On November 21, VGTRK’s gaming division, Interactive Stories, debuted on the mobile market. The first project of the studio was the game “Secrets of the Investigation” based on the TV series of the same name. App2Top.ru I talked about the launch of the project with the producer of “Interactive Stories” Nikita Lyubimov.
Hi! Today, “Secrets of the Investigation” is being released – in my memory, one of the first Russian mobile games based on a domestic television brand (“Russia 1”) and at the same time not focused on children. Given the locality of the brand, it turns out that the project is aimed strictly at our domestic market. What’s the point, because the success of such a project cannot be scaled?
Nikita Lyubimov – producer of the Interactive Stories studio (a division of the VGTRK Gaming Department)Hello.
Well, about “one of the first”… As far as I remember, there were enough similar games in Russia even during the early formation of the market, not to mention the current situation. Another thing is that they rarely turned out to be good, but here is a question for the developers.
Our first project (as well as the subsequent one) is really focused on Russia and, to a lesser extent, the CIS. This is due to both the specifics of the brands and the means of promotion that are available to us through cooperation with the holding (the total coverage of TV, Internet and radio resources of the holding is 200 million people).
The meaning and the main purpose of our project are twofold. First of all, we want to make money (even if we are talking about a moderate profit), and secondly, we want to give a new life to the popular brands of the holding. We plan to use proven monetization models, as well as a number of promotion tools that are atypical for the gaming market (such as ATL or a mention in the news) provided by the holding. There is, however, another obvious goal. By entering new platforms and formats, we want to increase the role of popular brands in people’s lives.
The project is a reskin of the cult “Democracy”, which was a clone of a variation on the theme of the three-in-a–row genre – Triple Town. Why did you stop at this particular mechanic?
In fact, we had about 10 projects under consideration, among which we carefully selected. Some of them were small puzzles, as we wanted to launch at least two small projects on which we could roll back our internal launch and promotion processes (our studio started work a year ago), as well as test the influence of the brand in isolation from the gameplay. Actually, among those developers with whom we eventually decided to work were Neskinsoft. Firstly, they have been working with this mechanics for quite a long time and clearly understand it [“Neskinsoft” – the authors of “Democracy”, – editor’s note]; secondly, the key people of the studio are literally industry veterans, and with them there is less chance of unpleasant surprises.
What changes have you made compared to the original, not counting art?
This is a completely different story, other characters open this gameplay to a wide audience. From the point of view of gameplay, we have reduced the number of features compared to the original, as we understand that not too experienced players will come to us, whom complexity may scare away.
Despite the high rating of 4.4 on Google Play, you can see negative reviews about the monetization system. Please tell me about her. How did she show herself in the framework of the softlonch?
Yes, the rating, as well as, for example, the average length of the game session (more than 10 minutes) we are happy now.
Our monetization is very conditional. There is a full functionality that costs $2 (it includes an unlimited number of moves and additional help from an “FSB Agent” — a booster, which can only be moved to the free version a limited number of times), the ability to buy pieces on the field for premium currency and the ability to receive part of these bonuses for viewing ads. This is different from the free-play puzzle games popular on the market with an infinite number of levels, so part of the audience reacts negatively. But, in general, the base of loyal players is growing and rare objections do not spoil the blissful picture.
The system proved to be expected for the CIS. Not a lot of money from one user, but in terms of price / quality we are satisfied.
It is important to understand here that we are going to bring the audience through the holding’s television channels, which are free for us. That is, most developers would definitely not be happy with such indicators, since it is impossible to buy traffic with them, but we have a completely different economy of attraction.
A soft launch usually demonstrates both the pros and cons of a project. Makes it possible to strengthen the first and get rid of the second. How did softlonch change the “Secrets of the investigation”?
We experimented with advertising monetization, which the developers didn’t have much experience with. That’s where the main changes happened.
According to the changes: we made a couple of experiments with advertising monetization, added hints that facilitate the first steps on the playing field. The gameplay itself is so time-tested that we just removed the bugs and polished the interfaces.
By the way, have you matched the mechanics to the brand or the brand to the mechanics?
This is a mutually directed process. We evaluate the current audience of projects and brands, assess how they intersect now and whether they can attract a new audience. After that, we will find out from the developers with whom we would like to work which brands they would prefer. Then we make a choice.
“Secrets of the Investigation” is one of the largest Russian television detective brands (along with “Street of Broken Lanterns“ and ”Kamenskaya”). What tasks did the team face in terms of transferring it to a new platform? Were there any prohibitions or, on the contrary, important points that must necessarily be present in the title?
Oh, these stories about how difficult it is to make games by brands. But, thank God, we are not Disney, and we have good contact with the holding, so the main problems concerned some ancient agreements that appeared before us. In terms of content, there were, in fact, no restrictions.
Final question: What are the tasks facing the project now?
Two key tasks: to make money on the project and show the audience of the series that their brand is entering new platforms.
Thanks for the interview.