The Art of LiveOps Season 1 Recap

About a year ago we launched a new podcast The Art of LiveOps.

August 05, 2020
text on a blue background reading "The Art of LiveOps"

About a year ago we launched a new podcast The Art of LiveOps​. Each episode features rich stories, helpful tips, train-wreck stories, and even some philosophical musing on the future of games. Guests include folks who work at Zynga, IO interactive, Spryfox, Kongregate, Sparkypants, and many more.

Below we have included a high-level summary of each episode along with links to listen to each on your favorite podcast aggregator.

Stay tuned for Season 2 of The Art of LiveOps coming on August 12th.  Make sure you never miss an episode by subscribing on SoundCloud, iTunes, Spotify, BuzzSprout, or wherever you listen to podcasts.  Check back to the Game Stack Blog to find out when each new episode drops.

Please be sure to rate & review us to let us know what you think! In the best LiveOps tradition, we'll use your feedback to iterate and tweak the podcast going forward!

Your hosts,

Crystin Cox, Director of LiveOps for Xbox Game Studios Publishing

James Gwertzman, GM for Gaming Cloud


​Episode #1: Ralph Koster --> Listen now

What do you think is the #1 predictor for retention? In our first episode, we talk with Raph Koster, a legendary game designer who has worked in online games since 1993 and was the lead designer behind Ultima Online as well as the creative director for Star Wars Galaxies. Raph was there at the birth of modern LiveOps in early MUDs and MMORPG games, so what better guest to answer these and other burning questions for our first episode?

Episode #2: Mike Pagano Doom --> Listen now

Mike Pagano, bringer of doom, wants you to know that if you're not focusing on this, you're gonna fail. What is it? Find out in this, our second episode of The Art of LiveOps. Mike Pagano, an early pioneer in the LiveOps mobile space, shares with us some lessons about LiveOps, as well as diving into how and why it developed in the first place.

Episode #3: Scott Koenigsberg --> Listen now

Have you ever invited your players out to lunch? If not, Scott Koenigsberg has some great advice for you in the third episode of The Art of LiveOps podcast. Scott is the head of product and ad monetization at Zygna where he has worked for over 10 years. In this episode, he talks about Zynga's culture of experimentation and shares his experiences on how games are more about the players than ever before.

Episode #4: Steve Meretzky --> Listen now

Steve Meretzky has been called the Steven Spielberg of adventure games, and the funniest man in the game business. Seeing his name on a game box is akin to seeing The Beatles on an album cover, and his resume reads like a best-of compilation. In this week's episode, this game design all-star talks about what LiveOps looked like back in 1982 and the importance of using data throughout the game design process.

Episode #5: Peter Eykemans & Tammy Levy --> Listen now

Is there a template for free-to-play game success? In this two-for-one episode, Peter Eykemans and Tammy Levy, who both work in monetization at Kongregate, share the blueprint they use to help their entire portfolio of games engage, retain, and monetize players. 

Episode #6: Dave Rohrl --> Listen now

Today we are joined by Dave Rohrl, who has over 25 years of experience in the games industry and currently runs a small mobile game consultancy called Mobile Game Doctor. Fun fact: Dave was the inspiration for "Crazy Dave" in Plants Vs. Zombies!

We will learn about the rise in the adoption of a LiveOps mindset in game studios as well hear his thoughts on the biggest challenges and most common mistakes developers make when adopting this mindset.

MGD is currently taking on new clients for consulting on game design, live ops, marketing, and UA.  Learn more at

Episode #7: Oliver Loffler --> Listen now

In this episode we hear from Oliver Loffler, co-founder and CTO of Kolibri Games. Kolibri Games was founded 3 year ago and is considered one of the ultimate LiveOps success stories. We will hear about how he and his studio subscribed to an "Early LiveOps Integration" mentality as well as some advice to others looking to integrate LiveOps into their work.

Episode #8: Tim Train --> Listen now

Today we are joined by Tim Train, CEO of Big Huge Games 2.0. The studio was originally founded in 2000 and developed console video games for Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and THQ. Tune in for some Big Huge Lessons on the difference a great LiveOps strategy can make!

Episode #9: Scott Hartsman --> Listen now

In today's episode we hear from Scott Hartsman, an industry veteran at launching online games and platforms. He has worked on nothing but live games for his whole career and has a wealth of knowledge to share on those experiences. 

Episode #10: Emily Greer --> Listen now

Today we are joined by Emily Greer, the founder and CEO of Double Loop Games, a new mobile studio currently in stealth mode, and also the former CEO of Kongregate. She will share some insights into how to build a successful LiveOps strategy and talk about the evolution that games and studios must go through to be successful with LiveOps. 

Episode #11: Michail Katkoff --> Listen now

We are joined by Michail Katkoff, the Head of Studio for Rovio Entertainment, a company best known for its Angry Birds franchise. Michail has a lot of experience looking deeply at games and game design through the modern lens and will share his views of some industry trends and patterns across different games.

Episode #12: David Edery --> Listen now

In this episode of The Art of LiveOps podcast, we are joined by David Edery co-founder and CEO of Spry Fox.  Listen as he talks about the mindset shift to LiveOps in #GameDevelopment and how the nature of marketing has changed and what this means for games.

Episode #13: IO Interactive --> Listen now

In today's episode we talk with a group of folks working on the same game franchise: Hitman at IO Interactive. IO Interactive is taking a hit franchise with a traditional box distribution model and moving to a live model, just as so many game studios are today. Listen in for some key takeaways about how to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Episode #14: Linsey Murdock --> Listen now

Linsey Murdock joins us today from ArenaNet where she is the Lead Game Designer for Living World working on the Guild Wars franchise. As a LiveOps veteran and content specialist, Linsey brings a unique perspective on the importance of narrative in live games.

Episode #15: Jennifer Lane --> Listen now

Join James and Crystin as they talk with Jennifer Lane, a design director at Turn 10. Hear about her experiences working on the console-focused franchise, Forza, and how she helped the team make the transition from traditional boxed products to live games.

Episode #16: Torfi Olafsson --> Listen now

Today we are joined by Torfi Olafsson (@torfiFrans), the game director for Minecraft Earth.  Listen as he shares and talks about his experiences working on online and MMO games since 1999.  

Episode #17: Jerry Hook --> Listen now

Join us as we chat with Jerry Hook, Head of Design for Halo Infinite at 343 Industries about the specific challenges of LiveOps in the AAA game space on the latest episode of The Art of LiveOps!

Episode #18: Daniel McLaren --> Listen now

In this last episode of season 1 of the Art of LiveOps we talk with talk with Daniel McLaren, a LiveOps Designer with decades of industry experience. Tune in to learn about the other golden cohort: the committed players.