What will you listen to in this podcast episode?
1. Minute 04:13 – An amazing background story on how GlowUp Games was created between Latoya Peterson and her partner Mitu.
2. Latoya shares with us how their game studio is focusing on the representation of a huge hidden market, for a market just like herself and her partner Mitu.
Minute 12:27 – “In 40 years of gaming, if I want to play as a black female character, I have like 12 opportunities […]. Mitu was actually feeling the same way in terms of also being a brown-skinned girl, she is South Asian, specifically British, Bangladeshi, but in terms of, you know, not seeing the types of representation that she wants, types of stories and lived experiences […]. So, one of the things that we ended up really wanting to focus on is the serving of what we were hoping with the largest hidden market of players, which are players like us, people who are already playing games, who already love games.”
3. Latoya tells us how they started talking about GlowUp games as the Fenty beauty company in the entertainment industry so people could understand what they were trying to do because the industry still being very male-dominated:
Minute 14:30 – “(people) still think a young, white man is kind of like your ideal player, the person who’s going to spend the most money, all these different things, so everything is calibrated towards that player. There’s nothing wrong with that player. It’s just that that’s not the only thing in the world.”
4. And Latoya continued telling us how even though there is data and players are giving feedback out to the industry on what they really want to see in games, it seems like it is still not heard enough:
Minute 18: 30 – “What was happening in the games industry, and what is still happening in the games industry is that they are hearing from customers, ‘hey, we want to see more diverse stories, […] players want to see more diverse experiences and the games industry is like, ‘Yeah, but you know, what? Who cares?’
5. Continuing the point from above, Latoya shares how this lack of data in the industry inspired GlowUp Games to create a new ecosystem where they try to gather as much data as possible to provide players with the best experience”
Minute 20:45 – “So, that was super enlightening for us and it became part of the value proposition we started building up as the company, which is like, Okay, we’re going to understand our player better than anyone else and we want to have data that nobody else has. […] We didn’t think we need to change it ecosystem. But that’s ultimately what ended up happening. We do need to change the ecosystem around video games.”
Minute 00:05 Natalie, Podcast Host
Today we have the pleasure of hosting Latoya Peterson, Co-founder and CXO at Glow up games. First, let’s say hi to Latoya. How are you doing today?
Minute 01:13 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Hey, Natalie, wonderful, and super happy to be on the show.
Minute 01:17 Natalie, Podcast Host
We’re super happy to have you here. So, before we dive into player insights, let’s hear about you. Can you tell us how you got into the industry and where you are today?
Minute 01:27 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Yeah, so it’s interesting as I described, my career is kind of games adjacent. So, I’ve always loved video games and playing stuff six years old is a huge fan. But in terms of like professionally, no, I did something totally different as a media executive and so I started out as a blogger back in web 2.0, which as we used to call it. So, web 2.0 raises community had an audience like found a whole bunch of folks who were very interested in talking about race and racial justice for this blog called Racial Issues. So, we did that, from Racial Issues and from that platform ended up becoming kind of a writer and a speaker and a host and so for us kind of working regular jobs and then, you know, this new blogging thing really led me to be able to go and you know, do things like commentate on CNN and to guest host NPR shows, wait for like the New York Times, and slate and spin five and all these places that I had only dreamed about. So, it was really cool was a very different time and it was the beginning of like the web revolution and so you know, I did that for quite a few years thinking about eight years. I’m doing a blog and like running and doing different things and then was like, Okay, I need to change and like figure out what else I’m doing with my life. So, 2012 was like a very pivotal year. One, I got Forbes 30, under 30, which was cool for the work that I did the blog, and then I also…
Minute 02:42 Natalie, Podcast Host
Congrats. That’s amazing.
