Gamezebo.com | Interview: Game Insight discusses taking social gaming global
Game Insight may not be a household name just yet, but with 17 social games released across 25 social networks all over the world, it soon will be. The company has its sites set on North America, and has already had several hits on Facebook with games like Mystery Manor and Big Business, with the promising Crime Story soon to follow. It’s also a company that’s run entirely by women, making it unique in the gaming world.
We caught up with Darya Trushkina, Game Insight’sVP of Business Development, to learn more about the company and what we can expect in the future.
Game Insight is not a household name, though with 17 social games under your belt and the number one game on Android (Paradise Island), you should be. Can you share insights about Game Insight? How did you start and how big are you?
Game Insight (GI) has been established in December, 2009 by Alisa Chumachenko, CEO and the Founder of the company. At this moment, GI has 11 development studios, which is almost 300 developers. The headquarters has almost 30 employees, who provide legal, marketing, business development, accounting, and other support to development teams. The company started as small development studio and grew into leading social and mobile gaming development company. There are two key values in GI strategy: production of high quality content only and the significant experience in freemium games monetization. It is fair to say that GI is the best Russia-based company, which knows how to make “free-to-play” game successful.
Many game developers complain about how challenging it is to make money and be successful on Android. What is the secret to your success for Paradise Island on Android?
It is simple: make great game and keep your user interested. High quality content attracts more and more people, who love to play for free and have an option to pay. I believe that freemium games will be taking over social gaming world really soon. Android has larger coverage than iOS globally and this is the key advantage, which makes this segment of the market extremely attractive for mobile developers.
The next game you plan to release for Facebook and Android is Crime Story. Can you tell us about Crime Story and what makes it different from other social games out there?
GI has 17 social titles across 25 social networks globally. At this point, it seems like the market outgrew the “traditional” standard of a social game. We tried to create a little more “hardcore” social game, which would, hopefully, attract “old fashion” gamers to try it. The combination of several genres also makes it different and more visually entertaining for player.
Hidden object games are among the most popular genres for casual download games, but it was absent on Facebook until you released Mystery Manor earlier this year. What made you design to create a hidden object game for Facebook and what key design decisions did you make to make a HOG work as a social game?
GI’s management team lead by Alisa Chumachenko has significant experience in casual download games, so it was obvious that HOG has to be among the company’s titles. It was challenging but also fun to create such unique title as Mystery Manor. If I am correct, there is no other HOG on Facebook now, which could compete with Mystery Manor and that’s because it is difficult to develop something better. Mystery Manor has great art, which is one of the keys of its success as well as new updates/new features/campaigns, which keep a user interested, engaged and gives a feeling of action on daily basis.
Another unique aspect about Game Insight is that your entire management team, including your CEO is all female. What impact do you think that has on your games? Why do you think with so many women playing social games, there are so few women developing games or in management positions?
It is unique :) 5 women who manage almost 300 men — it is perfect match, don’t you think? Seriously, the best impact is based on our experience and our willingness to work hard. GI is “our baby”, which has to grow into great and extremely successful company to bring the best games to the market. I am sure there are quite a few female developers in the industry, the question is how many of them can break into management positions and how many can make a decision to start something from the scratch. Overall, we just love what we do and enjoy doing it — that’s the secret of success.
You have found great success on Android. What do you think are the biggest opportunities for social games in the future? What devices and platforms do you think are not as big opportunities?
I think the evolution of social games is here already. In the market with hundreds of thousands applications it is hard to break into top positions, so it is crucial to create unique titles, with new ideas for a user. I am sure that Android, Google+ (hopefully it will open its API soon), HTML 5 have great potential for small developers, who find it tough to compete with giants in the market. iOS will probably remain one of the most attractive revenue streams for developers as well, but it becomes more difficult to compete there every day. As I said before, freemium games are the future so Android and HTML5 would be my choice of the markets to go to.
You are a Russian games company but you release games around the world. Can you share with us your insights about the Russian games market? How is the Russian market different from the North American games market?
Russian market is very different from global market: audience, favorite genres, monetization, platforms policies, etc. In my opinion, Facebook in Russia will become next big thing because this is the only platform which knows how “to be social” and how to engage users into online social activities, including gaming. Russia has many gifted and talented game developers, who are eager to try everything new, but there is a lack of professionals, who are able to bring those games into the market and make it a “hot game.” I would definitely recommend outside of Russia developers to explore Russian market and bring their product here, but first — adjust your game to Russian mentality, culture and wait a little for Facebook to grow into #1 social platform locally.
You plan to release a new social game each month this year. Can you give us a sneak peak of what games (aside from Crime Story) you plan to release in the future?
Yes, we release at least one social and/or mobile title every month, which helps us to keep up and be several steps ahead in growing market. At this moment we are working on several games, which are combination of several genres. There is a space game, detective story, hidden object game, and some other games, which will be completely different from everything we have in our portfolio at the moment.
What do you think about HTML 5.0 games? When do you think it will reach a critical mass, if ever?
I believe in success of HTML 5 and I think it is more “long term” opportunity for the developers. As for now, iOS, Android and Facebook are the most interesting segments of the market for developers. However, with market growing so fast, it is possible that HTML 5 will become next “hot thing” in gaming.
Any final words for fans of your games?
Thank you for being loyal players, for your feedback and insights! GI is working hard to create the best product for you and we are grateful for such amazing audience! There are more great games coming soon — so keep your eye open and please feel free to share your thoughts!