We continue to summarize the results of 2021 together with top managers and experts of the gaming industry (and related ones). Next up is an interview with Elizaveta Zharkova, the head of the VKontakte gaming platform.

How did 2021 go for the company?

The year turned out to be rich in events, launches and new technologies.

For example, we have updated the VKontakte app for iPad. It has become more convenient for its users to communicate, work, study and have fun.

A new video platform “VK Video” was also presented, which combined all VK video assets. Now it is the largest video service in Russia in terms of the size of the unique daily audience — it is 40 million people. Every year, viewers watch over 2 billion unique videos, and authors upload more than 250 million videos.

It was not without a holiday: in 2021, the social network VKontakte turned 15 years old. We celebrated the birthday on a large scale and prepared many surprises. Everyone could participate in an online party with a drawing of gifts for 1.5 billion rubles and bonuses from VKontakte games.

The entire VKontakte team is constantly growing — along with the tasks that we set ourselves. Therefore, we have opened a third headquarters in St. Petersburg next to St. Isaac’s Cathedral. To do this, we chose a building that continues the traditions of Singer and the House at the Red Bridge and is located within walking distance from them. VKontakte also has a headquarters in Moscow and a field headquarters in Sochi.

As for the VKontakte games themselves, we have launched many integrations together with VKontakte Food, Steps and VK Checkback services. We also held a lot of promotions and sales in the game catalog. And on Black Friday, they set a record for the number of payments on the Direct Games mobile HTML5 platform. By the way, in 2021, the sum of all Direct Games sales increased by 65% in 2021, and the advertising revenue of the platform increased eightfold.

We have also added new tools for developers. Now it is enough to make one integration so that the games become available in both the mobile and web versions of the social network. Among the updates there are additional promo options for games.

What event or trend of 2021 do you consider central within your niche?

We consider it important that HTML5 technologies strengthen their positions in the gaming industry. The past year has presented many notable projects in this area. But the changes were not only in the number of HTML5 games. Their graphics were improved, scenarios and gameplay became more and more developed. Even the general approach to the use of internal social mechanics began to change. All this was shown by the GamesCup tournament, which we held together with colleagues from Odnoklassniki and My World.

Also in 2021, we started working with many well-known brands in the industry. Interest in the social gaming market is growing, and that’s great. We expect that projects with already known characters will be launched in 2022.

If we talk about the market as a whole, we are closely monitoring the development of the concept of “metaverse” and what exactly it means for the game world. Things that we used to see only in movies and in our dreams began to take on real features in 2021. It all sounds very interesting. But it seems that technologies in this direction are just beginning to develop, so both users and companies of the gaming and IT market will be watching this from the outside for a long time.

The year was full of high-profile deals, well-known confrontations, and bright releases. For example, the new Pathfinder project has become noticeable: Wrath of the Righteous — a domestic game with a classic role-playing plot, but in a modern package. Excellent graphics, pleasant music and a lot of options for the development of events — I recommend it.

What will be the stake in the development of the company in 2022?

The VKontakte gaming platform plans to continue integration with other social network services and reach a new audience. Already in the first quarter of 2022, we hope to share interesting news.

Our main focus in working with users is to make the gaming platform as convenient and interesting as possible. And the focus of working with developers and publishers is to provide them with the best and most understandable tools to attract a new audience.

We will continue to create notable products and consolidate market leadership. All in order for users to receive high-quality services, quickly and comfortably solve their tasks. We hope that the energy and talent of the united VKontakte team will help to achieve success.