Minute 02:44 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Thank you. Yeah. I got the magazine. So, that was very cool and then I also did a fellowship at Stanford. I spend a year at Stanford, thinking about the future of media and future journalism and then from there, I came out into doing essentially media management. So, I went to outside America as they were launching site work with the international channel and I got pushed out of there to go to fusion, which was like Disney and Universal, trying to do like new things around diverse millennials and what they were looking for out of news, and then I got pushed out of there to come help relaunch ESPN’s ‘The undefeated’, which was about race and sports. So, I did that for three or four years, you know, learned a ton at Disney started doing VR, AR work started doing AI, ML work and so, you know, super interested. In the entire time, I had this really good friend Mitu, who, you know, at that time, we were brunch buddies, rather like to brown girls who were really interested in games and so you know, we’ve been talking and hanging out. We’ve met through other mutual friends for you know, at that point, probably about seven or eight years and so she was coming out of her last startup was like an AI tools company called Spirit AI. So, she’s coming out of her last startup, she was like, hey, we should start a game studio. I have no experience. What are we gonna do? Really, just chicken stuff around, if not really serious, you know? It’s like the brunch conversation with your own girls. They’re like, Yeah, I’m gonna just have this.
Minute 04:11 Natalie, Podcast Host
With the mimosas on this side, of course.
Minute 04:13 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Would you do this, would you do that and that’s probably where it was gonna stay except both Mitu and I are fairly high profile and so someone heard I think some of our friends were like, Oh, Latoya and Mitu were doing something so they told some folks in HBO so we got this call out of the blue that was like, hey, do you guys want to pitch a game based on Issa Rae’s insecure, which at that time was like one of the hottest properties in HBO and we were like, ‘Whoa, okay, this is real. We need to do something, you know, quickly.’
Minute 04:44 Natalie, Podcast Host
It was not just a conversation at brunch.
Minute 04:48 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
I mean, like, literally we’re doing the contracts never like a business. We’re like, oh, yeah, this weekend. But, you know, with that action, it became real. So, we’re like, okay, let’s get into this and so that’s how we became kind of game studio pioneers and it’s been three years since that happens 2019 is when we started and we have amusement whole journey, the whole pandemic. But you know, that’s kind of the origin story.
Minute 05:16 Natalie, Podcast Host
Well, it’s such an amazing career path and we’re so grateful to have you here. This is amazing. So, before we started the questions, we have an interesting story.
Story 05:39 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Welcome to Tales from the feedback crypt, exquisite and horrific feedback stories gone, well ,wrong. It’s 2009, EA decides that they want to send the media an item from the godfather too. The item specifically was brass knuckles. Now, hear this. I don’t know if you know that but sending out brass knuckles is like sending out weapons. So, it’s still easy, and it was back then too illegal in your state, you can just go ahead and ship weapons. So, this was illegal in so many US states, including, of course, California, where EA is based. From here, a comedy of errors starts, in which EA sent a message around to the media and asking them to send back the brass knuckles and apologizing for the situation and however big problem here, if the media were to send them brass knuckles back, then they would be breaking the law by shipping the weapons back to California. So, it was all very messy and a fantastic story, in my opinion. After setting out to get press members excited about being a criminal mastermind, well, they almost turned them off into unwitting real-life criminals. Thank you for listening and see you next week in Tales from the feedback crypt.
Minute 07:08 Natalie, Podcast Host
So, with that story in mind, we can’t wait to hear what Latoya has to say about all this. So, let’s start. For the first question today, we would like it if you can introduce us a bit to your role in the company and what do you do as the Co-founder and CXO of GlowUp Games?
Minute 07:24 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Absolutely. So, I’m a Co-founder. I’ve been there from the beginning and essentially, you know, being a Co-founder is weird, because you have the skills that you thought you’re ready to roll and then when it’s actually happening. And so initially, even like there’s no real role in games for the things that I was doing, and particularly like looking around, at thinking about the marketing, thinking about, you know, how you create a cultural product, thinking about how you build a community around that. The types of writing that we were trying to do the types of in general with the mechanic we created with our friend. All of those things had not been done before and so it was actually Mitu’s idea, where she was like, oh, there’s just new cool, like executive titles. Like I didn’t really want to be the Chief Operating Officer, though I do a lot of that work.
Minute 08:11 Natalie, Podcast Host
So serious, are you?
Minute 08:13 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Yeah, serious and I’m like, I don’t want to do that and then Mitu is the CEO. So, it was like, okay, that job’s taken, so what about CXO and I’m like, what’s the X, and I always like X and she was like, Chief Experience Officer, when I started looking into like, what, at that time was kind of a nascent role. It’s like this whole idea of user experience. I was like, you know, this does seem to fit a lot of the interest that I have, a lot of stuff and I’m looking for and what to do. So, day to day, my lord, it’s just any kind of running a business, particularly through a pandemic, and everything, like, there are some days…
Minute 08:52 Natalie, Podcast Host
You are doing everything.
