We continue to summarize the results of 2020 together with top managers and experts of the gaming industry (and related ones). Next up is an interview with Sergey Zanin, co-founder and CEO of Alawar.

Sergey Zanin

How was 2020 for the company?

This year is a record year for us in terms of net profit in the entire history of the company. Of course, the pandemic contributed (sales were noticeably higher than planned for several months), but in general it is the merit of the team and projects.

Such success would not have been possible without our effective presence in Asia. We have been working with Asian partners for a long time, they help in the distribution and marketing of our projects in the eastern markets.

The downside of the pandemic: we had to quickly rebuild the technology stack to organize the team's work remotely. Mostly everything went well, work efficiency was not affected, we are on schedule.

Of the important things: we have launched several new midcore and casual projects, and we also do not forget about the "sandbox" (we study adjacent market segments).

The New Year's corporate party was celebrated online. For its holding, the organizers were invited, who have already filled their hands at such events in 2020.

What new trends in your niche do you consider worth paying attention to?

Any market is cyclical. Within each cycle (lasting about a decade), he goes through the path "from simple to complex".

For example, the PC casual games market in 1999 was ready for projects with a budget of $500. After 10 years, only those games whose development cost $500 thousand could achieve success. By that time, the market was already consolidated, and demand for it had reached the ceiling. As a result, the average check did not grow. As for the developers, they migrated to mobile platforms.

The same story was repeated in the mobile casual products market. It all started with simple games and budget ports from the PC. But the market was growing, and with it the requirements for the level of projects. Over 10 years, project budgets have grown proportionally.

Now mobile is ending its decade. And we see the consolidation of the mobile market, and at the same time the emergence of new stories. For example, a hyper-casual one that moves according to the usual scenario "from simple to complex".

From 2021, I expect the emergence of new segments, new market niches with a low entry threshold, which will become the basis for another large 10-year cycle. Perhaps new niches will not appear. I admit that AR/MR will still become a big story for the market, but this will happen only if the required technology stack is really accessible to a wide audience.

While there are no new segments, it is worth closely monitoring streaming services, the development of gaming ecosystems and subscription models.

What market trends would you note in general?

  • 2020 has become stellar in terms of deals and acquisitions. Embracer and Stillfront Group were especially noted.
  • The subscription monetization model continues to develop. Microsoft's Game Pass is becoming louder and louder. By the way, our service has recently become available on this serviceBeholder!
  • Subscription is also developing on mobile platforms. For example, in 2020, Google Play Pass became available in new regions (including Russia). Several of our projects will appear on it. Yes, the subscription model is also developing on iOS. Apple launched a higher-level subscription in 2020 – Apple One. We are waiting for a response model from Google in 2021.
  • Cloud gaming is also developing. Google Stadia, GeForce Now, Playstation Now and Microsoft xCloud have performed well. The Amazon Luna service performed especially vividly, which turned out to be available as a PWA application on iOS.
  • The battle of the titans of the market (Apple and Epic Games) was worth attention. Its first practical result was to reduce Apple's commission for small developers by half.
  • A new generation of consoles has been released.

What will be the stake in the development of the company in 2021?

We continue to focus on midcore – we are constantly looking for new teams with interesting projects to publish on PC, consoles and mobile. We are planning several midcore releases in 2021.

Of course, we do not forget about the development of our casual direction. We plan to launch about 15 similar projects in 2021.

We also take a close look at the adjacent platforms and mechanics. In 2021, our R&D will focus on mobile games based on free-to-play monetization, as well as casual+ projects.

Which third-party game releases are you interested in?

In 2020, it was especially interesting to study the phenomenon of Among Us (even if the game came out earlier). He also paid attention to such games as Woodturning 3D, Fall Guys, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Genshin Impact.

For the soul, I played The Last of Us Part II, Hades, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and, of course, the long-awaited Cyberpunk 2077.