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Andrey Kalugin of Xsolla on the most common mistakes in the gaming industry

Ahead of his talk at Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan, we hear from Xsolla's MENA Regional Director about building relationships with players for better retention and engagement
Andrey Kalugin of Xsolla on the most common mistakes in the gaming industry

The next installment of Pocket Gamer Connects, our global series of live industry events, takes place in just over a week in Jordan. Before we get there, let us introduce you to some of the speakers who will be joining us by the Dead Sea for two days of networking.

Andrey Kalugin is the MENA Regional Director at Xsolla, specializing in helping game developers fund, distribute, market and monetize their games. Andrey has nearly two decades of rich product marketing and business development experience in the computer software and hardware industry, both within the consumer and commercial space having previously worked for Microsoft Russia for 17 years where he managed Xbox Business, Windows OS, and Windows Device Divisions.

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PocketGamer.biz: Please give us a summary of what you’re speaking about and why it’s important

'Video Game Distribution and monetization: How to connect directly with your players' is a presentation which shows developers a 360 degree overview of game distribution and monetization across all platforms, devices, and geographies. I will speak about how to accelerate video games growth by enabling stronger, direct relationships with players, expand mobile games monetization and distribute games worldwide.

What’s the most common mistake you see being made in the games sector?

There are a couple of common mistakes that I see companies make. The first is not spending enough attention and time on a tremendous go-to-market strategy. The second is under-investing in preparing to support a game post-launch.

Go-to-Market: It’s always amazed me how much time companies spend developing a game, only to leave developing their go-to-market strategy until the last few months before release. This rarely goes well and increases costs. Companies should be thinking about and investing resources into developing a solid go-to-market strategy nearly as long as they spend creating the game. This includes spending significant time building up a community of players interested in the game before launch, spending time with influencers to incorporate their needs into the development pipeline, and finding the right messaging for specific market segments.

Preparing for Post-Launch Support: Most companies spend little to no time thinking about how they will support a successful game post-launch. They may have some high-level ideas, but rarely do they spend development time building backend systems that allow for the development and deployment of content rapidly post-launch or the ability to a/b test content to follow what the community wants quickly. Companies must also pay more attention to how quickly players will burn through launch content. Games should have at least 3-6 months of post-launch content before launching the game. This golden period post-launch is when companies must 100% deliver on the deliverables they promise to players. By pre-development content, companies can have on their promises and generate vast amounts of goodwill with their players, leading to more extended engagement and better word of mouth. This will prevent players from churning quickly, leading to a rapidly declining player base. 

If you could give other mobile games companies one piece of advice, what would it be?

For mobile game companies specifically, I’d recommend thinking about how they can develop direct relationships with their players through forums, events, and a strong web presence. This will allow them to build a loyal following and retain players better than if they rely on traditional mobile acquisition methods, which are becoming increasingly costly and inefficient.

Where are the next big opportunities in the mobile games market?

The mobile game market has matured over the past few years. The following significant opportunities for companies in this space are to learn from their PC cousins and develop direct-to-consumer strategies that open new markets and help spread the risk of the business across new platforms.

What’s the most important key performance indicator (KPI) for you - and why?

The most important KPI for me is partner satisfaction. The gaming business is quite a small world where everybody knows each other. This is about how we can be recommended, the readiness of a partner to integrate our additional services, and the trust to reach out to new geographies with us. And this is about mutual trust where we can exchange insights, learn from partners, and have the opportunity of life-long learning to develop our solutions. That’s why partner satisfaction is my core KPI.

What is your biggest aspiration/goal in mobile gaming?

My biggest aspiration in mobile gaming is to see a day when mobile games can harness the full power of direct relationships with their players like any PC or Web game. Knowing who your players are and being able to talk directly to them will lead to much higher engagement and satisfaction for all.