The hyper-casual games market is becoming more competitive. In mid-February, MY.GAMES announced an investment in Espresso Publishing. This is a new hypercage publisher. We talked with Zakhar Serebryannikov, CEO of the startup, and Elena Grigoryan, Marketing and Advertising Director of MY.GAMES, about what he is going to offer to the market.

Alexander Semenov, Editor-in-Chief Let’s start a little bit from afar. Zar, you were the head of Azur’s marketing department when Stack Ball was being launched. That was two years ago. What has changed in the GC during this time?

Zakhar Serebryannikov

Zakhar Serebryannikov, CEO of Espresso Publishing: A lot has changed. But let me focus on the central point for me: there are new traffic channels, new purchasing tools, as well as new approaches to the analysis and evaluation of performance campaigns. A striking example is TikTok, which has turned from an entertainment social network into an important tool for attracting users.

In general, today we are witnessing an arms race of advertising networks and mediators, with the help of which the main revenue in the GC is earned. We see bidders appear, and mediators become serious technological tools in competition with each other.

Good. Now let’s get closer to Espresso Publishing. As a person who constantly monitors the news agenda, my first reaction to the words “a new hypercausal publisher has been announced” is: “How? Another one?”. Aren’t there too many of them today and is there a place for everyone?

Zakhar: The competition is high, but the hyper-casual market is not only growing, but also maturing. The volume of the hyper-casual games market has exceeded $3 billion, and the number of studios and local GC developers has grown at least 2 times over the past year. That is why we are seeing an increase in the number of publishers.

So I think that publishing hyper-casual projects as a business has quite high chances of success.

Here you are talking about the growth of the market and the number of studios. Is it worth waiting for the separation of hypercausal companies by specialization? For example, someone will be engaged in one type of GC, someone else.

Zakhar: The division of players by specialization is possible only in one case: if we are talking about development studios that publish their projects independently and at the same time do not take third-party projects for publishing.

Here’s what else is important to consider: it is difficult to specialize in something specific in the GC. Genres and subgenres are constantly changing. It would be more correct to talk about specializations in artistic style. And it does take place. Often, at a glance, you can distinguish which studio owns a particular art.

I didn’t just ask a question about specialization. Is Espresso Publishing planning to focus on something specific in the GC?

Zakhar: Probably not. We plan to become a universal publisher in all markets and eventually compete with major players.

And among the key features will be?

Zakhar: In the future, we plan to create a hub in the form of a platform that will become not only a marketing tool, but also a useful resource for all developers. This will be a technological solution that will allow you to quickly test hypotheses and get marketing and product metrics for hyper-casual games. The platform is currently in beta testing, but very soon, this April, we will present it to the general public.

Well, this plus or minus is clear, but at the announcement it was announced that Espresso Publishing will continue the MY.GAMES hyper-casual direction program, which was announced a year ago. Does this mean that Espresso Publishing is a hyper—casual brand of MY.GAMES?

Elena Grigoryan

Elena Grigoryan, CMO MY.GAMES: Espresso Publishing is a partner of MY.GAMES, in whom we believe, whose expertise we value and believe that with our support, the guys will build a really successful business.

We act as a curator and a “shoulder”, ready to provide the team with all the necessary resources and infrastructure for development at the international level.

We have been successfully practicing this partnership approach for several years as part of our investment direction for developer studios. Now we have realized that it can be perfectly applied to the publishing of hyper-casual games.

Starting from this formulation, I can’t help but ask: it turns out that MY.GAMES is ready to invest in other hyper-casual publishers, potential concruents of Espresso Publishing?

Elena: The GC games market is still going through a formative stage, which means that publishers will still appear on it, capable of providing developers with high-quality service, and players with interesting new games for every taste. Therefore, it is possible that the pool of MY.GAMES partners in this niche will be replenished with new teams.

Since we are talking about the MY.GAMES hyper-casual program, then let’s dwell on it a little more. MY.GAMES announced it in April last year. Nothing has been heard about it since then. Moreover, I have come across comments that in the end it did not result in anything. But this is all a view from the outside. Tell me what happened to the initiative for a whole year, what processes were going on, what did it all come to?

Elena: The conditions that we announced within the framework of the program to support girpekazual developers aroused obvious interest among partners. As a result, the company received a significant number of applications and conducted hundreds of tests of hypercausal projects (CPI, Ret. and ROI tests).

In search of the most effective scheme of the hyper-casual direction, we tested different approaches: starting from sifting through a large number of projects, expanding the funnel of incoming applications from developers (game jams and other communication activities), ending with cooperation with partner publishers working with a narrow pool of proven studios, each of which has extensive experience in the hyper-casual industry.

The conclusions made during this time and the experience gained allowed MY.GAMES to choose its own way of cooperation with both developers and partner publishers specializing in GC. The company gave the latter access to all available technological developments, documentation and business models, allowing them to create their own unique offer and work scheme based on existing solutions. This made it possible, on the one hand, to significantly expand the distribution of the program among developers, and on the other, to support young promising publishers of hyper-casual titles.

Okay This was sorted out. Now there is a block of business questions, the answers to which will be very interesting to developers of GK games.

  • According to what schemes are you ready to work with teams?

The classic scheme of work according to our offer is when the studio comes to us with its product. In this case, the developer can receive up to 60% of the profit already at the launch of the first joint product under the license agreement.

The company is also ready to cooperate on the terms of prepayment of prototypes for studios (PPP). Program partners will have access to a dynamic reward system: up to $6,000 for prototype development and from 50% of net profit in favor of the developer, depending on the metrics of the product.

Additionally, we have a form of work based on the financial support of developers, where payments are made on a monthly basis according to the agreed needs of the team for the implementation of key indicators.

  • Who has the IP for the game?

The IP for the game depends on the chosen scheme of work. We are ready to discuss the needs of our partners and their needs.

  • Do you sign the NDA before the tests?

We have an offer that contains NDA points. The developer can sign it at will.

  • What platforms are you testing on?

iOS and Android. We give preference to the platform that the developer chooses. The testing processes are the same. Nuance: Android has slightly different benchmarks for receiving bonus payments.

  • How exactly do you usually test?

With the Facebook SDK enabled. Everything else can be connected at will. We are GEO-oriented to the States, sometimes we conduct global campaigns if necessary.

  • Do you prepare creatives yourself?

Yes, we also always show the developer the finished result before testing. Then we share metrics for each creative so that partners understand which way to move.

  • What are the “pass-through” indicators for the adoption of the project?

Passing indicators are flexible metrics that combine many factors, including the market situation. Thus, we can take the game for publication at a CPI above the market average, if all other metrics show a positive result. Yes, we have special benchmarks for advance payments and a 60% rebate, which we are ready to do already at the start of product development, but we can take the game into operation with any metrics that we consider potentially successful.