MAY 22, 2012 • There are plenty of charming stories to be found amongst the growing number of social and mobile game start-ups, and Game Insight is one of the more compelling tales. Four friends, all women in the Russian gaming industry, half-jokingly pondered during a casual conversation how well they could do if they started their own company together. And maybe not so surprisingly the group decided to act on that impulse.
In only two years the company grew into a promising social and mobile game powerhouse with more than 300 employees. On the occasion of Game Insight setting up its first international office in San Francisco, DFC Intelligence recently sat with Darya Trushkina, vice president of Business Development for an interview.
DFC: Please tell us a little bit about your company and game titles.
Darya: Game Insight was founded in Moscow on December 2009 originally as a holding company, but quickly transitioned to a full focus on publishing once Alisa (CEO and co-founder) and the team discovered the many talented development teams that Game Insight now works with. Since then, our mission has always been to take high-quality mobile and social game products developed by passionate people who love games, and bring them to market.
Now Game Insight has become one of the leading social and mobile gaming studios not only in Russia but also in worldwide. We create freemium-based quality games for Android, iOS, social networks and HTML5. Game Insight’s hit games such as Paradise Island, Enchanted Realm, My Country and Mystery Manor have attracted more than 50 million MAUs (Monthly Active User) in 140 countries.
DFC: So how many games have you published so far?
Darya: Game Insight’s portfolio includes work from 17 studios. To date, we published more than 24 social games and 58 mobile games based on 27 unique game titles. On social titles, Game Insight’s MAUs have more than doubled since 2010 from about 10 million to 29 million in 2012. We plan to launch more than 50 mobile titles by the end of 2012. We started with a focus on social games but now it shifted to mobile games.
DFC: Among those 27 games, what are the most successful titles?
Darya: Paradise Island is probably the one of most well-known franchises and we ported it to multiple platforms such as Facebook, iOS, and Android. But Mystery Manor is doing great as we introduced it on iPad. As you know, tablet devices usually have higher monetization potential than other mobile devices or PC. My Country has shown a great success in Asia as well.
DFC: How did you get on so many networks (Game Insight operates on 25 different social networking and mobile platforms in 15 languages globally) in only three years in business, and how does each version differ from others?
Darya: Our development teams work closely with the publishing partners and localized our games whenever launching in a new country or region or language. We try very hard to deliver quality contents. And we found certain games are more appealing to certain countries. For example, while Crime Story is more popular in CIS, My Country is very popular in Asia, in particular in Japan and Korea. The art style is more familiar with the audience. We partnered with SK Planet to launch the game on a local AppStore called T store last December and it ranked as the No. 1 free game in Korea.
DFC: What other regions or countries play an important role in terms of revenue?
Darya: For now, it’s definitely United States. That’s why we set up an office in San Francisco. It will work as our publishing arm to work with third parties as well as in-house studios. But we see great potential coming from Asia, which will easily outgrow U.S. in the near future. We are currently in the process of possibly establishing another office in Korea to better capture the market.
DFC: What can you tell us about the lifespan for your products? How does it vary by type of product or platform?
Darya: Our games tend to have a longer lifespan compared to other games. Usually after two or three months, MAU goes down in most cases but not our games. For example, Paradise Island hasn’t reached its peak since its launch on December 2010. We constantly introduced new content to keep our users happy.
DFC: Your games are based on freemium. Are there any other revenue sources?
Darya: No, that’s the only source. We don’t want in-game ads or anything likely to interfere with gameplay. We want the best experience for our users. That choice actually paid off for us. Our gross revenue has exploded from $3.5 million in 2010 and we are expecting somewhere near $135 million this year.
DFC: Game Insight works across every platform from iOS to Android and even to HTML5. Which platform is the most profitable?
Darya: Despite its fragmentation, Android is proven to be more profitable and we have high hopes for it. iOS devices are normally more expensive than their peers so it is true that there is more room for big spenders.
But overall Android is growing very fast but in retrospect we were right about our strategic decision to get into the Android market earlier than other competitors back in the early days.
DFC: Let’s switch gears and talk about your company. Game Insight owns a majority stake in 15 game studios and most of your studios are located in the CIS; Russia, Byelorussia, and Ukraine. What are the main criteria when you look for a studio?
Darya: We acted as an incubator so it wasn’t like we went out shopping for a game studio. If there are talented people who are making a great game, we work with them. Of course, we are ready to work with studios outside the CIS. We never meant to go after the regional market only. As a matter of fact, we started screening third-party developers to publish games on our open platform.
DFC: So how’s it going so far?
Darya: Our team has been vigorously evaluating top-notch games submitted to the process. We plan to launch them this summer. But that doesn’t mean we will plunge all our resources into publishing. Our core business will stay true to game development. Developing a great quality game is always our top priority.
DFC: What are your goals for 2012?
Darya: More than anything, to deliver great games to our loyal users worldwide. The Tribez just debuted on iPad on April 3 and we have Rule the Kingdom in pipeline along with other games. Then in terms of expansion, we are looking into hire more talented people around the world to sustain our growth. By the end of the year, we most likely have 400 employees in two or three offices. And I said before, we are expecting to reach revenue of $350 million this year.