Russian publisher My.Games has shown more of an interest in the hypercasual games market recently.
Last month, the firm launched a new publishing programme that is aimed at hypercasual developers. It's hardly surprising given the success that many games, developers, and publishers see within the genre.
However, to better understand My.Games' move into hypercausal, we caught up with the head of its hypercasual division Andrei Dubinin to get his insights on the market and what opportunities await developers within.
PocketGamer.biz: How has the hypercasual market changed over the last 12 months?
Andrei Dubinin: Hypercasual has always been a vibrant and hyper-competitive space. Competition in 2020 is even more fierce than into 2019, requiring more innovation from developers and publishers alike.
For developers to succeed, they must build a team that is agile enough to move quickly through ideation, testing, production stages into full operation. Those who can achieve this, and create innovative gameplay, are likely to generate the most value.
What opportunities are there for developers and publishers in hypercasual games?
The hypercasual business model continues to evolve and provide huge opportunities for developer teams. There is a lower barrier to entry compared with other mobile genres; launching new titles is more feasible. With the right publisher partner, developer teams can create and test prototypes within one or two weeks, sometimes less.
To get there, it's essential for these teams to make the most of the support their publisher can offer, from market intelligence to testing. This is especially important when it comes to the discovery phase - if developers do not focus enough on being innovative, they are less likely to succeed in the market. Publishers, in turn, can gain access to a huge potential audience.
Hypercasual games are designed to appeal to the widest possible audience, but they can only succeed with original, accessible gameplay.
How do you think the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has and will affect the hypercasual market?
The pandemic does present challenges for developers, of all kinds. But it's also not uncommon for such situations to boost creativity.
Recently, we have been seeing lots of interesting ideas come to life, which could be the result of more 'free' time at home, or perhaps a sign that developers are looking for ways to communicate with the outside world creatively. Regardless, we're working hard to support our teams to the best of our ability and to make the best use of this time.
Why is My.Games choosing to invest in the genre more now?
We are always on the lookout for the latest trends and opportunities in mobile games, as a company, My.Games is at our best when we are helping developer teams to mature and grow.
Given the current state of the hypercasual market, we have decided to focus on what rings true — empowering game teams and assisting their growth through sharing expertise and resources.
How is your experience in the industry informing your approach to hypercasual at My.Games?
My.Games is a team of over 1,800 developers and 30+ in-house and partner studios. In recent years we have launched and sustained top-grossing free-to-play mobile games, such as 'War Robots' by Pixonic, 'Hustle Castle' by Studio Nord and 'Love Sick' by Swag Masha. Our games have almost half a billion installs worldwide. Studio Nord achieved an internal top-3 revenue-generating milestone within a year of releasing 'Hustle Castle'. Pixonic's 'War Robots' grew 3.5x internationally just a year into their partnership with My.Games.
Many of our mobile games share key common features with the hypercasual model. We are well-versed in using data to develop new ideas, innovative approaches to paid user acquisition and automating the business performance of live products.
We also know how to help small teams grow, and small teams are very prevalent in the hypercasual market. Swag Masha, for example, joined My.Games as a three-man team with a clear vision, but no title. With the backing of My.Games' investment arm, MRGV, the team went on to create 'Love Sick' - a game that has tripled in player installs during Q1 2020, in comparison to Q4 2019.
What can My.Games offer developers that other publishers can't?
It wouldn't be right to pigeon hole My.Games as a typical 'publisher'. Publishing is often associated with making a 'hit game', whereas our goal is to create 'hit game teams'. Over 13 plus years, our in-house teams and partner studios continue to grow, leaning on us for the right kind of help at the right time.
What are you looking for in a game when you're deciding whether to publish it?
We look at the numbers. During each evaluation stage, we rely on shared data and transparent benchmarks. In some cases, it's easy to see how accessible, and original gameplay will have widespread appeal. In other cases, it takes more time, more iterations to hit the right metrics.
The most important thing is that we commit to a common goal with our teams before we start development, and use data to prove that we have arrived where we both want to be.
What's your goal for the hypercasual program over the next 12 months?
Our goal is to create a group of high-performing game teams, each with their own unique features or skills. With this, we aim to create world-class, innovative games – both in the hyper-casual space, and what shape hypercasual takes in the future.