Minute 08:53 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
And so, Mitu was the engineering partner, and she is the person that has the engineer brain. I do not understand some of the technology and I do some stuff, but I’m not the person who [Cross talk]. Yes. So, a lot of times, like it’s kind of like Mitu got the engineering bucket and that’s like her main focus and then I’m kind of like, over whatever the hell else is happening on the other side. There are days that I spend kind of like, deeply creative and thinking about rollouts and thinking about, you know, that you have to relaunch our brand soon. So, I’m like, okay, you know, who are we know that we’ve come to this pandemic? What’s going on with GlowUp games? Who are we like, how do we redo our website? What are we doing in terms of our Tiktok strategy? How are we working it out? And creating the assets and dealing with that, and also a lot of days that I’m like dealing with lawyers going through legal, the last week was health insurance.
It was, you know, all the things and then, you know, I oversaw a lot of the playtesting oversee a lot of the partnerships that we enter into everything from music, influencers like so it’s a big mix any like day to day, it was so chaotic that I started like organizing my days into this one focus on display, I don’t want to be trying to switch Business Administration days versus doing like accounting, legal and all this other stuff that we need to get done, this Dev-ops and then this day is social media and just being creative and stuff. And. this day is the actual game that I would cover things like keeping employees together and fade and stuff like that.
So, there’s a day that I’m like, Okay, here’s the game design part, like, here’s the pieces that need to come together for that. There’s another day where I’m like, Okay, this is the customer part, here’s all the stuff that needs to come together for that and there’s a day of, again, being Co-founder and like fundraising, you’re telling your brand story, and doing decks and doing all that stuff, and you know, doing future business things. So, it is definitely a range day to day, there’s not really a set how anything comes together. It’s just, you know, trying to respond to all different things that are happening, particularly in these times through pandemic, market, contraction, all of those things.
Minute 11:15 Natalie, Podcast Host
That sounds like a startup.
Minute 11:20 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Chaos and burning flames, that’s what it is.
Minute 11:24 Natalie, Podcast Host
Wow, that sounds really interesting, but really challenging also. And we know that GlowUp games is a new creative R&D Studio focusing entirely on telling beautifully crafted stories using mobile, AR, VR AI and other emerging technologies. Can you tell us more about how GlowUp games was born? Where are you working on now? How do you mix all of these technologies?
Minute 11:55 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Yeah, so you know, we’re a game studio, kind of first and foremost, right? We’d love to make games. That’s what we do. But we realized that in addressing me on these go into address men, looking at the market challenge, so we formed in part because Mitu, and I didn’t see ourselves reflected in the stories that are being told in games and so you know, like I said, I’ve been playing for, Oh, man, 30 years, that’s….
Minute 12:23 Natalie, Podcast Host
Thank you for your honesty.
Minute 12:27 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Like, they’re not there. But I’ve been playing for about 30 years and when I play for 30 years, you know, you would think that there would be the opportunities to play as folks that look like me. So, back in 2012, I gave a talk at South by Southwest, with Naomi Clark and Guy Curl and we were talking about this kind of, you know, video games as people of color and you know, I had tried to find the statistics, I was just like, you know, by hand, going through it, I’m like, you know, in 40 years of gaming, if I want to play as a black female character, I have like 12 opportunities and then, at the time, there’s another law called microscopic, so they were like crowdsourcing and we came up with about, like, 50, or 60, playable black characters, not main characters, not making that main story. Just cannot play as somebody who is black. And it is the same with sports games, and so, it’s been 40 years and there’s only like, a handful of opportunities to play somebody who looks like me. Mitu was actually feeling the same way in terms of also being a brown-skinned girl, she is South Asian, specifically British, Bangladeshi, but in terms of, you know, not seeing the types of representation that she wants, types of stories, the types of, you know, lived experiences that we’ve had and so, you know, outside of a few kind of shiny exceptions, like Def Jam games, and things like that, there’s only a few and far between. So, one of the things that we ended up really wanting to focus on is the serving of what we were hoping with the largest hidden market of players, which are players like us, people who are already playing games, who already love games. So, it’s not a new market, in the sense of, you know, trying to create something from scratch, trying to change player behavior.
