Back from Beijing: Interview with Meghan Betteridge

Industry skills and international experience collide in Film Victoria-supported games placement

After completing her Film Victoria-initiated placement with leading mobile game publisher Yodo1, local games marketer Meghan Betteridge has secured an ongoing role with the company.

Secured through Film Victoria’s Key Talent Placement program, which supports industry skills and development, Meghan’s placement with Yodo1 recognised the need for greater marketing and business skills within the local industry. Over six months, she worked alongside their Business Development & Marketing team, gaining an understanding of the inner and outer workings of a global games’ publisher. We find out what she’s learned about entering the Chinese games market, how the placement has opened up her thinking around career aspirations, and – importantly – the job she’s landed with Yodo1 as Marketing Manager.

Welcome back to Melbourne and congratulations on being offered ongoing employment with Yodo1! Before we talk about that – how have the last six months been? Was the placement what you expected?

Thank you! It’s great to be back in Melbourne, amongst friends and loved ones. While it has, yet again, been quite the readjustment, I’m very excited to be returning in an official and rather large capacity, working for a leading entity in game publishing.

It was a full on six months at Yodo1 in Beijing, learning all the inner and outer workings of a global games’ publisher – from business development and account management, to user acquisition and production. I’m excited to know that I’ll never stop learning while I’m still with Yodo1 and that this will keep me on my toes for a long time to come.

I’d also like to share that it was definitely not without personal tribulations, and I did get increasingly homesick as time went on.

But regardless of how I felt on any given day, I was determined to see this opportunity through, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

How has your understanding of games production, publishing and marketing changed?

To be a part of a workplace housing over 125 staff members all working together yet separately at the same time on various projects and tasks, in English and in Chinese, for a multitude of audiences worldwide, was a enriching experience. My awareness and perception of these roles and responsibilities – and how every detail needs to constantly synchronise accordingly – has definitely broadened.

What did you learn about the Chinese games market? How will your experience there benefit your career in Australia, going forward?

The amount of information any games developer needs to familiarise themselves with in order to make informed and tactical decisions, including if and when they decide to enter the Chinese games market, is immense.

There are rules and regulations determining what kinds of games can enter the market, and lots of research and preparation is required to effectively navigate the layers of approval and processes before even moving to publish; differences even apply between mobile and PC. There are numerous platforms and app store fronts – Android options number in the hundreds with the absence of Google Play, just for starters. For anyone standing at the base of this mountain range of knowledge, it can be confusing and even overwhelming.

That said, we know the talent and creativity that Australia’s developers have, and we know the level of success that has followed some of the games it has produced. We’ve worked with and successfully published a number of these Australian titles already within China and globally over the past few years. Following the already popular release of Hand of Fate into the China market in 2015, Yodo1 worked with Defiant Development to culturally adapt the game and increase its appeal for the Chinese audience. This resulted in a 200% increase in the game’s user base within just three short months of the update’s release. Similarly, after publishing Featherweight Studios’ Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari, we saw the numbers soar from zero to over 160 million downloads in just two years.

China’s gaming market represents around 25% of the industry’s global revenue, so who wouldn’t want their fork in that piece of the proverbial pie? My goal is to share these insights with the local industry community, and to open up this expansive and opportunistic avenue for more of our Aussie-made games.

This placement was supported by Film Victoria’s Key Talent Placement program – what long-term impact will this placement have on your career?

For starters, I’m now working for the company I’d earned my six-month placement within, so that’s a pretty good boost to my resumé!

The diversity and opportunities that working within Yodo1 has and will continue to provide has opened up more avenues than I’d previously considered. And while my shorter term and general goals remain the same, or at least in a similar frame, it’s made me want to rethink where I envision myself in five, 10 and even 20 years down the line. So, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Film Victoria aims for this program to develop skills and knowledge, what specific skills and areas of knowledge have you developed during the placement? What else did you get out of it?

Yodo1 has certainly provided me with the opportunity to expand on my own skills, namely in marketing and Quality Assurance, but also to discover and build upon new talents, such as LiveOps, product management and design.

This whole experience was worth so much more than just work and career, though. For the first time in my life I spent six months away from the country I call home, in a foreign environment with unfamiliar customs, language, sights and smells. I had to learn to readjust myself, to adapt on the go. I’ve been to other countries before – the USA and Japan a bunch of times – and could assimilate into the thick of it all, no problem. This was different again, though. It was hard and confusing, and full of things I didn’t understand. But I did it. I slowly became accustomed to the everyday hustle and bustle that was Beijing. I’m very much looking forward to being able to return regularly and plan on doing a lot more exploring!

You said you spent a lot of time creating and implementing LiveOps – can you tell us a bit more about what this means and how it fits into a game’s larger marketing strategy?

LiveOps is another way of interacting with a game’s player base, and it also provides a whole other avenue and ability to see how many players are actively engaging with the game. It helps us gauge whether what we’re providing is what that player base wants and gives us more ideas and insight into what kinds of directions we want to choose next in terms of development and content.

LiveOps isn’t a standalone task, system or routine. It ties into various other aspects of what and how we produce our updates, post our social and website content, and even helps us find bugs. For example, I might post an update or activity via our in-game community platform, KTplay. Players can form discussions around that content, share and even provide feedback to us through that platform directly. We can choose to send interstitial messaging through to our players when they open the application with information such as weekly deals, new content alerts, or link them to external sources like the Yodo1 website and Facebook. We can also gift our players with in-game items and currency. It’s all connected, and finding out what works is different for each game. Of course, what works now might not be what works six months down the track, so it’s always changing.

You’ve taken a position with Yodo1, working from Melbourne – what will your role be and how does this fit into your overall career plans?

I’m very excited to be returning with my new and expansive roles within Yodo1 as both Marketing Manager and leading up the charge for our new and increasing Australian presence. And while I do still eventually want to work overseas, I still have much to do here in Melbourne, and it’s my home.

I thoroughly enjoy the multidisciplinary career of marketing and intend on staying within this field for a long while to come. But I’ve also always had my sights set on production and project management. Working for Yodo1 allows me to work within and gain experience in both of these areas.

Working remotely is a new adventure and worthwhile experience as well. It’s a test to my personal disciplinary skills, but it also pushes me to work harder and seek out new avenues and ways to expand my and Yodo1’s presence here in Australia.

You’ve only recently returned to Melbourne and must be settling back in, but what does it feel like to be back in the local industry? What are you looking forward to?

I was straight back into it as soon as I stepped off the plane; laying out the foundations of my new responsibilities, and prepping for Melbourne International Games Week. I work from home for the most part, but found myself with a large grin as I walked back up to The Arcade for the first time in over six months. I love and appreciate the sense of value we, not just as an industry, but as a community have for each other. It felt like I was truly home.

I could tell you a million things I’m looking forward to in the months and years to come, but there’s so much going on that it’s hard to know where to start. On the personal side of things, I’m very much looking forward to securing my own home once more and having my two fur babies back with me; I’ve missed them so much, and they help keep me grounded. On the professional side, I’m excited at all the possibilities I currently have and am yet to see for Yodo1’s growth here in Australia, and what that will provide in terms of my own experience. There’s so much to do!