It is often said that nothing is truly finished and it's a saying the games industry has taken to heart in recent times.
Long gone are the days of developing and publishing a game without the need to tweak, adjust and patch it after launch, with new titles requiring constant operation and updates to keep them at the forefront of consumer thought.
Here at PocketGamer.biz we want to take the opportunity to highlight games that have bucked the trend and found an audience that has kept them thriving long after launch.
PocketGamer.biz: With Elvenar now more than five-years-old, how do you reflect on its performance as a series - from launch to the mature title it is now?
Nino Protic: We started on Elvenar as a browser-only game back in 2015. It was only a year or so after launch that we decided it would be cool to make Elvenar available for an even bigger audience by going mobile. Today we have a fully-fledged product available for the browser platform, as well as iOS, Android, and Amazon.
We started Elvenar with five different chapters where you could play as either an Elf or a Human. Over the course of the last five years we introduced every possible race known in the Fantasy world. I am proud of our team for being able to even step out of the box and create something as unknown as the "Constructs" guest race that we have in the game.
We are very happy to have Elvenar in our portfolio as well as the fantastic community that we have built up over the years.Nino Protic
Just a few months ago we released our 17th chapter, a new guest race where you play Ambassador between Dwarfs and Fairies. With this, we have content for over five years of playtime and are constantly working on something new.
The game recently surpassed the €100 million ($114.4 million) in lifetime revenue achievement, joining other InnoGames titles such as Forge of Empires, Grepolis, and Tribal Wars. We are very happy to have Elvenar in our portfolio as well as the fantastic community that we have built up over the years.
How big is the team currently handling live ops?
Nino Protic: Our team consists of various feature teams: one focused on live events, one focused on adding new content and features to the game, and a mobile-only team that handles the user experience on the platform.
In total, our team consists of around 40 people, including developers, game designers, artists, product managers, and community management.
How important do you consider customer support and updates to be? What has been your approach to this?
Nino Protic: Our community means a lot to us. Starting with Tribal Wars, we were always very close to the community (in both forums but also real life), where we had multiple player meetups within the countries, with large numbers of registered players.
From this, our whole mentality around being there for our community and players has grown, both in making sure that they have a pleasant time in our games by getting the help they need, to involving them in the next features and ideas we have for their favourite games.
Our mission is to make great games for our players, with high-quality virtual worlds that link millions of people around the world anywhere, anytime. In Elvenar, that means every two weeks we release new content and fixes to the gameplay - even on mobile, where this practice is not too common.
What steps have you taken to ensure that Elvenar maintains a sizeable and active player base all this time after its launch?
Nino Protic: A lot of this effort comes down to continually providing our players with new content. We have big events running every few weeks and smaller ones in between to make sure that the players always have something special that they can participate in when they log on.
Our great marketing team also knows how to attract new players that are interested in this type of game. We never stop developing and updating our best practices. We are constantly on the move to find the right channels and approaches to reach the customers that we want for Elvenar.
This comes with its own challenges in positioning the game on the market in the best possible way, which we rely on the skill and expertise of our marketing and analytics departments.
To what do you attribute Elvenar's consistently impressive grossing performance, and how do you sustain it?
Nino Protic: Like mentioned before, it comes down to good content: the right marketing, constant events and happenings for our players. In the end, it's all about finding the right moment to release a new guest race, new feature, or figuring out what specific day an event should run.
Running events parallel to real-life events has turned out to be very successful, such as the annual springtime Easter event that continues the Phoenix storyline.
One of InnoGames' key strengths from my perspective is the impressive collaboration of game teams and our analytics and marketing departments. The various perspectives help us to understand what players enjoy, what they might need to improve their experience and how we can attract new players to our titles.
Can you tell us how you have approached the game under the current pandemic? Any implementations you have put in place?
Nino Protic: As a company, we transitioned to home offices early on. Every individual has his or her own equipment with them, which the company helped organise to have delivered to the colleagues' homes, in addition to providing a stipend for any additional home office needs.
Achieving five years of consistent growth shows us that we have created a game that we will operate for another 10 plus years.Christian Reshöft
Working from home was already an offered benefit, but this scale with everyone working from home is new to us. However, I am impressed with how well the team is handling it. We are still delivering bi-weekly content updates with everyone contributing and remaining fully committed to achieving our goals.
The only thing that has been somewhat affected is our event roadmap. Some events were supposed to run in parallel to real-life events - like the Olympics - but we worked to identify alternatives that we look forward to sharing with the community in the future.
What would you consider Elvenar's biggest achievement in its five-year lifespan?
Christian Reshöft: This answer lies in the question. Achieving five years of consistent growth shows us that we have created a game that we will operate for another 10 plus years. That is our biggest achievement.
High quality and customer satisfaction are our top priorities. With Elvenar we created an exciting cross-platform experience and our success proves our strategy.
Any KPIs such as downloads, DAU or retention you’re willing to share?
Nino Protic: We don't reveal those specifics, but regular content updates make our titles sticky. Elvenar has many players that have been with us since the beginning.
Together, players have spent over 1.7 billion sessions in-game, accounting for more than 43,186 years' worth of playtime in the fantasy world with over 21.8 million cities built.
What lessons have you learned/are you still learning from Elvenar? Is there anything about the game that, in hindsight, you'd now handle differently?
Nino Protic: The past years have been a valuable learning experience. Upon registration, players can choose between Elves or Humans for their race and follow similar journeys as they build their kingdom. Looking back, it would have been interesting to develop even more distinct paths, with items, quests or plots more tailored to each race.
However, the feedback from our community has been very positive and they enjoy the races and the game as it has been created. Our success has shown that we are on the right path and we look forward to providing new content, including new Guest Races for years to come.
Finally, how has your experience with Elvenar informed where you are/what you're working on now?
Christian Reshöft: The success that we have seen with Elvenar validated for us that we can compete with the best in the simulation/city building genre - particularly when it comes to content-heavy games. This combination will remain a mainstay in our portfolio.
We continue to invest heavily into live operations for these titles and are excited to bring this combination to market with a mobile-first approach in the future.