It all began in 2014 at Stanford. During the course LCOR, which drove several heads of Wargaming (and then I did a global operating company), told us about the organizations-Ambidextrous (ambidextrous organizations) — companies that are successfully holding a position in already occupied their niches and at the same time efficiently expand its scope of activities, exploring new areas. However, innovation for the organization as a rule, is engaged in relatively independent structure with its own strategy, culture, management and processes. The concept seemed very interesting to me.
At the moment the most promising (and most understandable) inside Wargaming was mobile direction. World of Tanks Blitz has just launched. The project gave a good, but unusual for a mobile product numbers (for example, session length and the percentage paying significantly above the average for the mobile industry, but the volume of the audience not caught up with “Tanks” for PC). Actually, the game was and still is a rare feature for mobile product.
Take a look at the top 10 mobile gaming — nothing even remotely resembling Blitz. I wanted to understand and to understand how to make a mobile game, which this top came. Another impetus to the decision to try themselves in the field of mobile games was a trip to Finland in the offices of Supercell and Rovio and communication with key people of these companies. The attractiveness of the concept of Supercell is that they are relatively small teams (15-20 developers on the project) is able to make games that bring a million or two a day.
Comparing Belarus and Finland, you come to the exit that we have all the preconditions for the emergence of its own analogue Supercell. The population of Belarus is three times more than in Finland. The labour market and the business ethic we are not worse than the Finns. That is, by external signs, we are not much different from the Finns, but we dont have games and companies that have achieved the same success.
In General, the idea of a small company — developer of mobile games, consisting of multiple high-performance project teams, which at least will be able to expand the audience for Wargaming by attracting female and youth audience, and as a maximum — will make a game that gets into the top 10. The manual Wargaming supported the idea, and we signed a partnership agreement with the Belarusian company Melsoft (last — Melesta Games). At the beginning of 2015 was published from Melsoft 30 games in mobile stores (though absolutely different and in most premium). It is obvious that to support all this variety, it was occupation ineffective (the more money it has brought less and less every day).
During the first month, we Silaeva Alexander and Alexey Meleshkevich (“bridge”) sorted the projects according to profitability, has conducted a number of internal grindylow, analyzed the figures for the game in soft-launch. Games, generate income below a certain level, shut down immediately. They diverted part of the audience that could set the game better.
In the end, in the stores was only a line of Toy Defense (for a total of 15 million downloads), three projects which have been implemented quite efficiently in technical terms and good monetizirovat. Among them were Toy Defense 2 — the most intuitive as the style (WWII) Wargaming audience. So I decided to try to make remastering and restart the product. Analyzed session of the player, looked, in what modes play less, stop what you pay for, which are not reached and so on.
Invented should be like the lobby and main interfaces. First of all, we wanted the old audience back and played, was what used to be unclaimed, strange and so on. Tower Defense is a difficult genre in terms of monetization. To sell button “complete a level” in such projects tantamount to deprive a person of the game.
Lost all fun from solving challenging puzzles. Therefore, the monetization we have improved, increasing the understandability of the gameplay and interfaces. Due to our improvements, the average time a gaming session increased two times. Besides, we managed to attract new audiences in countries with a high average check, where even a few thousand new installations per week is a good boost to income.
In addition to the series, Toy Defense we have in 2015 has released two new games that are running in soft-launch. The first project is a mobile MOBA. Well played, was found a number of original management decision, but retensin seventh day was weak (below 10%), and technical (client-server), it did not reach our expectations for a “fair” PvP. Problems common to most MOBA (leavers, pings, lags and so on), were resolved by the team to sixty percent. That is 30-40 percent and I had to finish, and not the fact that it would turn out.
Decided not to risk it. The second project — time-Manager-for-girls — passed the internal green light and turned into a “coffee Shop”. The transition from premium games to casual free-to-play is not easy to implement.
When you make a premium game, it is desirable to make it end. The user will pay a certain amount, and get everything you need for a comfortable game, held it for a few weeks and will be ready to buy the next game the same developer. The first version of “Coffee shop” was actually a premium reworked the game, which started giving away players for free. Therefore, experiments with free-to-play-monetization began with “crackdown” and giving paywall at various stages of flow establishments, and so on.
