The gaming industry has come a long way from being a niche novelty to an industry that's bigger than movies and music combined. Not only does gaming now captivate global audiences, but it also continues to be the premier creative space that people aspire to work in.
And while console and PC gaming built the industry and hold the limelight, it's mobile gaming that's reaching new audiences all over the world while supplying more than half of the industry's revenue. But how can these platforms work together and what can they learn from each other?
We chatted with Vladimir Krasilnikov, chief product officer at Pixonic who tells us about bringing the popular decade old War Robots mobile franchise to PC and the differences between developing for console, mobile and PC, and what role cross platform gaming might play in the future.
PocketGamer.biz: Firstly how did you get started in the gaming industry?
Vladimir Krasilnikov: My career in game dev started in 2011 when I joined ITT (now a MY.GAMES in-house team) on a no-longer-existing browser-based football manager game. My next big step happened in 2015 when I first started working on the mobile version of War Robots as a meta-game designer at Pixonic studio as part of an in-house MY.GAMES team.
The game had just launched a year before I joined, so it was pretty much unknown at the time. Over the years, this game developed from a small niche project to a long-term hit with its own universe, and I’m glad that I had a chance to be a part of that. For the last two and a half years, I’ve been leading War Robots: Frontiers development for PC and consoles. This is my most ambitious project to date, and I hope, of course, that the best is yet to come.
I think that cross-platform play will become a standard in multiplayer gaming. In general I see games become less dependent on platforms over time.Vladimir Krasilnikov
What would you say is the biggest change you have seen in the industry?
The biggest change I’ve seen is the emergence and evolution of mobile games. It all started with simple and elegant time-spenders like Fruit Ninja, Triple Town, Asphalt, Subway Surfers, Clash of Clans, and Candy Crush Saga. We all were so enthusiastic about this whole new market involving millions of people who had not been involved in gaming before.
Over the years, this market matured, going through the dominance of casual games to midcore expansion, the birth of battle royales, the hyper-casual phenomena, RPGs, battlers, and whatnot. Mobile games now account for about a half of the global games market, making it the fastest and the biggest success story in the whole history of video games.
Where do you see the gaming industry heading in the coming years?
Sadly, I haven’t seen much change during the past several years. However, current AI developments make me very optimistic. We might be on the threshold of a new revolution in the development process. Lower production cost could mean two things: the increase of the same quality games made cheaper and the higher quality games made for the same amount of money. While there are concerns that AI could replace game dev specialists, among other jobs, I don’t share these fears. The world’s history has demonstrated that automation can lead to more jobs with fewer routine tasks in the end.
What would you say are the main differences when creating a game for mobile as opposed to that of console or PC?
Oh, there are plenty! The main difference is in the product ideas. Mobile devs usually use the "fail fast" approach, while PC/console dev teams work under the assumption that "There's no second first impression, so make it good". Both approaches are very hard to align with each other.
Also, it's harder to acquire players on the PC/console market than on mobile. That is why PC/console product strategy always takes brand marketing into consideration. And that’s also why you see a lot of mentions of PC/console products at game expos, influencer channels, billboard ads, press coverage. Hype-building for your game pays off on these older gaming platforms. Mobile games use these channels too, but way less.
And the most obvious difference between mobile and PC/consoles development is player behaviour. While PC/console players can easily have long play sessions once or several times a week, on mobile, you want to have short but frequent play sessions several times a day. So everything should be designed as if a player might be distracted by a message from a friend, or an important call at any second on mobile.
What are some mobile games development aspects that you can apply to console/PC and vice versa?
Mobile games rely upon a data-driven approach much more. This allows you to tweak the first game session for a new player up to tiny details – I cannot emphasise enough how important the first impression is. Most mobile games take players by the hand and walk them through their first gameplay session, creating a controlled experience and as far as I can see most of the PC/console titles throw players into the cold water, and say “now swim”.
While I think that limiting players’ agency might bring more harm than good, PC and console developers might benefit from using a more careful approach to a game introduction.
What about cross-platform gaming? What role do you see that having in the future of gaming?
I think that cross-platform play will become a standard in multiplayer gaming. We might see some resistance from several platforms, but in general I see games become less dependent on platforms over time.
What comes next for you over the course of 2023?
We in MY.GAMES are excited by our plans for 2023, and we are eager to launch new products and expand to new markets. In particular, we are looking forward to releasing War Robots on PC later this year. I'm optimistic about that, and I’m working hard to prove that the War Robots franchise is bigger than mobile!