At the end of January, the American game developer Tilting Point announced the launch of a Russian division. We talked about the new studio and the challenges it faces with the president of the company, Samir El-Agili.
Samir El-AjiliApp2Top.ru : Why Russia and why St. Petersburg?
Samir: Since we are working on games for an international audience, we are interested in creating teams wherever a large number of talented and experienced specialists can be found. In Russia there are both the first and the second. As for St. Petersburg, the city is a forge of world-class teams.
App2Top.ru: Western companies are wary of investing in Russia. I’m not talking about creating a daughter here. Did you have any concerns?
Samir: We had no concerns at all regarding the creation of a team in Russia. We are very experienced in terms of operating several studios with different time zones, languages, cultures. The love of creating cool games is what unites us all.
App2Top.ru : Well, how difficult was it for an American company to launch a division in Russia?
Samir: Launching a studio in any new country can be difficult. Checking whether all procedures comply with the requirements of local state regulators is tricky and time-consuming. We were lucky. Thanks to the fact that we acquired FTX Games and Plamee [The emergence of a new division became possible due to the purchase from Playtech of the assets of the publisher FTX Games, which was responsible for the launch of Narcos: Cartel Wars, Criminal Minds: The Mobile Game and other games. One of the assets was the St. Petersburg studio Plamee. — Editor’s note.], we immediately had the basis for the future team. This, as well as our experience in launching studios in other regions, allowed us to effectively manage the process.
Narcos: Cartel WarsApp2Top.ru : What advantages do you see from working in the country for yourself?
Samir: The launch of the studio in Russia has many advantages. The most important thing is experienced and talented people who can help Tilting Point in creating cool games for a global audience. There are also a lot of cool developers and mobile games who occupy high positions in the local store, and we can’t wait to expand our regional portfolio with cool projects.
App2Top.ru : Currently, there are about 20 employees at Tilting Point Russia (formerly Plamee). How much are you going to scale it?
Samir: Tilting Point plans to have a very aggressive growth. To provide it, we need excellent employees. We need a lot of cool guys. Our current goal is to triple the size of the team in the next 12 months. We are very selective in who we hire, we are not chasing an increase in numbers.
At the same time, we plan to grow the team while there are cool people to hire.
We are sure that it is the personnel pool that allows companies to achieve their goals.
App2Top.ru: In Russia, the ruble has fallen significantly in recent years. At the same time, the level of specialists is high. How is the company going to build a salary policy in the region? Meet market expectations or bring salaries to the same level, for example, with the American department?
Samir: Our goal is to find cool employees and pay them based on their experience.
Changes in exchange rates are a worthwhile challenge for a global company that deals with local regulators and laws.
The structure of studios owned by Tilting Point allows you to encourage both teams and individual employees. The global HR team has built a bonus program that operates in all studios. According to it, each studio and team in it has its own goals and associated incentives/bonuses.
App2Top.ru: In the personnel market of mobile game developers, there is now a fierce struggle for middle and senior level specialists. In St. Petersburg, you will have to compete at least with Playrix, MYTONA, MY.GAMES. Do you have any idea how you will do it?
Samir: The gaming industry is very dynamic. Cool cadres usually wander between companies and products. Movements, as a rule, are related to the stage of development of a particular studio or game. Our studio is just at the beginning of the journey, so we are waiting for those personnel who will be interested in taking part in the formation of its structure, culture and first projects. Now we are looking for managers who will be responsible for building the rest of the team.
Narcos: Cartel WarsApp2Top.ru Are you going to transport personnel to St. Petersburg, for example, from New York to transfer experience?
Samir: We have no plans to bring third-party management or employees from other territories to Tilting Point Russia. Of course, Tilting Point uses its own universal set of tools and processes. They are necessary for an effective exchange of information to take place within the organization. At the same time, we allow each studio to build a unique culture and its own processes.
App2Top.ru : In December 2019, there were rumors about the closure of Plamee. As we understand it, then the first cuts began. What was it connected with then?
Samir: At that time, Plamee belonged to a very large global company that was not interested in casual and mobile games. In contrast, Tilting Point is focused just on mobile and understands how to make successful games and how to manage studios, how to use the resources they need to stimulate their growth.
App2Top.ru Q: In what direction are you going to develop it today? Will she, as before, be responsible for Narcos: Cartel Wars?
Samir: Our primary task is to form a cool backbone that will determine the goals and strategy of the studio.
We plan to launch a full-fledged development team, as well as complement several support teams. A competent and talented local team will allow us to publish games that will be very successful in Russia and the region as a whole.
As for Narcos: Cartel Wars, it has been on the market for five years now. And it remains a very successful and profitable game. Tilting Point Russia will continue to operate on her.