Minute 14:14 Natalie, Podcast Host
It’s already there. Yeah.
Minute 14:15 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
It’s already there and so you know, and initially, this is such an interesting story too. Initially, we were calling ourselves the Fenty beauty of interactive entertainment because that’s something that I liked. But also, like what comes lately, it’s not like there was a shortage of beauty companies, right, like the same sort of game companies. But there was a shortage of companies listening to consumers and providing the number of shades and providing what people wanted and so when, you know, Rihanna has decided to shape in a create Fenty. It was like, alright, let’s address this market need and exploded. So, for us, we were like, Yeah, let’s talk. We are the Fenty beauty of interactive entertainment. We’re looking at this star and trying to hyper serve and making sure that they are, you know, in a place where they can be seen and heard and represented and so we did that but what is interesting is that gaming is very, very male-dominated, even so, and it’s very male-focused, that there’s this idea of an ideal player, that ideal player, it’s interesting when people still think it’s teens, and it’s not the average gamer is 30 years old.
But they still think it’s kind of like a young, white man is kind of like your ideal player, the person who’s going to spend the most money, all these different things, so everything is calibrated towards that player. There’s nothing wrong with that player. It’s just that that’s not the only thing in the world. And so we will be talking to investors and like they would literally they’ve never heard of Fenty beauty. They don’t understand what we’re talking about, like they had when we pitch to women, they got to have games [Cross talk] black investors. Yeah, we got it. But game investors… they were like Who? What does that even mean? So, we were coming at it from a very different end game. And, you know, that’s just proven out to be true. Now, even as we’ve gathered data about our player base, and we’re looking at validating our assumptions. A lot of times, what we’re seeing is that this, this strong idea of who plays video games, is speaking much louder than the reality at this point, the data is shown, women are all over the place, players of color aren’t even tracked. So, how would you even know, but we’re still fighting that perception that the only real players are basically like these young white men.
Minute 16:37 Natalie, Podcast Host
I agree and as you mentioned, this definitely reflects player feedback in the sense that you really get this feedback from all of these audiences saying that they’re not represented, and how can people are just getting it now? I don’t understand why this feedback has been out in the world, as you mentioned, for so long and these actually leads…
Minute 17:03 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Yeah, it seems impossible. You know, I mean, I came into this industry, from television and film and you know, we have demographic profiles, you have all these different things. So, I assume gaming would have better information. I was looking for digital, it’s not as old-school and I thought it’d be better. It was not because people still really rely on assumptions and like, that’s one of those big things when you’re looking at like customer journeys and player journeys. If you’re assuming, you are going to miss the most important piece of what your player is trying to say, or what your customer is trying to say to you, if you assume anything. So, you know, we came in with kind of vague ideas, right? Looks like what’s gonna happen and I remember I asked Mitu, Okay, so what are the comps here? So, if we’re making a game about insecure, what else are we playing? What’s going on? And there was no answer and again, you know, over the three years or so that we’ve been doing almost for now that we’ve been doing this, we started deep diving, sort of asking folks who are these high up, you know, game industry leaders, you know, what’s going on?
So, one, they don’t track, and again, how do you know your audience if you’re not tracking them? How do you know? So, they don’t track racial data, like whatsoever. So, that was a non-starter, but they have tracked gender data, and they’ve tracked gender data for 40 years and so what’s interesting, this one was parts that is so crucial to understand about what I’m talking about customer feedback. What was happening in the games industry, and what is still happening in the games industry is that they are hearing from customers, hey, we want to see more diverse stories, like these reports out from all these places, you know, there’s not enough diverse player representation is not enough representation, storytelling, like players want to see more diverse experiences and the games industry is like, Yeah, but you know, why? Who cares? So, you’re gonna continue to do.
Minute 18:49 Natalie, Podcast Host
Yeah, well, a lot of people care.
