Housing many major developers and small indie studios, Russia is one of fastest growing gaming markets around the globe. Nekki is a leading mobile game developer who has worked on titles like Shadow Fight 2 and Vector, boasting a player base of over 70 million users.
This week I had a brief chat with Sergey Babaev, Director of Business Development at Nekki to talk about qualities which set Nekki apart from other mobile developers and to discuss their forthcoming projects.
With a constantly increasing number of mobile developers, the mobile gaming market is slowly saturating. When asked what sets Nekki apart from other mobile game studios, Babaev stated:
A distinctive feature of Nekki is that we don’t have a big marketing machine. We got millions of our users (it’s close to 100,000,000 considering only the mobile audience) without a direct purchase.
We believe that word-of-mouth advertising still works out well, and if a project has unique stylistics and recognizable mechanics gamers will speak about it to each other.
In order to get such recognition we decided to invest in creating our own animation tool “Cascadeur”, that would allow us to make animation that you can see in “Shadow Fight 2” (without motion capture, etc.).
Unlike many other mobile titles we see out there, Nekki doesn’t rely much on intrusive ads in their games. When asked how the company makes profits out of them, especially without any sort of investors, he said:
We try to stay in the middle – without aggressive monetization and advertising (in our game you can “farm” anything without paywalls). This approach gives us both good income and audience loyalty.
Does this actually work? Yes, considering the fact that the project’s income on its peak was more than $100,000 per day.
We’ve never collaborated with investors – that’s true. It’s not that we have never got any offers – we just don’t have a need for that. We’ve already worked on different markets (and moved from one market to another): it gave us experience and confidence.
A good example is passing from browse games (“11×11”, “Gladiators”) to social ones (“Shadow Fight”), and then to mobile games (“Vector”, “Shadow Fight 2”).
We try to plan our life and control our growth. We had a big success with both of our mobile games, but only this year we decided to expand our company (up to 100 people) in order to release 3 new projects (“Shadow Fight 3”, “Vector 2” и “11×11 Mobile) and invest in 2-3 external projects (one of them is an indie game, a winner of indie festivals in Russian Commonwealth (CIS) – pixel “bullet hell” game “Beat The Beat”.
With the release of Vector on Steam, Nekki is looking forward to bring more of its projects to other platforms:
During these days we plan to launch “Shadow Fight 2” on Windows Store.
And this is not all!
2015 is turning out to be a busy year for Nekki and fans of the studio will be delighted to know that the developer is looking forward to develop for current-gen consoles as well.
Babaev stated that they are working with new game engines which would allow them to port their games including Vector 2 and Shadow Fight 3 to other platforms as well:
Yes, sure. “Shadow Fight 2” will be launched on Windows Store, Mac Store and Android TV. All of our new projects are created on Unity (game engine), that’s why there will be even more platforms involved. For example, we plan to launch “Shadow Fight 3” on Xbox One.
We have set a clear goal to launch three projects on our own: “Shadow Fight 3”, “Vector 2” and “11×11”. To achieve that we hired twice more people (now we have 100 instead of 50), all of our projects are based on Unity now (even “Vector 2”, that previously was based on Marmelade), we’ve formed a server team (mobile games didn’t have strong server support before) and a lot of other important updates. So I’m sure that this year Nekki fans won’t be disappointed.
Lastly, speaking of Russian gaming market trends and the difference between audience in the U.S. and Russia, Babaev stated that mobile still remains the prevalent platform and many major developers are currently working on mobile games which are making it harder for smaller studios to gain success:
I think that we’ll see the development of 2014 trends. There will be even more midcore projects in social networks and mobile stores. Big companies working on mobile market will continue their battle for the first positions in the charts and it will be harder for smaller teams to gain success.
Speaking about the mobile market, users arrived to some kind of international standards. Now I rarely notice those strange games (“Homeless man simulator” was one of the top games on Russian Store charts).
Do you believe Nekki would do well in console/PC market or should they stick to mobile platform? Share your views in the comments below!