mitch Crossley

Developer Stories

March 1, 2015


min read

This is the second installment in our Game Changers series, which spotlights the real heroes of the mobile gaming community ? indie developers. Read on for tips and insights from small studios that are scoring big wins in the industry.Data analyst Mitch Crossley isn?t your typical guy in a suit. Though he oversees publishing campaigns for Dallas-based Game Circus? addictive, audience-capturing casual game catalogue (which has racked up over 150 million downloads on iOS and Android), he?s a console game designer by trade. To his surprise, he?s fallen in love with what he calls "the hidden part of the industry:? the marketing and advertising strategies that make or break a game's success. We caught up with the mellow Texan (by way of Canada) to get his perspective on the business of mobile gaming.What makes your games special?Our mission at Game Circus is to create high-quality, addicting games that appeal to a wide demographic base. When you get down to the fundamentals, our games are very simple. And that?s what makes them so popular with casual gamers.How are they different from the type of games you studied at The Guildhall at SMU? The games I went to school to learn how to create were more like first-person shooter, mainstream console games. But I?ve always liked mobile games ? I think the mobile space reaches a larger group of people. There are people that play mobile games that wouldn?t ever sit down in front of a console.What business strategy have you found to be the most effective?My job changes almost weekly, because new things pop up, but analytics have become more of a priority. We drive a lot of installs and impressions, and we have a lot of traffic in our titles. So for us, one small mistake is then multiplied by the number of people that are playing a game, which is thousands and thousands of people. And because we have that large scale, it?s important to use data to base all of our decisions on hard, accurate numbers.Can you give us an example?Well, when I?m looking at potential partners to run deals with on the publishing side, I make sure to look at the historical data to see how they?ve performed in the past. And I do some number crunching to find the high- and low-performing scenarios. So I can basically make sure I know the exact parameters of the deal and make sure it?ll meet both parties? expectations.What's one lesson you learned the hard way?Once when I was new to taking over the Chartboost publishing side, I looked at one of our network campaigns that had been running for a long time and found out that most of our traffic was going to a certain app that wasn?t paying us very much. So for about 80 percent of our impressions on the ads that were showing up, we were getting a very small CPM ? three cents. There was a lot of missed revenue. [Now] I make a point to check all the campaigns that I have running every two or three days.Where do you get your inspiration?From games that I enjoyed as a kid ? the older games that aren't really made anymore. I like that they didn't hold your hand, they just let you [figure it out]. If you were making a mistake, they didn't warn you that you were making a mistake. They just let you do it.What excites you most about the future of mobile gaming?I?m excited about it becoming more mainstream than it is now. And it?s starting to go that way, where everyone knows Clash of Clans and Candy Crush [and] it?s just understood that everyone is playing the new game. That?s what I?m looking forward to.Quick Facts About Mitch:

  • In five years, I hope I am managing ads for the top ranked game. Which I hope is here!
  • My kryptonite is definitely networking.
  • The game I?m secretly addicted to right now is Darkest Dungeon. It?s so challenging. And soul crushing.
  • My personal superhero is Japanese designer Hidetaka Miyazaki.
  • If I had an actual superpower, I would choose Jedi mind trick because I would be able to win arguments with my wife.