Minute 18:51 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Yeah, a lot of people care but, like, on that side, no, and you see it in the way in which they treat data about women. So, we’ve had gender data for 40-plus years. It’s not the same problem that we have with race and so you know, things like women drag 70% of the mobile market when it comes to spending, 70%. More so, 50% of consoles, roughly 61% of PC, 35% Esports. Like these aren’t small numbers, any like it’s not like women and it’s been this way since the late 90s. Like it’s not, I think something like a watched a talk from a woman who worked at Max who does citizen sport, and they were like, you know, in terms of video games, 99% of young men count video games as a hobby, but also 95% of young women.
Minute 19:37 Natalie, Podcast Host
Why are we forgetting that number?
Minute 19:38 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
That’s not half the audience that has shown up. But the interesting thing is when you start talking to particularly like men in power in the games industry, they are going off of older outdated assumptions. Oh, men don’t like to play when we were like, Dude, we are 30 years past, right? Our players, they don’t want to they want to see sexy thing. They don’t want to play an actual woman’s story. They’ll say things like, oh, you wouldn’t even play games. I guess they’d like Pokémon Go. The data is right there. The assumptions, the ingrained assumptions. Yeah, they are just, it’s too strong. It’s like you can’t break through in a lot of ways. So, that was super enlightening for us and it became part of the value proposition we started building up as the company, which is like, Okay, we’re going to understand our player better than anyone else want to have data that nobody else has. We’re going to build up the data side, which we didn’t start, we started off man, I was gonna make a cool game. We didn’t think we need to change it ecosystem. But that’s ultimately what ended up happening. We do need to change the ecosystem around video games.
Minute 20:47 Natalie, Podcast Host
That’s actually amazing that you mentioned and leads to the next question because I would love to ask you, how was the Chief Experience Officer and with all the data that you’re telling me that you’re gathering? How are you creating the ultimate user experience? What tools do you have? How do you gather and analyze all this feedback and what do you do with it?
Minute 21:09 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
This is an awesome question. So, you know, let me come from what had to happen. So, I have been an executive for a long time, and I’m used to being able to have demographics departments and people whose whole job is to tell me about my customer, right? I think the most elite experience was when I worked at ESPN because they had the entire unit of fan intelligence, just anything I would ever want to know, any subset of fact, like, they brought everything down to like deep persona levels. They could do panels when you did them, they can do how our black consumers spending their time at 8pm to 12pm and are you watching late night shows, and I could ask that and get an answer back and there’s an entire…
Minute 21:52 Natalie, Podcast Host
Wow, that’s amazing.
Minute 21:54 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
I loved it. So, then we did cash strapped little startup and you know, we’re trying to go through, we ended up going through TechStars and as you know, I need a data mentor, because this data doesn’t exist and I have to go gather it and I’ve done some things like you know, in a past life, I work for my research company and then another past life, I didn’t like, you know, qualify, surveying and things like that. So, I understood kind of some of the deal that you need to do to be able to have things be statistically relevant and statistically significant. But I tell you, the stress involved in trying to like navigate a data collection strategy, with players that no one has tried to talk to. But you have to find normally outside of gaming circles, because one of the first things we started to learn we were listening, is that, you know, our players don’t think of themselves as thoroughly as gamers and a lot of that is because the image of a gamer again, it’s not that it’s not marketed to them and so even if they’re spending 30, 40 hours a week playing games, they’re telling people well, you know, this is one game that we love, you know, whatever this is, but they don’t see themselves in that way.
They see their identities very differently and so finding out where they were, it was a big question, finding out what to do and so we ended up having this, like, basically, we had to do panels, because there was no information. It’s kind of like, get to a benchmark, like, what do you like to do? What do you like to spread? And that was a very kind of like the spoke experience. We did it by hand. I think I did have the 65 or 70 of like the first round of people that we talked to. I think I personally talked about 50 of that first round, just to get us personally, who are you? What’s going on? When we started doing play testing for the first few versions of the game, I was doing the survey because I needed to know I needed to know are we creating every constructing these personas correctly. What is our player looking for? Who is she? What does she want? And so, you know, a lot of that has been a hard spoke process, we couldn’t go purchase the data, it didn’t exist.
