Liquid and Grit
By Liquid & Grit
Join Katie Kuffel and Brett Nowak as they discuss all things mobile gaming! You’ll hear us talking with some amazing folks who give insight on strategies, trends, and features impacting the industry, as well as their two cents on best practices, concerns, and advice.
Effective Insights with Chris Williams, VP of Global Insights at Aristocrat Digital
Chris Williams has been a creative, product, studio and now insights leader in console and mobile games for over 20 years. He has held notable positions as a Project Lead for Indiana Jones at Lucasarts, VP of Mobile at PlayFirst bringing Diner Dash to the iPhone, and VP & GM of SkyRocket Studios at Big Fish which developed hit mobile F2P games like Fairway Solitaire. He is currently VP of Global Insights at Aristocrat Digital which owns Big Fish, Product Madness & Plarium.
November 11, 2021
Creating Systems for Abstract Problems with Tayber Voyer, VP of Product at A Thinking Ape
on this episode we speak Tayber Voyer. Tayber is VP of Product at A Thinking Ape, and oversaw product strategy during a time when the company more than doubled revenue and grew from 50 to close to 100 people. We cover strategies for training teams and individuals how to solve open-ended problems throughout the product pipeline, adopting methods to deal with resource restrictions as a company, decentralizing product management, and much more on this episode of Creators at Work.
October 11, 2021
The Understated Impact of Economy Models with F2P Specialist Javier Barnes
Javier is a specialist when it comes to F2P monetization, and has priceless insight in how understanding the ins and outs of game economy models can make or break a game’s success. We chat about how economy models can impact a player’s perception of a game and retention, the value of in-depth economy tear downs, and much more on this episode of Creators at Work.
October 04, 2021
Knowing Your Audience with Matt Penfield, VP of Consumer Insights at Zynga
We’re joined by Matt Penfield who has worked in consumer insights for over ten years, utilizing his expertise at top companies like Sony Entertainment, EA, and now as the Vice President of consumer insights at Zynga. We chat about the importance of understanding how target audiences think, what they desire, and how that information impacts what features and games get released, and when. We dive into Matt’s time at Sony, and ea. And the invaluable experience he gained while there, and also why VR is definitely not the future of gaming , all on this episode of creators at work.
August 23, 2021
Founder’s Story: PLAYSTUDIOS with Andrew Pascal
Andrew Pascal is currently the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of PLAYSTUDIOS and a veteran when it comes to the leisure entertainment and luxury hospitality industries, having spent over 25 years in the casino gaming world. Andrew unpacks his history in the industry, the people he met and opportunities he acted upon that led to the creation of playstudios, and where he sees the company headed in the future all on this episode of Creators at Work.
August 16, 2021
Remote Systems That Work with Ian Wang, Co-Founder and CEO of Fox Cub
We spoke with Ian Wang, the former Director of Product at Zynga, and now co-founder and CEO of Fox Cub, a social mobile casino game developer. Fox Cub, like Liquid and Grit, is a fully remote company and has been from its inception. But being fully remote comes with a unique set of challenges. How do you communicate? How do you onboard new hires? How do you establish culture and maintain high standards? We talk about creating systems from the ground up that answer all of these questions, unpack concerns about preserving efficiency, how to identify and battle invisible costs in your systems, and much more on this episode of Creators at Work.
July 16, 2021
Good Bets and Better Strategy with Bill Mooney, CEO of Proteus Games
On this episode, we talk with Bill Mooney, who was the former Studio Vice President of Zynga from 2008—2012, leading FarmVille, Zynga Poker, Mafia Wars, and other apps during their peak DAU numbers. He is currently the CEO at Proteus Games, a new venture in mobile gaming. We ask what makes a game stand out from the pack, and how to know a good bet when you see it? How do you find new, strategic opportunities in the gaming space and have the wherewithal to follow through? Bill speaks to the importance of curiosity when confronted with trends you don’t understand, how to stick to a vision without partners, colleagues, and peers diluting it, why we can’t get enough of tiktok’s extremely niche content, and much, much more on this episode of Creators at Work.
June 30, 2021
Balancing Empathy And Objectivity with Alden Seabolt, Former Lead PM at Zynga Poker
On this episode we speak with Alden Seabolt. Alden started at Zynga as an Associate Producer before being promoted to a Lead Product Manager for the Zynga Poker team after just five months. After leaving in 2014 he co-founded Infuse, a business that works to provide solutions for payment processing services and the healthcare industry. Alden now works at Blend as the product lead for the Consumer Banking team, and strives to facilitate lending practices for consumers by making the process simpler and more accessible. We discuss the tools Alden utilized to facilitate his success, the importance of identifying your comparative advantage to set you apart from the pack, how balancing objectivity and empathy can establish effective communication and empower a team to find solutions, and much more on this episode of Creators at Work.
June 15, 2021
Diversity in Gaming with Nicole Opas, VP and Studio GM at Big Fish Games
On this episode, we spoke with Nicole Opas, the former Vice President of Games at Zynga, and current Vice President and Studio General Manager for Big Fish Games. It’s no secret that the gaming industry has classically been a male-dominated field, but it’s one that Nicole has expertly navigated with her skills as a communicator, a leader, and as an example of how creating a more diverse workforce will lead to innovation and success. But what are some of the actual ways the industry can shift to be more inclusive? What obstacles did Nicole face and how did she tackle them? And why did she throw an expo marker at Brett when they worked together at Zynga? You’ll find all that out and more on this episode of Creators at Work.
