Nordcurrent's Victoria Trofimova on how Japan is the Lithuanian developer's #2 market

F2P outfit serving 250 million ads per month globally

Nordcurrent's Victoria Trofimova on how Japan is the Lithuanian developer's #2 market
There aren't many game studios in Lithuanian, which means that 30-strong Nordcurrent is a big fish in the small pond of Baltic State developers.

But more than local presence, the company - which has been around since 2002 - is certainly punching its weight on a global scale.

Having built a solid reputation on consoles like DS and PSP, it's now heavily into mobile games, especially in terms of free-to-play content.

We caught up with CEO and co-founder Victoria Trofimova to find out more.

Pocket Gamer: Can you give us some background about how Nordcurrent?

Victoria Trofimova: Nordcurrent was established a few years ago, working as a developer for hire for big console publishers. We then moved to developing and publishing our own games across Europe - games, for DS, Wii, PS2, and PSP.

When the games market for smartphones emerged, we saw this as a great opportunity for a company like us to try something new, to grow and compete on the level playing field.

Why did the freemium model appeal to you?

At the beginning, we developed paid games, but soon realised this was not what this new mobile gaming was about.

The new freemium model offers space to try new concepts and experiment with gameplay. We are trying to use this opportunity and try new ideas ourselves in terms of game structure, gameplay and monetisation. I think there is still a lot to explore and invent for freemium games.

Your 101-in-1 games have been very popular. What's the current download total and why do you think the brand is so strong?

We now have over 14 million downloads on iOS and Android.

101-in-1 has been so successful because it appeals to a wide variety of players, everyone can find a game they like in the 101 games available.

But more importantly I think the games are accessible, easy, and fun. The concept is that there are many games, each takes only a few minutes to play, but there is a huge variety of them to play.

You're particularly strong on Android. What you do like about the platform?

We are doing as well on Android as we are on iOS. And we like both platforms.

Without getting into technological differences, iOS charts are very fast moving, while Android offers a better opportunity for steady growth and overall increase in the audience.

What's your view on Amazon/Kindle Fire as a platform?

We are doing really well on the platform. We have had over 700,000 downloads so far on Kindle Fire.

Amazon's also recently introduced in-app purchases, which will make it easier to monetise.

What's your strategy in terms of IAP and in-game ads?

We offer IAP in our games, usually we sell in-game currency. But sometimes, we offer special content that player can buy only for a limited period of time. We are now experimenting with different offers and sales to stimulate purchases from players.

We also monetise by showing ads in our games, usually regular banner ads. In March, we showed over 250 million ad impressions, so this is also a significant monetisation stream for us.

You do a lot of work in terms of localisation. Why do you think this is so important?

This comes from experience, because we are a European publisher. In Europe, it is standard to release a game in five languages (EFIGS). If you are dealing with local markets, it is very important to have localised product.

We also realised there are markets outside of Europe that would benefit from localisation, so we added Japanese, Russian, and Chinese and we continue adding more. As the result, Japan is now our second largest market after USA.

What's it like being a game developer in Lithuania?

It is much colder than in California, our winters are quite long. But on a more serious note - we are among only a few employers that offer jobs in the creative sector, so we receive a lot of local interest, which is a big plus.

And Vilnius (the capital) is beautiful old European city, full of history and we have beautiful Baltic Sea beaches within a few hours drive.

Can you talk about any future releases?

We have recently released Gamebanjo which consists of a few games, but each game is much deeper [than 101-in-1] and players can spend months playing just one of the games.

The most popular so far are tower defence and resource management.

This year we are also planning to release two more new titles, but I cannot talk about them right now. We are also planning to release HD versions of the existing games, designed especially for iPad and Android tablets.

Thanks to Victoria for her time.
You can find out more about Nordcurrent via its website.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.