The co-founder of Azur Games Artem Nikolaev told about the launch of the office in Dubai and the trends of the year.

Artem NikolaevHow was 2018 for you personally?

2018 was a great year — both personally and professionally. In general, I would say that 2018 is a year of work. What is important: this work was pleasant and fruitful. For example, we have opened a new office in Dubai, where we will recruit new employees (the UAE is the fourth country in a row and already the fifth city for Azur Games). We have also increased our presence in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Cyprus and Minsk.

How was the year for your company?

The year has been incredibly productive and important: our team has grown almost three times, we have launched a number of interesting projects and expanded our portfolio with new releases. Now we have more than 15 projects.

We are seeing a steady increase in indicators on several of our projects (their DAU is already steadily rising above 1 million) and we hope to surprise the market with new hits in the coming year. For example, only by the beginning of 2019 we plan to release several games that we have been working on all this year. Therefore, 2018 is not over for us yet.

What event of 2018 do you consider the most important for the industry?

First, I will note the situation with loot boxes: there is more and more interest in in-game content, and regulators are looking at them more closely. If at the beginning of the scandal only Belgium considered the possibility of banning them, now the US Federal Trade Commission is also interested in loot boxes. You need to be on your guard here.

The second topic is the negative reaction to the announcement of Blizzard’s mobile Diablo and the opposite response to Fallout Shelter three years ago. Market giants who only want to take their place in the market should take into account when marketing and working with the community that the mobile industry is changing very quickly.

The third event is blocking the issuance of licenses for publishing games in China. The already complex, but fast-growing and large market has become even more difficult. The story with the certification, which began in March of this year, as you know, has subsided, but has not been resolved. Perhaps, in this regard, the activity on M&A transactions has been reduced. I want to say that we are also concerned about this fact.

What trends of the outgoing year would you note?

In mobile, I will note the high demand for hyper-casual projects. And the market is ready to satisfy it. Whether the trend will remain next year is more likely yes than no. Major players will increasingly pay attention to such projects and release their own. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, the level of market penetration is growing. This means that there is an audience with little or no gaming experience on it (since the threshold for entering hyper-casual projects is minimal, anyone can play in them).

Secondly, such projects change the paradigm of game development in terms of cost and time: the preparation time for such a product is shorter, and there are more opportunities to test hypotheses without serious costs. With all this, you will not need to refine your game with a file for a whole year.

The trends of VR and AR, technologies that were predicted to have a great future in 2017, have been preserved, but only in commercial areas. If we talk about the b2c sector, then this market is not growing so fast. Those who were able to apply and adapt this technology for themselves in 2018 were able to earn something.

By the way, in 2018, the market of VR parks and special places for family holidays with VR sections has greatly increased. If we talk about the mobile market, then the trend of using technology has dropped significantly here.

What are the third-party projects of this year that you liked the most?

Most of all, I sympathized with the hyper-casual projects of Playgendary, mobile Fortnite, Hustle Castle from and Ada of Magic, released by Playkot. It is these games that I want to celebrate in 2018 — they turned out to be successful and cool.