We continue to summarize the results of 2023 with the gaming (or related to the gaming sector) teams. Next up is an interview with Pavel Ignatov, CEO at Balance, a company that specializes in gaming LiveOps.

What was the year like for the company? What have you done that I would like to highlight in terms of achievements?

This year has been the most productive and eventful in the history of Balance on all fronts.

Firstly, we have pumped the product very much as a LiveOps platform that helps to grow LTV in games. In addition, we managed to conduct the first fairly successful experiments with AI to optimize the price for inaps. This is the direction that we will develop next year.

As a result of working on the product and strengthening the bizdev team, we have increased the list of customers several times and expanded our geography to Europe and the USA. And we also found a number of cool partners with whom we are actively working on education in the field of LiveOps. These are the accelerator programs Google Play, GameFounders, F2P Campus and a number of others from well-known VC.

In the photos Pavel Ignatov and Yulia Ilyyuk from Balance during performances at PGC Helsinki, F2P Campus and Linq Conference

This year we have managed to create very fertile ground for team expansion and product development in 2024.

How has the LiveOps market changed over the year?

LiveOps has always been about users, but this year the focus on personalizing content for different players has become even more important. This is cool because it reflects the gaming industry's commitment to improving the user experience as a key tool for effective monetization of games.

A big shift that cannot be overlooked is the active transition from hyper–casual to hybrid games with IAP monetization and LiveOps. Some major players (SayGames would be a good example) have already shown impressive success along the way. In many ways, the success of their transition to a hybrid economy lies in the fact that these studios have invested significant efforts in LiveOps tools, user segmentation, A/B testing and setting up flexible offers within games. And someone has yet to go this way.

If we talk about the instrument market, it has become more diverse. New platforms have appeared, and some existing ones have set one of the directions for the development of LiveOps. Everyone has a different focus and a different approach, it's interesting to watch. For us, this is a signal that we are moving in the right direction and the LiveOps system will soon become a must-have for studios.

Has the practice of working with gaming companies changed? How exactly?

The difficult market forces game studios to be even more careful when choosing software. The issues of convenience and limitlessness of functionality, perhaps even friendly relations, fade into the background.

At the head of the table is the growth of monetization metrics, which one or another tool will potentially bring. The main focus of studios today is on building strong monetization that would cover the costs of a high CPI, which, it seems, nothing can be done about it yet.

However, we look at these difficulties rather as an opportunity, because Balance was created to help developers grow LTV. LiveOps is the foundation of any successful project in 2024. We are looking at projects like Monopoly GO! and June's Journey (the revenue of both games crossed the billion dollar mark last month) and we are inspired by their success in operating.

What trends in gaming LiveOps have become more relevant?

My top topics this year include special offers in games. The formats have become even more creative and work more deeply with the psychology of the player. If we are not talking about visual, then even more attention has been paid to personalization and the creation of game-centric content.

Cascading offers to improve conversion to the first payment using the example of the game Idle Forces: Army Tycoon (developer — Hot Siberians)

Constant requests from developers on this topic even led us to create dynamic offers inside Balance. These are offers that are filled with content and select a price for a specific player, taking into account his preferences and behavior.

In a difficult market, creative tactics and partnerships are gaining momentum – for example, the collaboration of games with brands. First of all, it's a great way to bring in new players without spending on CPI. Secondly, it has a good effect on engagement metrics. Recent notable collaborations include: Fortnite and LEGO, Angry Birds Dream Blast and Apple Music, Burger Please! and Burger King, Candy Crush Saga and Barbie.

What are the company's plans for next year?

Today, with the help of Balance, developers are successfully building a personalized store and offer chains, launching events and tournaments, creating combat passes and other seasonal features. Our goal is to make these activities even more effective through several directions.

  • First, we will add ready-made working templates to the platform, which the developer will be able to add to the game in a couple of clicks (instead of weeks of development). We have already accumulated a lot of developments and experience, and we want to share them with new developers.
  • Secondly, we will provide deeper analytics of these LiveOps activities right inside the platform.
  • Thirdly, we will launch new engines and integrate with payment systems and popular platforms (MMP, analytics) that our clients use.

I would also like to note that this year we conducted a series of successful experiments on AI optimization of price tags for goods in the store. This is just the first step, which has the potential to raise the revenue of the project by 20-30%. In the future, the platform will use AI for an increasing range of recommendations for operating the game (for example, to warn users of dumps and launch events to return them, dynamically select content, offer prices, etc.)

The Balance team is also actively developing, and we are looking for cool experts in LiveOps and monetization from various product categories. Therefore, if any of the readers like to monetize games, do it well and would like to work on the future of LiveOps in games, then feel free to write pavel@balancy.co .