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How to win over the indies developers that really matter

Sergey Babaev is looking for partners
How to win over the indies developers that really matter

Sergey Babaev is business development director at Nekki and in charge of its indie program.

Skip the spending, focus on the foundations of your company, and build trust with indie partners that promise success.

That in a nutshell how we at Nekki entered the indie publishing arena a few months ago.

And with the multiple awarded indie game Beat Da Beat from 2Players close to launch and further games such as 12 is better than 6 from Ink Stains Games under preparation, we are about to bring this strategy to fruition.

Let me take you on a short journey what from our point of view about what is key in expanding ones' business through partnerships with indie developers.

It all starts with introspection

Neither big pockets nor competitions and PR appeals will find you a perfectly-fitting indie partner unless you are aware of what you are looking for.

If you offer a ride to just anyone, you will have the opposite effect.

Being devoted to their project the time indie devs have for negotiations is limited - as is ours. Better you only approach those creative people who match your DNA.

Otherwise both parties will be unhappy. And unhappiness can spread really fast within the indie community.

With over 13 years in existence, we took a rollercoaster ride from browser games to social network games to mobile games, which finally brought us in a position to entertain more than 160 million players.

Still our heartbeat is indie and our recipe for success lies in the fact that we build games with unique and recognizable art styles that differentiate Nekki from the competition.


It´s true that our core brands Vector and Shadow Fight 2 spread globally without any marketing spent. Players will promote your game through word-of-mouth if you deliver an exciting gameplay experience.

“Look for indies that match your company's DNA.”
Sergey Babaev

In this respect, we lived up to our company name which stands for Enthusiasm in Japanese.

So prior to setting out on our search of indie partners, we defined what makes us strong. For us it is a combination of determination, dedication and artistry. With this in mind we started our search for partners.

Wanted: The best of both worlds

Since we started our initiative, we've cast our net wide and narrow at the same time. Our requirements regarding platform, game style and availability are as open as possible.

So your game is greenlit on Steam or has already been launched on app stores? That doesn't matter.

Or are you offering a game that doesn't fit into our action-heavy portfolio? You are still welcome.

Even our preference for mobile games does not limit entry. Bring it on!

But - yes - there are two must-haves: it's our artistic vein that caters for games with unique graphics, and secondly we want to partner with business-minded teams.

Art from our own stable: <em>Vector 2</em> incoming this autumn
Art from our own stable: Vector 2 incoming this autumn

That´s quite a combination, more often found with small sized indie-developers than with larger ones.

So what does "business-minded" mean?

“Our requirements are as open as possible.”
Sergey Babaev

It´s not about our partners to knuckle down to endless change requests. Because striking art and gameplay is what brings us together in the first place.

But we require our partners to keep to deadlines and carry the game to release. Anyone who has ever dealt with partner projects knows that this is no easy feat.

From Russia with love - and beyond

So how does it all come together?

In the partnerships we have already built, the sharing of experience is the major factor.

Our partner Denis Vasiliev from 2Players (which are situated in the Ural region) puts it this way:

"The process of taking the product from development to launch - all the structuring, evaluation and optimization of the game - is priceless for us."

This view is confirmed by Anton Grischenko, lead programmer from Ink Stains Games. For him the most important non-financial factor for partnering with us lies in the fact, that "…Nekki has extensive experience in game development and their games have great success."


Whereas art lies within the eye of the beholder, you can sense the willingness to strive for success from the tenacity indie developers show when they approach you.

Often we are asked if there is a difference between indies in the CIS and in the west. As Russia is a large country developers are more dispersed and have somewhat limited options to exchange and pitch.

Thus it´s the mindset that makes the difference. Denis Vasiliev's advice to other indie developers - "Write letters, talk to people, show your game wherever possible." - comes quite natural. They did and we partnered.

Again: To win over the right team with the right game you have to know what makes you great and to look for people that have the willingness to become great.

Hey? Are you an indie developer that read this article to the end?

That's a good start. Why not pitch us via

As a developer and publisher of F2P games, Moscow-headquartered Nekki inspires the emotions of more than 160 million players worldwide.

The company is best known for its mobile smash-hits Shadow Fight 2 and Vector. These already account for more than 100 million players combined across major platforms like iOS, Android, Android TV, Windows Phone, Steam and Amazon.