The number of payments increased (piles also), but soon stared at the ceiling. Then again, we almost completely redid the monetization of the game, as well as updated graphics, characters, narrative. The share of paying users grew, retensin remained quite high. We realized that we are moving in the right direction, and continued to work.
Socialization helps players to monetize. In one of the recent updates to the game added a city with coffee houses of other players. In “tank” terms, the project received a basic clan system, and the ability to compete between them.
“A coffee shop” did well during the soft-launch and will be released soon in global release. The total number of downloads has exceeded 700 thousand. Retensin project (1-7-30 days) above “the average temperature 40-20-10% in the hospital” and is about 60-40-30%. The percentage paying in CIS on Android exceeded 3-4%, which is good for the platform (on iOS above). The percentage of conversion from the landing page in the store for downloading in some countries reaches 40%, a high figure for an industry where good is considered to be 15%).
These figures — not a miracle but the result of our specialists work to promote product. We were able to turn to advantage one of the drawbacks of the Studio. Having support of as many games in the mobile stores (in 2015 there were more than 30), our marketing has developed a rich expertise in ASO. And now they are using it in full force only on multiple projects.
The marketing regularly conducts A/B tests images and icons, a lot of attention to landing pages. According to the texts, we additionally cooperate with the Agency, which ASO helps you conduct tests and improve the descriptions. That is, we want to ensure that a user in any country could read and understand what the game looked at the pictures, downloaded, installed, and it hasnt any dissonance between the description and the product. The high-level strategy, which we have formulated for yourself in Melsoft, was very basic — we want a small highly skilled teams to make cool mobile games.
The first step to do was quite simple — to filter out all the unnecessary and to focus on the desired. The second step is the formation of a new product strategy. First, a lot of experimenting.
In the first eight months of 2015 team supramaterial, passed through greenlite and froze about a dozen projects. At some point I realized that enough, selected the best ideas, agreed on terms and launched preproduction. Girls like to direct resources. Men compete with each other.
Melsoft product strategy is based on the psychology of the player. Time managers with a narrative popular among the female audience, and games for men must necessarily be based on PvP confrontation. We try to make those games that play themselves. For example, in the command “Coffee shops” lead programmer, game designer, Manager of localizations and testers — girls.
Hierarchy is not about Melsoft. The company is extremely flat organizational structure with no middle management. There are “bridge” — three people, four product teams (about fifty people), administration and marketing (for 8-9 people) that also operate on the principle of project teams. We try not to grow numerically. We have a principle of one in, one out — if you receive more qualified, with the “left behind” we are, as a rule, leave.
Melsoft today is a team that is already pretty good, but the bar should be raised even higher. Until the beginning of 2015, the company solved the problem of survival and, consequently, about the inner workings, the culture did not really thought. When you survive, is willing to compromise on quality, because we quickly run out of money.
When we came to Melsoft, our first priority was to change the culture, to raise the bar — to start to produce projects that bring pleasure to the players, and therefore, earn more money and improve the atmosphere within the team, leading to better results. Now we have a lot of attention to those who like to communicate and how the exchange of information and expertise. Had weekly and monthly meetings (all hands), the team rejoices together new people and little victories. Created Guild game designers, art Directors and so on.
A couple of years ago I really thought that should come to a Studio with a small experienced team, to build there the right processes — and the mouse will immediately become hedgehogs”, we will roll in the right direction. But no, it does not happen. More precisely, happens, but not as fast as I would like.
Before Flappy Bird was a few hundred other “fappiano”, which failed to show the same result. Now we are working to reduce the tolerance to a high enough quality in each of a. Only when the specialists of the company will change the internal feeling of quality, we seek opportunities to make a hit for the top 10. So now we invest extensively in internal training.
In principle, everyone in the company feels the difference between what it was a year ago and where we are now. The team begins to feel at the forefront of the industry. In mobile marketing and Analytics already use the most modern technologies and started to show positive results. Older, experienced professionals who at some point left the company, including for financial reasons, are now returning, because they see. Were on the upswing, and have the opportunity to come in and fit in quite a positive story.
In the past I have repeatedly said that without the success of Wargaming, Melsoft would fall into one of the most known developers of the country. We are now moving to become one of the top global mobile gaming companies, which can rightfully be proud of our compatriots, and players around the world will know what it means to Made in Belarus.
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