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Azur Games is one of these organizations that has quietly turn out to be one of the best ten game publishers in the world with more than 1.5 billion downloads. It did so by pivoting into the emerging hypercasual games on mobile devices.
Now the corporation has more than 300 personnel in Cyprus and Eastern Europe, stated Dmitry Yaminsky, CEO of Azur Games, in an interview with GamesBeat. And in the initial quarter, Azur’s Stack Ball and Hit Master 3D games have been amongst the best-20 most downloaded games worldwide, according to measurement firm Sensor Tower.
During this prosperous run, Yaminsky identified that even though numerous hypercasual games stay huge hits for about a month, they swiftly fall off immediately after that. But the downloads do not go to zero. Rather, they fall to perhaps 10% or 20% of the early numbers. And then they remain at that level of probably one hundred,000 downloads a month for a extended time, providing the games a longer life and a more predictable income stream. And with so numerous games in the library and upcoming pipeline, Azur Games has a quite very good enterprise that can sustain the employee base, Yaminsky stated. Stack Ball is the greatest hit, with more than 300 million downloads, even though WormsZome.io has more than 200 million downloads.
But the competitors is not quick. There are rivals like Voodoo Games, SayGames, Rollic, and other folks.
Yaminsky previously worked in the marketing sector, but decided to move into games immediately after a downturn struck in 2014 and 2015.
Yaminsky formally began the game publisher in 2016 in Moscow to publish midcore games, or these with hardcore themes but can be played in brief cycles on mobile devices. The corporation identified a studio that was working on a title referred to as Modern Strike Online, a mobile take on Counter-Strike. And they helped them with the launch with advertising and marketing at initial.
That game became a enormous hit with more than 70 million downloads, and Azur Games acquired half of the development studio.
“It was very successful. And with the launch of the game, I decided to work on other games. And so after the company started as a mobile publisher, and then we started our own development,” he stated.
In 2017, hypercasual games — which take probably a minute to play — began taking off, thanks to new game organizations like Voodoo Games. He moved the headquarters to Cyprus.
“We didn’t really know how to approach user acquisition for the new market at the time, so we decided to fund and conduct an experiment — two people from the team made a hypercasual game that became a hit,” Yaminsky stated. “It turned out that two or three people can create a project with better metrics than a team of 60 in the midcore segment. That was our pivot.”
In the initial experiment, one particular person worked on programming and one more on art. It took about a month to finish the game. On its initial day, the game generated $1,000 in marketing income. On the second day, it was $2,000.
“Then we started acquiring users,” he stated. “Back then it was just so easy. There were so few competitors. A lot of people said it was impossible. I said it was my money. Let me waste it. In fact, the first game I launched was a real success.”
Growing the enterprise
Some organizations began churning out games like factories. It was comparatively quick to develop in hypercasual at that time considering that the marketplace was modest and the developers have been really enthusiastic about presenting their games.
That’s when we knew we necessary to stand out from the other publishers and attempted to see the teams for their prospective, refine the prototypes, and accumulate experience inside the corporation,” Yaminsky stated. “This was a breath of fresh air for the industry, since most publishers at that time just looked at the first metrics — if they were good, then they took the project, if not, they sent it back to the developer.”
Azur Games began to make an ecosystem that would be comfy for the developers and develop projects inside it. It shared its expertise and actively helped budding studios and solo developers to enter the marketplace. As a outcome, the advertising and marketing budgets grew, the studios discovered to trust Azur Games, and the corporation started attracting a lot of new developers.
While the headquarters is in Cyprus, the group is spread out, with back offices in Dubai and Moscow. Most of the individuals work remotely, which aids the corporation develop swiftly. About 50 individuals work in advertising and marketing and analytics, even though a group of 30 motion designers work on inventive advertisements that assistance the games spread. About 200 individuals work on midcore projects, which can have larger margins.
“We’re trying to pave our own way,” Yaminsky stated. “Many companies on the market are still waiting for finished projects with good metrics. But we at Azur Games believe in teams and improve the projects ourselves.”
While hypercasual games nevertheless supplies most of the downloads, Azur Games has diversified into the casual game and midcore game segments. Those games will commence coming out in the coming months and years.
The hypercasual division consists of quite a few mini-teams, which contain a producer, two or 3 solution assistants, and two or 3 game designers. Each mini-group functions with a restricted quantity of studios.
“We prototype about 200 games a month, and after we test them, we launch about one or two games per month,” Yaminsky stated. “In other words, to get a lot of downloads, you need to do a lot of work, which isn’t always visible from the outside.”
Staying ahead of competitors
Now that hypercasual is a huge marketplace, organizations like Zynga have acquired hypercasual firms like Rollic, and the marketplace is crowded.
“You can win as a company only if you share your expertise with developers more than the others, run tests faster, use your own analytics, and invest your skills and experience in development,” Yaminsky stated. “We put the emphasis on communication and providing the necessary resources: for example, if the team doesn’t have motion designers, game designers or artists, we involve them as needed.”
In other words, the present tactic is to give favorable situations and development infrastructure inside its ecosystem. This suggests that the corporation is prepared to share something that could assistance the developers make the correct selection, trend-tracking information becoming one instance. At the very same time, the corporation by no means reworks the games for the studios and it only suggests the path.
That suggests the corporation has to locate the correct teams to make extended-term, mutually helpful relationships. It has invested more than $10 million in developers to date. Many of the developers are in Eastern Europe, exactly where organizations have discovered to move swiftly and effectively with no operating up higher expenses, Yaminsky stated. There are also a lot of educated programmers in the area.
“First and foremost, we always assess the potential. If it’s there, we’re ready to invest our own efforts and substantial amounts of money,” Yaminsky stated. “For instance, if there’s a studio with annual revenue of up to $5 million, we’re ready to invest up to $10 million for a 20% to 30% stake, even more in some cases. Meanwhile, the studio stays in control of the project, and we only help to grow it in all directions, including marketing.”
By 2019, the marketplace got a lot more competitive, and now it is even more heated. In the month of May, the corporation spent more than $15 million in advertising and marketing. The corporation also tries to give the developers more favorable terms than other folks do, like paying properly for every single prototype. This makes it possible for them to cover development expenses, so they can really feel comfy and attempt more issues than they would in a distinctive setting, Yaminsky stated.
“When it comes to the product strategy, we aim at increasing lifetime value of users and paying more attention to in-app monetization,” he stated. “This means we’re planning to do deeper projects, but we always take the studio resources into account — if the developer doesn’t have a lot of experience, they work on simple mechanics.”
A hit game can get 300,000 to 500,000 downloads a day, but Yaminsky believes that the extended-term matters a lot. In the extended tail for a hit, a game can create $one hundred,000 to $400,000 a month. With 10 to 30 such hits, the extended tail generates a constant income that is in the millions of dollars a month.
Now the corporation is searching for more game studios to invest in to preserve creating more hits.
“The number of competitors keeps growing, and we have to stay competitive,” Yaminsky stated.