So, we had to kind of build it by hand and build it in a post iOS 14 world, where we’re now looking at these privacy rights, we’re now looking at this change and so the wage workers have been able to like buy lookalike audiences and stuff like that. We came in at the very tail end of that, where all of this was starting to get wiped out. You see Facebook’s business model had changed, like all of these different things happened and so we had to get really comfortable with community and audience like does our community trust us? Do they trust us with their information with their data with who they are? And from there, what can we build? From there, how do we figure out how we reinforced this? How do we make this something that not only benefits us but also starts helping to change the industry so that our players are seeing not just at global games, but in all spaces that they enter because we are players because you know, women are players — women of color are players. And you know, they deserve to be treated with the same respect.
Minute 25:08 Natalie, Podcast Host
I agree completely and it’s incredible that you mentioned the way you are gathering this feedback and that’s how exactly how Affogata was born as well, because the company felt that the industry needed a better way to track and analyze all of this feedback scattered around the open web. There are so many places where, as you mentioned, maybe gamers that people who really think they are gamers would go to really niche forum places. But then there are all these other people that also play these games, but they are on Twitter, on Facebook, on Discord, on Reddit and then you have all of this feedback scattered throughout the open web, and then as a game studio, that you really want to understand what players think about you, how they feel about your game, your features, then you can collect and analyze all of this feedback and truly come up with insights that will help you build a strategy, optimize your game. So, I can have like, definitely connect to your words. And that brings me to the next question, which is, what are the top three player insights that bring your team the biggest impact?
Minute 26:17 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Oh, my goodness, I mean, so many. So, I mean, the playtest process in games is so rigorous, and so thorough. I mean, it doesn’t have to be you can skip it because it’s super, you know, time-sensitive, and but every single time I like sat down and recorded with a player and watch somebody play the game, and watch them, like really sit and try to solve problems, and work and it was just so instructive that, you know, it really needs I think, to be a part of anybody’s CX workflow, which is to sit with your players and try to figure out what’s going on what their pain points are. And it’s hard, it’s hard, especially when you’re running start for a small team. It’s like, oh, like, you know, I just want to build this thing. But you really got to talk to your players about what they’re enjoying, what they like what they’re trying to do and it was interesting to hear people dream about our product, think about, like, you know, as one player had said, we were going through, and they really liked the movies mechanic, and they went, Oh, you know, I can’t wait to see what this looks like at level 100. Is it like, it’s all blanks, and no words and like this, that the third and like, you know, at the time, we were just blinking, just make this little like one line work and at had bars populate correctly.
But it was cool to hear how else they were thinking about it and then to, you know, I think this process really reinforced to me, the need for a personal touch with your clients and especially now when things are so automated, and even when I would try to sign things up staffers, they’re like, well, do I have to call this person like, do I have to be on a zoom with them at the time because it’s pandemic? Do I have to be on a zoom with them? Can I just send them a survey link? No, you need to ask the questions, and then fill it in and the reason is, because we started getting so many other responses outside of that survey like there are so many responses and so we would ask a question, but the players would interpret our questions differently and so even like, something as simple as like our pricing strategy, right? So, we had assumed based on other gaming data, that data that we could purchase, market research all of that we’re like, oh, you know, most players are price sensitive. If it’s a free-to-play, they kind of just want, you know, cheap goods, cheap things, nine cents, $2, what have you and so we were asking a question, which is basically like, Okay, what’s your tolerance? Like, how much do you spend? And again, what would you consider too expensive with a $5 item be too expensive, with a $7 item be too expensive? And what our players came back with, I had no, we didn’t even have a concept of this. Until they said it, which is more than one person we did the playtest with, went like ‘I don’t think about it that way. It’s how much enjoyment am I getting from this game? Because it’s I’m enjoying it that it’s like a subscription, like Spotify or something. Or I’ll just pay $10 a month and just keep it going’ and I’m like, oh, we thought…
Minute 29:10 Natalie, Podcast Host
That changes everything.
Minute 29:11 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
I paid for this and I’m done. We also again, like we put up a supporter’s pack, just kind of like hey, we’re a small studio, women of color founded and women-owned, here’s a $3 on an SSL support our studio, and a lot of people purchased within the first time out of the game, which is kind of unheard of an issue. You know, normally you have to fight through your funnel to get any kind of conversions and for our players that were like, oh, we see what you’re doing by, I guess four to three hours. It was a very different mindset and so many different we were like, wow, our player is totally different, and we wouldn’t have known that if we hadn’t done a lot of these things that are like personal touch. How are you losing your game? How are you playing the game? What can we do better? How do we feel about it? So, we did the playtest, folks to playtesting the gift cards. So, I think that’s number two and then number three is just being willing to challenge industry norms.