June 03, 2021
Max-Diff Analysis with Eddie LeBreton, Former GM and Vice president of Zynga Poker
On this episode, we chat with Eddie LeBreton who is currently Head of Product Management for the Spark Camera & Augmented Reality Platform at Facebook, and former general manager and vice president of Zynga Poker. We delve into the research process that helped completely revitalize Zynga Poker, how Eddie and his team used Max Diff studies and customer feedback to drive meaningful revenue change.
May 21, 2021
Creativity Backed by Analytics with Shane Sareli, Former Senior Director of Product at Zynga
On this episode of Creators at Work, we had the chance to speak with Shane Sareli, the former Senior Director of Product Management at Zynga and now a top consultant—if not the top consultant—in mobile gaming. He shed some light on how implementing great ideas can only happen when testing and data meet off the wall creativity.
May 11, 2021
Founder’s Story: Machine Zone with Mike Sherrill
On this podcast, we spoke with Mike Sherrill, one of the founders of Machine Zone. In case you’re not in gaming, Machine Zone released the legendary titles Game of War and Mobile Strike and generated over $5 billion in revenue with 310 million downloads. So, how did Mike go from an Atari play tester to launching Machine Zone? Why did he get cease and desist letters from record labels? How did his company get Apple to include in-app purchases on their platform? You’ll find out all that and more on this episode of Creators at Work.
May 03, 2021
Data and Player UX with Justin Wickett, Former Director of Product for Zynga Poker.
On this episode of Creators at Work, we chat with Justin Wickett, who worked at Zynga from 2010-2013, and was the former Director of Product for Zynga Poker. We unpack his takeaways from his time at Zynga like the balance between analytics and player experience needed to make impactful decisions, the importance of short and long-term goals to unify a company, and the perils and pitfalls around hackers, bots, and fraudulent accounts.
April 26, 2021
Creating Culture with Katie Bolich, Head of Product at Playstudios
We chat with Katie Bolich, co-founder and Head of Product at Playstudios, to discuss the importance of establishing a company culture, keeping a growing team’s vision aligned, and how coaches can help grow and maintain top notch leadership skills.
April 15, 2021
Story Driven Ads with Gonzalo Fasanella, CMO of Tactile Games
This episode was recorded in February of 2020. On this episode, Brett sits down with Gonzalo Fasanella, the Chief Marketing Officer of Tactile Games, to chat about his unique approach to advertising, and how Tactile’s flexible company structure allows for effective and engaging ads that lead to highly successful games like Lily’s Garden.
April 02, 2021
UX Design with Berto Alvaro, x-Director of UX/UI at Zynga
On today’s episode, Brett talks with Berto Alvaro, one of the earliest employees at Zynga who was the Lead UX Designer and then Art Director for Zynga Poker. They discuss in detail the process that they took to create a bold beat that became one of the most successful features released in Zynga Poker.
March 25, 2021
Aligning Teams with Sam Ahn, Advanced Product Manager at WB Games
On this episode, Katie and Brett chat with Sam Ahn, former co-founder of Blue Shell Games, and current advanced product manager at WB Games. We chat about the importance of setting goals, strategies for communicating with all types of team members, and more!
March 19, 2021
Golden Mechanics with Niko Vuori, x-GM at Zynga
On this episode of Creators at Work, Brett and Katie are joined by Niko Vuori, current founder of Drive.FM, and former GM at Zynga and COO of Rocket Games.
March 11, 2021
Product Management with Andrew Ice, SVP of Game Design at Zynga
Join Brett and Katie as they unpack the early days of Zynga’s approach to product management with Andrew Ice, Senior VP of Product & Game Design at Zynga.
March 03, 2021
Founding Murka with Anton Krasnyy, x-CEO of Murka
On today’s episode, Katie and Brett chat with Anton Krasnyy, former CEO and current Chairman of the Board at Murka, one of the most innovative and successful social casino game developers out there. We’ll hear about Murka’s journey from a small Ukrainian startup that faced staggering odds to a social casino powerhouse, plus all the obstacles they faced along the way.
February 22, 2021
The Future of Mobile Entertainment with Henry Lowenfels, x-SVP of Business Development of Scopely
Join Katie Kuffel and Brett Nowak, Liquid and Grit’s Founder and CEO, as they chat with Henry Lowenfels, the CPO of OneTeam Partners, about the future of mobile entertainment, advertising, and how he sorts through information to keep his finger on the pulse of the gaming market.
February 16, 2021
Effective Retros with Joseph Kim, CEO of Lila Games
Join your hosts Katie Kuffel and Brett Nowak (CEO and founder of Liquid & Grit) as they talk with game industry powerhouse Joseph Kim about his approach to retrospectives, specs, workflow, and culture at his gaming company Lila Games. Books mentioned in this episode include Atomic Habits by James Clear, and Principles by Ray Dalio. Be sure to find Joseph on his podcast ‘Deconstructor of Fun’ and on his YouTube channel, Gamemakers.
February 02, 2021