Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital is around the corner, taking place on September 14th - 18th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.
The conference spans across five days and will feature a broad selection of tracks, talks and speakers, as well as various fringe events and a new and improved meeting system. For more details on PGC Helsinki Digital and to book a ticket, head to the website.
In this speaker spotlight, we talked to Yuriy Krasilnikov, VP of Business Development at Belka Games, home to hit games such as Funky Bay and Clockmaker. The studio grew exponentially in the last few years and now has over 300 employees.
“Explosive growth means evolving and changing your business approach. What worked for a team of 30 would no longer work when there are suddenly more than 100 employees. We wanted to grow fast, but add the right people to ensure our business did not die in stagnation.” said Yury Mazanik and Dzmitry Khusainau, co-Founders of Belka Games
Yuriy joined Belka Games during this time of growth to lead M&A and publishing. His background includes project management at Amayasoft where he was promoted to business development manager and six months later to director. He also headed up business development at Moscow-based startup, Trilobite Soft.
Pocketgamer.biz: Tell us a bit about your company?
Yuriy Krasilnikov: People often ask me what Belka means - it means squirrel. Squirrels are cute, move fast, and are extremely resilient. I like to think that those qualities translate to our brand and culture at Belka Games. Our studio was started a decade ago by two friends, Dzmitry Khusainau and Yuriy Mazanik. Since then, the company has grown from 30 to 300 employees, and we thrive in a fun, fast-paced work culture.
Growing the team and strengthening company culture are extremely important to us. We’ve hired talent based on the following foundations:
The growth to 300 employees meant we were constantly shifting to meet the demands of creating high-quality games and our employees. Our co-founder, Yuriy Mazanik, believes in growing quickly, which is why we hired a new CEO, Alexandr Bogdanov, and C-level team.
Alexandr, who was hired in 2017, put an emphasis on continued expansion of the team through building upon the foundation that was established early on. As someone who is responsible for operations and the entire organization, he explains how he navigated through the challenges he faced. His process for hiring, communication, and finding the best leaders is precise.
Alexandr explained, “Finding the best talent means we can add higher quality aspects into our product development. We strive to hire team leads who are experienced to be able to take over the operational projects associated with their teams.
“We embrace an individual approach to each new employee and leaders who can take over all of the processes associated with their teams.
“In a rapidly growing team, our goal is to keep the lines of communication open. This ensures different departments continue to communicate and work cross-functionally to help each other understand who is doing what. It also helps us see the direction we are moving in, at a high-level.”
What does your role entail?
I have this on-going joke with my colleagues that “Miracle Worker” should be an official job title. All jokes aside, I head up business development at Belka.
As VP, I’m involved in many aspects of the internal and external parts of the studio’s business - including giving talks and presentations like my upcoming session PocketGamer Connects Digital Helsinki. I’m extremely honored to do this, by the way!
I also strategically maintain existing partnerships and discover new ways to reach business goals, including publishing and mergers and acquisitions.
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
I wish I had a more exciting answer for this question, but to be quite honest, I sort of fell into it. The games industry wasn’t something I was specifically looking for earlier in my career.
However, after learning what it was all about, I really liked it. The people are fantastic and I get to work on cool games that impact the daily routine and lives of millions around the world.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the space?
The best advice I can give is just to start. Now is a great time, especially since we have a ton of information at our fingertips as well as many sources of inspiration.
Get inspired by doing some online research and find out what gets you excited. Read articles, enroll in special courses, play games from talented game designers, and browse illustrations from skilled artists.
How has the games industry changed since you first started?
The industry has become more “consolidated.” Studio acquisitions and partnerships are a regular part of the business.
I’m thrilled Belka has a partnership with AppLovin - I’m enthusiastic about joining forces to make our mark in the games industry.
What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?
I’ve noticed that overall, games are becoming more high-quality. As technology advances, so does game design. You have amazing animation and high-res illustrations - all accessible on your smartphone.
The challenge is cutting through the competition. It’s become a crowded industry, so the hard part is figuring out how to get your high-quality game into the hands of players and break through the other millions of games out there.
What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?
I think developers will continue to make great products through strategic partnerships and mergers and acquisitions. I think the gamers around the world will be delighted at what’s to come!
Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?
I’m most anticipating the sessions around global trends and industry vision values.
But above all, I’m looking forward to connecting with other professionals in the industry, even if it’s over video. It also gives me a chance to see old friends.
Despite the pandemic, it’s important to keep connections alive, network, and meet new developers from around the world.
Check out the full schedule to see the complete range of impressive speakers attending. You can also check out our other track rundowns and coverage of previous Pocket Gamer Connects conferences ahead of the event itself.
There's still time to register for Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital here.