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Azur Video games is a kind of corporations that has quietly turn into one of many prime ten recreation publishers on the planet with greater than 1.5 billion downloads. It did so by pivoting into the rising hypercasual video games on cellular gadgets.

Now the corporate has greater than 300 workers in Cyprus and Japanese Europe, mentioned Dmitry Yaminsky, CEO of Azur Video games, in an interview with GamesBeat. And within the first quarter, Azur’s Stack Ball and Hit Grasp 3D video games have been among the many top-20 most downloaded video games worldwide, in keeping with measurement agency Sensor Tower.

Throughout this profitable run, Yaminsky discovered that whereas many hypercasual video games stay huge hits for a couple of month, they rapidly fall off after that. However the downloads don’t go to zero. Somewhat, they fall to possibly 10% or 20% of the early numbers. After which they keep at that stage of maybe 100,000 downloads a month for a very long time, giving the video games an extended life and a extra predictable income stream. And with so many video games within the library and upcoming pipeline, Azur Video games has a reasonably good enterprise that may maintain the worker base, Yaminsky mentioned. Stack Ball is the most important hit, with greater than 300 million downloads, whereas WormsZome.io has greater than 200 million downloads.

However the competitors isn’t simple. There are rivals like Voodoo Video games, SayGames, Rollic, and others.

Origins

Above: Trendy Strike was the primary hit by Azur Video games.

Picture Credit score: Azur Video games

Yaminsky beforehand labored within the promoting business, however determined to maneuver into video games after a downturn struck in 2014 and 2015.

Yaminsky formally began the sport writer in 2016 in Moscow to publish midcore video games, or these with hardcore themes however will be performed briefly cycles on cellular gadgets. The corporate discovered a studio that was engaged on a title referred to as Trendy Strike On-line, a cellular tackle Counter-Strike. They usually helped them with the launch with advertising at first.

That recreation grew to become an enormous hit with greater than 70 million downloads, and Azur Video games acquired half of the event studio.

“It was very profitable. And with the launch of the sport, I made a decision to work on different video games. And so after the corporate began as a cellular writer, after which we began our personal improvement,” he mentioned.

In 2017, hypercasual video games — which take maybe a minute to play — began taking off, because of new recreation corporations like Voodoo Video games. He moved the headquarters to Cyprus.

“We didn’t actually know easy methods to method person acquisition for the brand new market on the time, so we determined to fund and conduct an experiment — two folks from the crew made a hypercasual recreation that grew to become successful,” Yaminsky mentioned. “It turned out that two or three folks can create a undertaking with higher metrics than a crew of 60 within the midcore phase. That was our pivot.”

Within the first experiment, one particular person labored on programming and one other on artwork. It took a couple of month to complete the sport. On its first day, the sport generated $1,000 in promoting income. On the second day, it was $2,000.

“Then we began buying customers,” he mentioned. “Again then it was simply really easy. There have been so few opponents. Lots of people mentioned it was unimaginable. I mentioned it was my cash. Let me waste it. In reality, the primary recreation I launched was an actual success.”

Rising the enterprise

Azur Games' employees in Cyprus.

Above: A few of Azur Video games’ workers in Cyprus.

Picture Credit score: Azur Video games

Some corporations began churning out video games like factories. It was comparatively simple to develop in hypercasual at the moment for the reason that market was small and the builders have been very passionate about presenting their video games.

That’s after we knew we wanted to face out from the opposite publishers and tried to see the groups for his or her potential, refine the prototypes, and accumulate experience throughout the firm,” Yaminsky mentioned. “This was a breath of contemporary air for the business, since most publishers at the moment simply regarded on the first metrics — in the event that they have been good, then they took the undertaking, if not, they despatched it again to the developer.”

Azur Video games began to construct an ecosystem that might be comfy for the builders and develop tasks inside it. It shared its expertise and actively helped budding studios and solo builders to enter the market. Consequently, the advertising budgets grew, the studios discovered to belief Azur Video games, and the corporate started attracting loads of new builders.