We knew, for example, this industry was built toward a player that was not us and so I think we came into it being more willing to challenge things and we noticed that like investors in general, were not willing to go there and he was kind of like, well, how do you know this? How do you know that? And some of the stuff you just have to play out through. So, if you have, I would say, you know, listen more deeply to your hunches because your hunches are probably correct. That’s why you’re making something new. That’s why you’re trying something new. So, be open to adjusting things based on what your customer are saying. But I would also need to kind of like be comfortable enough with your hunches to push back against people who are using that incumbent knowledge people who are like investors or folks who have always done in a certain way, because that’s what’s comfortable to them, it doesn’t mean that that’s what the reality is moving forward.
Minute 30:55 Natalie, Podcast Host
It truly feels that you’re making a difference because your audience is so different, that there is no market research or not really knowledge of this industry. So, you are truly bringing a whole different view and perspective on players.
Minute 31:14 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at Glow-up Games
Absolutely and I mean, like this is what we want, this whole time, which is to showcase again, what are the power of diverse storytelling. What does it mean, we connect these folks and so people do feel invested in us in a way that I think they don’t, with other game studios, just even down so you know, like me, right? Like in terms of, you know, who can I go to, to ask for advice as a, you know, black woman, it’s, you know, leading a games company, there just weren’t that many people that that, like Jacqueline Beauchamp, because she feels in need, like, have some peers like that teacher, Montgomery, Janae Bryant, like, fantastic, folks. But like, this is a small list.
Minute 32:02 Natalie, Podcast Host
You know all the names. So, that’s a small list.
Minute 32:08 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at Glow-up Games
Unfortunately, a lot more things, I shouldn’t be a small game, it’s like there are not that many of us people start to find you. So, just you know, I think a lot of this is understanding that, you know, we want to be challenged, we want to be seeking. There is an audience for this and then it’s just about like connecting those dots and being on that journey. It’s kind of cool stuff.
Minute 32:31 Natalie, Podcast Host
Definitely, and how do so all of these data from this player testing and interviews that you were doing which is more qualitative data? How do you intertwine player insights that are qualitative with quantitative data and all the numbers?
Minute 32:47 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Excellent question and it’s a tough one. We’re still working on it in terms of so the qualitative right now because there was no data is the thing that’s like the North Star. It’s the thing that’s guiding us, right, because it’s like, we need to hear directly from people, what they’re doing, how they’re feeling, what they’re playing, what they’re struggling with all those things and then for the quantitative parts, we have, like 50,000 qualified users and the game people play through it, left feedback, figure things out and so once we get to somewhere around with the quarter million mark, that’s when our data will really shift over, that’s when we’ll really be able to change and see some deeper patterns. figure some things out. Right now, we’re looking at baselines, establishing our CPI, Cost Per Install, establishing our CPA, Cost Per Acquisition, establishing our ECPM how much our players are actually spending and again, it’s continually trending, you know, at industry standard or higher. But we need to keep refining that process and the goal, ultimately, is to get to a few million to be able to really say, Okay, this definitive is the data set is the only data set is our data set. But this is definitively the data set that is going to show you that this is what women of color are doing when playing games and so just everything is working toward that point.
Minute 34:04 Natalie, Podcast Host
Of course, and this is actually a question that I was waiting for, which is the last question. But if there would be a dream insight you could get from your players, what would it be?
Minute 34:16 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
A dream insight? Honestly, what makes you play the game? That is the number one thing and like, you know, the rough answer that yeah, basically, my friends are talking about it. That’s, it’s that simple. But that question is so hard because like they defy genres and so you know, a lot of times with the assumption about women who play games is that when we’re casual players. We like Candy Crush we like…
Minute 34:46 Natalie, Podcast Host
I hate assumptions.
