Mobidictum interview with Ben Cousens, ZBD’s CSO

Mobidictum had the privilege of conversing with ZBD’s Chief Strategy Officer, Ben Cousens. With a background in investment and a keen eye for transformative technologies, Ben Cousens provides an insider’s perspective on ZBD’s mission to revolutionize the gaming landscape.
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At the heart of ZBD’s vision lies their innovative app, a portal to a world where gamers can earn Bitcoin rewards for their gameplay prowess and social interactions. But ZBD’s influence extends beyond gaming; their integration into diverse digital experiences signals a broader movement towards redefining value creation in virtual spaces. Join us as we delve into the intricacies of ZBD’s approach, exploring the symbiotic relationship between rewards, engagement, and retention in gaming.

Tell us about yourself and your role at ZBD

I’m the Chief Strategy Officer for ZBD where I lead the business and partnerships part of our team and help guide us as we navigate short-term goals alongside our large-scale vision of creating real economies in digital worlds and allowing money to move online as seamlessly as information. I met ZBD while I was at Lakestar, investing in companies like 1047 Games and Netspeak Games. I actually invested in ZBD early on but jumped ship to join their leadership team. I was very quickly hooked on the Bitcoin Lightning Network and the potential it has to revolutionize the games industry and, most importantly, what the super-talented team at ZBD was creating. 

Could you provide more details about the ZBD app?

The app is the gateway to the  ZBD ecosystem. Inside, you can discover fun ways to earn Bitcoin rewards by playing games, completing surveys, posting on social media, and more. In many ways, the app is a portal to all the services offering real-time rewards using ZBD’s technology. Players can discover games such as ‘Homegrown’ and ‘Braindoku,’ earn Bitcoin within those games, and then withdraw them into the ZBD app. From there, the (not so) hard-earned rewards can be redeemed in a variety of ways, one method being gift cards for places like Google Play, Amazon, and Steam.

The app empowers creators to introduce financial incentives and enables users to generate real value within virtual spaces.

Beyond gaming, the app features ZBD Social, a fresh take on social media where users can ‘zap’ Bitcoin to each other to reward fellow users for individual posts. It’s the world’s first open social platform where creators take home 99% of their earnings. We’ve already integrated ZBD’s API into non-gaming experiences with partners, including ‘Fountain’, an app that lets users earn Bitcoin as they listen to their favorite podcasts, essentially streaming both audio and cash to the user! And ‘Slice,’ a browser extension that allows users to generate income for their time spent online (through seeing ads in their browser). With a pipeline of innovative partnerships launching over the next 18 months, it will be super exciting to see how this space develops outside of gaming, with the likes of “value for value” models replacing subscriptions.

How do rewards benefit gamers? 

Rewards have been a crucial part of the gameplay experience, an example being the satisfying ding of a Playstation Trophy or Xbox achievement. Adding Bitcoin to the mix brings real-world value to digital victories. Ultimately, gamers feel more engaged as they stack up rewards in genuinely-fun experiences; as their in-game progress rises, so too does their ZBD wallet. 

How do rewards benefit developers – particularly in regards to retention?

For developers, giving away cash may at first sound contradictory to boosting overall revenue, but it’s certainly not the case. Rewarded play is massively impactful on retention, as gamers keep returning to earn Bitcoin as they play. 

Essentially, developers are putting a percentage of revenue back into the community and rewarding the growth of a devoted player base. Not only does this strengthen the relationship between developers and players, but it’s also surprisingly sustainable. Since the rewards scale with the player base, they may start deceptively small, but as your users grow so too does the revenue and their share.

Whilst in the game, other monetization methods can be extremely effective, whether that’s through in-app purchases or advertisements. Ultimately, the benefit is simple: increasing cash for both the gamer and developer.

Could you share some of the developers and studios ZBD works with?

We’re lucky to work with a huge range of developers, from household names like Square Enix to leading Bitcoin game developers such as Fumb Games, as well as independent creators. The benefit of the ZBD API is that the payments tech isn’t restricted to mobile games. For example, last December, we let PC players of the FPS Splitgate compete for a mighty prize pool of 0.5 Bitcoin. By using the Bitcoin Lightning Network to share the prizes, winnings could be instantly redeemed, stopping the traditional frustration of having to wait for tournament winnings to come into a bank account.

Could you highlight some success stories related to ZBD integration?

Yes, one of the best ways to show the impact of ZBD integration is through ARPDAU figures. We’re finding that across genres, revenue from daily users is boosted dramatically. For the puzzle game Braindoku, the ARPDAU rose by 24%, and Square Enix’s Ludo Zenith saw an 82% rise. As mentioned above, the benefits of retention mean players keep coming back for more rewards, and we’ve seen that reflected with a +1215% boost to day 30 retention for Bitcoin Miner!    

Is rewarded play more favored by a specific generation of players?

Historically, our audience has skewed towards young males from Gen Z and millennials. As a Bitcoin-powered system, those generations are the early adopters of this technology. It’s starting to even out, though, as we bring on more mainstream games and introduce more ways for people to use their rewards (like gift cards and prepaid debit cards). Basically, the Bitcoin aspect of it is disappearing into the background, it’s just a tool that makes it work. The trend we’re seeing now in our user base is becoming a mirror of the overall casual mobile games user base since that’s where most of them encounter ZBD. 

Are there any upcoming collaborations or projects on the horizon for ZBD?

Always! As fintech powers digital economies, collaborations with content are basically our bread and butter. For example, in December, we partnered with 1047 Games’ Splitgate for a major Bitcoin Lightning-powered tournament. There are constantly new games coming out on ZBD and while I’m not able to reveal full details, I can say we are very excited about a super innovative take on social media fused with gaming that is coming out from a superstar team! 

Ben Cousens
Chief Strategy Officer, ZBD

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