PGC Seattle Speaker Spotlight: APPatheia CEO Kelly Maguire to discuss marketing and business on a budget for indies

Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 will take place on May 13th to 14th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we’ll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

For more details on PGC Seattle and to book a ticket, head to the website here.

Today we’re talking to APPatheia and Vuja De Digital founder Kelly Maguire, who will be hosting a talk entitled: Marketing & Business on a Budget for Indie Developers.

APPatheia is an independent mobile games studio while Vuja De Digital is a cutting edge digital marketing agency.

Maguire brings a wide variety of skills and experience in various fields. A business and e-commerce degree holder with a focus on entrepreneurship from DePaul University, he has been the key driving force behind the efforts of APPatheia to date, having developed the game concepts, marketing strategies, and monetisation systems.

PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a bit about the company

Kelly Maguire: The mission of APPatheia is to develop an innovative and unique app marketing platform that shifts the balance of power back to independent developers while also creating high quality, addictive and fun original mobile games and mobile apps. All of this while working to introduce game-changing concepts to the mobile marketplace through constant ideation, innovation, experimentation, and refinement.

Through these efforts, APPatheia’s goal is to establish a loyal and valuable fan base with the objective to constantly and consistently delight them and a marketing network capable of constantly introducing new apps.

The vision of APPatheia is to become a mainstay mobile marketing and development studio with well-established marketing channels, a vast and loyal user community, several high ranking and high grossing mobile game titles, a portfolio of utility based problem solving apps and a reputation as one of the most visionary mobile companies capable of bringing successful mobile titles to market.

What does your role entail?

As the co-founder of APPatheia, my role is to develop the game and app concepts we would like to pursue. Once the concepts are in place, I conduct market research to discover the viability of the idea in the existing market.

If the concept seems to fill an existing gap or need, I then turn to developing an execution plan to determine the process by which the concept could be built, tested, and ultimately launched. Once each concept has been vetted and planned, it goes into a queue for future projects that APPatheia will pursue as it generates resources to help grow the company’s ability to add projects.

Beyond general ideation and planning, my role as co-founder in another business, Vuja De Digital, sees me actively involved in the digital marketing space, working with clients on all digital strategies including paid and organic advertising across display, search, and social channels.

In addition to general client advertising, this entity has allowed me to cross-pollinate interests with APPatheia as the knowledge gained from APPatheia has given rise to several consulting positions with other studios on their app and game project. It’s helped develop marketing strategies and plans as well as helping to craft and reformulate app design and experiences to better fit market demand and needs.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

I have always been interested in games, even as a kid when I developed my own board game ideas and early basic games on TI calculators. While I didn’t choose to pursue a coding path, this passion for games would stay in me until an opportunity arose to revisit it.

While working for an ad agency, a client campaign offered a great opportunity to try an ‘advergame’. I went about ideating and developing this advergame and it went on to be a tremendous success, leading to several more successful games for clients.

With this newly ignited passion, I decided to learn all I could about the burgeoning app space. Once I started learning I was hooked and decided to try my hand at developing a game. This led to a small project to get something to market, which led to a larger project to see if I could build and launch something that actually saw success, which I did, creating a game that went as high as 69th in the charts and reached third in the sports category just behind EA Sports and the NFL’s game.

Once I knew I could come up with good game ideas and that I could market them, I decided to go big and try to build a large commercial project. That project is my current effort which is nearing completion and has brought with it many of its own learning experiences.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

Be prepared for a long, hard road that you must truly want to go down. You will run into obstacles, roadblocks, and challenges you can’t possibly anticipate and if you are not committed, they will derail you.

However, if you love the industry and your project and you are determined to see it through, you will have an advantage over most others trying to make it. The mobile space takes time, money, energy, and luck. You can account for the first few but luck, you can simply prepare yourself to get lucky, you cannot make it happen.

You do have to buy a ticket to win, and properly planning and considering all aspects of mobile success beyond just the app idea itself, but marketing and monetisation too, is akin to buying many tickets giving you a better chance at winning.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

In the last 12 months I believe that the industry has been very copycat focused. This has been clear with the battle royale format amongst other things.

It is an industry of “if it works copy it”, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is important that new innovation continues to thrive and that it continues to be rewarded by getting the coverage and exposure it deserves instead of being drowned out by the biggest players.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

The trends I see in the next 12 months are as devices continue to get more powerful, we will continue to see advancement in the augmented reality and virtual reality spaces. These have been the next big things for a while but at some point, soon we will start to see commercially viable projects that will generate the mass adoption needed to finally realise those predictions.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

Since I first started, launching and finding success in the app stores has become exponentially harder. Getting funding or even a publisher deal has become much more difficult.

Overall, the independent developer space has been squeezed and it is harder than ever to succeed in a top-heavy industry. It has to truly be a passion project to have any chance of success and even then, it still requires a heavy dose of fortune and help.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

I am most looking forward to the networking opportunities that the conference offers because networking and connecting with others is paramount to finding elusive success.

No one can do it on their own and advice, perspectives, criticism all help to prepare for success. You never know who you will meet, what projects you will learn about and what may come of it all.

Find out more about Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 on the website.

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