Minute 34:47 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at Glow-up Games
But it’s like we like this, we like that, women like casual games, and when we started talking to our players, we couldn’t get like a clean, like we had all these conference 25 comps and we’re like, oh yeah, he’s trying to be able to get like a good consensus from these 25 games that we pulled and lo and behold, everyone we talked to name games are totally not even on this list, right? We couldn’t even get like consensus. No, three people named the same game and so we were like, oh, god, okay, how do we look at and make sense of this type of data, where it’s all over the place, clusters of different things and so that’s my key focus in terms of, okay, what makes you play, and particularly because, for women and women of color, gaming as an identity is just a part of who they are as a whole. So, the woman that’s interesting, this game is also probably interested in live concerts, she might have gone to, you know, Coachella, or Rockland bells, or one of those other big ones, she pays for experiences. She’s probably going to wineries. She probably likes black girl magic Rose and like, the profile of that person, is so vast that we really have to like, really have like, Okay, what else are you doing? What else is happening?
And again, for a lot of these women, there’s been nothing if they’re living their lives. I don’t know, my mom calls it this was cool to try this out and then I like this clothing brand. But that’s how because I feel masks today. But tomorrow, when I feel feminine, I wear these brands and like understanding kind of like who they are as a whole, especially in an era that’s very algorithmically driven, where they want people to be in a very specific box. It’s like, oh, they like this and that’s only visions are clear is definitely more of a constellation of things and so, you know, who are you? And what do you want? is still the core question that we’re trying to answer.
Who are you? Who are you, right? That’s what we want to know, in a 360 kind of way. What is your life like? And so that’s the ideal insight I want to get from my players because then we can design what’s better experiences for them, if we have a better sense of completely who they are and that is the hardest thing to get to get a deep, deep sense of kind of like, okay, who is this player? So, as we design games too, one of the big things we looked at was kind of like the erosion of even like gender-based marketing. Like, that’s just Gen Z is just not winning. They don’t care. Like it’s not today on [Inaudible 37:33] the way in which we have marketing game, boys, girls… No, it’s over. It’s over. New strategy is going to look like it’s challenging, not only where the players are, you also gonna bring your partners and we know you want to reach these folks, but they identify as these folks and so we kind of need to go, this way to get…
Minute 38:00 Natalie, Podcast Host
And it will probably change again and again, all the time.
Minute 38:06 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at Glow-up Games
And so, you know, looking at that, I think, again, who are you question? To me is, the biggest thing I think it’s gonna be 10 years before I feel confident in answering who our players is, I guess I feel like it’s just continuing to continually changes.
Minute 38:22 Natalie, Podcast Host
Well, and I hope you do find that sooner than 10 years.
Minute 38:31 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
There’s a very cool, I’ll send you the slide that we use when we talk about like…
Minute 38:34 Natalie, Podcast Host
That would be awesome.
Minute 38:36 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
And Mitu, she’s so fierce that she’s a fire and she’s so interesting and you know, we take in a lot of ways, she’s kind of like the gaming version of Bonita Apple Ball, right, in terms of like…
Minute 38:48 Natalie, Podcast Host
I love that.
Minute 38:51 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
But again, that changes. So, quickly, these young streamers, like this gamer identity being part of everyone’s life now. What does that mean? So being able to, like take from these macros who any given player is, that’s the biggest thing. That’s the biggest challenge.
Minute 39:10 Natalie, Podcast Host
And I completely agree with you, and I think that is a challenge for all the game studios and in general, companies trying to truly understand the customer, And Latoya, I really want to thank you so much for taking the time to participate in today’s podcast, it was so interesting to learn about your take on the importance of player feedback and experience, so, you can create the ultimate experience for gamers and players.
Minute 39:36 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Absolutely. I mean, I think for all of us in this industry, it is a work in progress, and for every single year it changes so engaging themselves like, challenging, right? At least we have a few years where stuff was kind of stable. You’re like if it wasn’t the trend, and so we’re going with games. It’s literally like every year they’re reinventing the playbook. So, it’s just like this constant cycle of…
Minute 39:57 Natalie, Podcast Host
Learning and learning.
Minute 39:59 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at GlowUp Games
Minute 40:02 Natalie, Podcast Host
Thank you so much for being here.
Minute 40:04 Latoya Peterson, Co-Founder & CXO at Glow-up Games
Thank you so much for having me.