Whereas the headquarters is in Cyprus, the crew is unfold out, with again places of work in Dubai and Moscow. The general public work remotely, which helps the corporate develop rapidly. About 50 folks work in advertising and analytics, whereas a crew of 30 movement designers work on inventive advertisements that assist the video games unfold. About 200 folks work on midcore tasks, which may have greater margins.

Above: Azur Video games has plenty of hypercasual titles.

Picture Credit score: Azur Video games

“We’re attempting to pave our personal approach,” Yaminsky mentioned. “Many corporations in the marketplace are nonetheless ready for completed tasks with good metrics. However we at Azur Video games imagine in groups and enhance the tasks ourselves.”

Whereas hypercasual video games nonetheless gives a lot of the downloads, Azur Video games has diversified into the informal recreation and midcore recreation segments. These video games will begin popping out within the coming months and years.

The hypercasual division consists of a number of mini-teams, which embody a producer, two or three product assistants, and two or three recreation designers. Every mini-team works with a restricted variety of studios.

“We prototype about 200 video games a month, and after we check them, we launch about one or two video games monthly,” Yaminsky mentioned. “In different phrases, to get loads of downloads, it’s essential do loads of work, which isn’t at all times seen from the surface.”

Staying forward of opponents

Worm

Above: WormZome.io is considered one of Azur’s video games.

Picture Credit score: Azur Video games

Now that hypercasual is an enormous market, corporations like Zynga have acquired hypercasual companies like Rollic, and the market is crowded.

“You may win as an organization provided that you share your experience with builders greater than the others, run assessments quicker, use your personal analytics, and make investments your expertise and expertise in improvement,” Yaminsky mentioned. “We put the emphasis on communication and offering the mandatory assets: for instance, if the crew doesn’t have movement designers, recreation designers or artists, we contain them as wanted.”

In different phrases, the present technique is to supply favorable situations and improvement infrastructure inside its ecosystem. Which means the corporate is prepared to share something that might assist the builders make the suitable determination, trend-tracking information being one instance. On the similar time, the corporate by no means reworks the video games for the studios and it solely suggests the path.

Which means the corporate has to search out the suitable groups to construct long-term, mutually helpful relationships. It has invested greater than $10 million in builders thus far. Most of the builders are in Japanese Europe, the place corporations have discovered to maneuver rapidly and effectively with out operating up excessive prices, Yaminsky mentioned. There are additionally loads of educated programmers within the area.

“At first, we at all times assess the potential. If it’s there, we’re prepared to take a position our personal efforts and substantial quantities of cash,” Yaminsky mentioned. “As an illustration, if there’s a studio with annual income of as much as $5 million, we’re prepared to take a position as much as $10 million for a 20% to 30% stake, much more in some instances. In the meantime, the studio stays in command of the undertaking, and we solely assist to develop it in all instructions, together with advertising.”

Above: Azur Video games prototypes 200 video games a month.

Picture Credit score: Azur Video games

By 2019, the market acquired much more aggressive, and now it’s much more heated. Within the month of Might, the corporate spent greater than $15 million in advertising. The corporate additionally tries to supply the builders extra favorable phrases than others do, like paying properly for every prototype. This permits them to cowl improvement prices, to allow them to really feel comfy and take a look at extra issues than they’d in a unique setting, Yaminsky mentioned.

“Relating to the product technique, we intention at rising lifetime worth of customers and paying extra consideration to in-app monetization,” he mentioned. “This implies we’re planning on doing deeper tasks, however we at all times take the studio assets under consideration — if the developer doesn’t have loads of expertise, they work on easy mechanics.”

A success recreation can get 300,000 to 500,000 downloads a day, however Yaminsky believes that the long-term issues rather a lot. Within the lengthy tail for successful, a recreation can generate $100,000 to $400,000 a month. With 10 to 30 such hits, the lengthy tail generates a constant income that’s within the hundreds of thousands of {dollars} a month.

Now the corporate is searching for extra recreation studios to spend money on to maintain producing extra hits.

“The variety of opponents retains rising, and we’ve got to remain aggressive,” Yaminsky mentioned.

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