Update: MY.GAMES and Google will be hosting an open-door AMA session on January 14th at 14:00 CET. Experts from both companies will take part in the Zoom session in order to answer developer questions and queries, as well as deliver advice and success stories from companies that have benefitted from the acceleration program. To join in, visit the website here.
Original story: In today’s mobile gaming space, sometimes having a good idea just isn’t enough. The sheer saturation of the market and app stores can make it impossible for a game to be noticed, let alone played. However, two companies have joined forces to offer a solution.
Last month, My.Games teamed up with Google to launch a new joint accelerator programme dubbed Game Drive. The new initiative is targeted towards mobile developers, and will see successful studios rewarded with specialist consultation on how to level up their business. The deadline for applications is 22nd January, and interested mobile developers can apply here.
PocketGamer.biz caught up with Ilya Karpinsky, MGVC management director at MY.GAMES, and Google Sales Director Maxim Braverman to discuss the partnership, and learn more how Game Drive can benefit developers.
PocketGamer.biz: First off, can you tell us about Game Drive, what is it and how did it come about?
Ilya Karpinsky, MGVC Management Director, MY.GAMES CSO: The gaming industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world. This is especially true for the mobile segment. Every year more and more developers come to the market, and competition is growing. To succeed, teams need support: not just funding, but in other areas like expertise, infrastructure, data, analytics, and how to work with the biggest platforms.
Within MY.GAMES and MGVC, we have long followed the approach of data exchange inside our studios, free access to the common expertise of our studios, divisions and partners. This also applies to development, marketing, and analytics. Therefore, by becoming a part of MY.GAMES, studios can seriously scale their business.
Google is one of our long-standing partners. Many of our most successful mobile games have launched on Google Play with strong support from the Google team, in terms of ads, features, publishing and so on. We want more teams in the market to have access to such expertise and increase their chances to be successful in the global field.
Maxim Braverman, Director, Sales at Google: We’re really excited to be working with MY.GAMES on this. Through Game Drive, we are hoping to find a handful of game studios to help them scale, develop, and launch worldwide.
How did MY.GAMES come to be involved?
Braverman: Actually, Game Drive was a joint idea as we have been close partners for some time, particularly in Russia. Both Google and MY.GAMES teams have rich expertise in the mobile game industry - we understand developers’ needs and pain points. So we decided to join forces to help promising studios to flourish. And this time we want to reach even more developers across the EMEA region.
Karpinsky: That’s right. We have been working with Google for such a long time as partners. As a publisher with a very diverse portfolio of mobile products of different genres, developed by many studios, we have come a long way with the Google publishing team. We have gained a lot of experience in the mobile games industry, and today we are glad to share this experience with those who need it. We hope to have even more global initiatives launching in the near future.
Why are you launching an accelerator? Why not just invest in developers?
Braverman: We are helping to develop the whole ecosystem, providing game developers across the globe with the best of Google tools and practices, and sharing our knowledge and expertise to help developers make the most of these opportunities.
The accelerator format allows gaming studios to present themselves to a group of seasoned experts from both of our companies and get really valuable feedback and advice on how to grow further and faster.
Karpinsky: MGVC itself has great expertise here, as we invest in and support game developers all the time. It’s what we do! Over the past three years, we’ve processed more than 1,000 applications and closed more than 30 deals. But the Game Drive is a new additional venture for developers across Europe, and will allow us to identify more talent from this region.
Is it enough for developers to have a “great idea”?
Karpinsky: Unfortunately, no. The market today is so competitive, that just a great idea is not enough to get a game made and to make it successful. Of course, it’s really important! But there are many other factors to consider, such as user acquisition, scaling, retention rate, the list goes on.
The situation in the mobile games market is such that there are many talented studios with brilliant ideas and projects, but having a good product is not enough to properly scale it and successfully enter the global market. And not all start-up studios can get support, insights, key product benchmarks to see if they are moving in the right direction. Many investors are willing to invest money, but the uniqueness of MGVC is that we know how to spend it effectively.
Braverman: I would agree. Developing a great game is a demanding and comprehensive process. Creative ideas are what inspires you and what motivates you going forward. But then you have to pay attention to every stage and detail.
This includes careful testing of gameplay mechanics, flow etc., tailoring the game to various markets (e.g. gamers in Japan differ from ones in Europe or the US), providing early access to players and collecting feedback. Finally, team capabilities are super important.
What is the inspiration behind Google’s investment in mobile gaming?
Braverman: Games are a key part of Google Play and our users across the globe simply love paying them: imagine, over 1.4 trillion minutes of games played on our platform every month. Particularly in Russia the industry showed tremendous growth long before the pandemic and this growing trend only strengthened during quarantine.
Karpinsky: We’ve seen the same in MY.GAMES titles, and not just in Russia. Given the widespread accessibility of mobile for gamers worldwide, it’s not surprising that mobile games have been some of our most profitable titles throughout this year, and that we have seen big increases in users and revenue. When lockdown restrictions were at their peak, we saw an increase in in-app spending by 39 per cent worldwide.
More generally, mobile games is an extremely important segment for us, and where we see great potential for growth in the future. We work closely with Google and they have helped us to better understand audiences, consumption habits, etc. We want to share that knowledge with a wide range of developers across the globe.
Do you think the offer of business acceleration and expert assessment will generate interest with mobile developers?
Karpinsky: Absolutely. From our own experience, these can be two of the most valuable things a developer needs to get their idea off the ground. There is also no cost to the developer and it’s open for everyone to apply.
Braverman: Google runs various educational programs for developers and we constantly see that training and funding is important. Professional advice and mentorship sometimes becomes a game changer too. Game Drive offers a lot of unique value to participants - from a tailored 360 degree title review conducted by Google experts to recommendations for product improvement and access to the whole MY.GAMES ecosystem.
Tell us more about the details of Game Drive. Who can take part?
Karpinsky: Any developers who are interested in mobile gaming who have a project that has a product on early access or MVP stage should consider taking part. It does not matter what your background is, or if you’re a solo developer or a team. We want to help ambitious developers with great ideas take the next step to make their projects a hit. This is their chance to gain valuable insight and expertise to see it become a reality. Of course, they will also need to meet the eligibility criteria of being based in Western Europe, Russia and the CIS region, Turkey, Israel, the Middle East, or Africa.
To take part, teams should send their projects here https://mgvc.com/en/gamedrive. Applicants will need:
- A working demo of their project
- A working title for their game
- A designated email address for all correspondence
- A short project overview
- Basic metrics for the game, specified in our template
What kind of games are eligible?
Braverman: As long as the game is for mobile, they can be of any genre, but we are looking for developers who have already passed or are close to the soft launch stage - with great ideas in mind. The whole set of criteria can be found on our website http://mgvc.com/gamedrive.
Will games that are funded through the accelerator be available on Google Play and iOS?
Braverman: We are not setting any limits on this at the moment.
The amount of investment and the publishing terms will be discussed with each studio individually. Funds can be raised for product development and testing, for expanding the team's staff, purchasing any technological solutions, and so on. In terms of size, it can range from several tens of thousands of dollars to millions, directly for the development of the games in question.
In addition, we will also be ready to offer marketing support in the form of funds for paid user acquisition, and sharing our own expertise that we have accumulated over our years in this market. The amount of investment for this support may be even higher.