On the eve of the New Year, App2Top continues to publish a series of "Results" materials, in which it talks with representatives of the gaming industry about how 2023 passed for their company and the market. Next up is an interview with Vyacheslav Utochkin, co—founder and general producer of Geeky House.

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

I think that the motto of the past year for the gaming industry may be the phrase "Not thanks, but in spite of". It was a difficult time in terms of decision-making both for our company and for gaming companies around the world, as can be seen even from publications throughout the year on App2Top. It was a rare week without news about the cuts. However, despite the difficulties, we overcame the crisis and strengthened our position, achieving a number of results.

Firstly, we conducted five softlocks of mobile games in the merge-2 genre, two of which – Magical Merge and Mage's Secret – demonstrated inspiring metrics, now they are confidently heading for release.

Secondly, we have transformed our company's strategy: we have paid maximum attention to the development and publication of our own games, while reducing the activity of onboarding third-party titles. We also temporarily froze the VR direction, which allowed us to fully focus on mobile development in the merge-2 genre.

Thirdly, we were pleased with the organic growth of interest in our already released merge-2 games: several million organic users came, while the reviews were positive. And recently, a blogger with 2.5 million subscribers reviewed our Minetap game, and this is not an advertisement ordered from our side, but the decision of the blogger himself to show his audience a good quality product. By the way, the review can be viewed here.

Well, the most unusual achievement of this year was the project of creating a real IT city with a focus on game development in Dagestan, initiated by our company Geeky House. Recently, we presented Itgrad at the international Caspian Digital Forum to the Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation and the leadership of the Republic of Dagestan.

Together with our partners, we plan to build a modern center for the development of the IT industry in general and the gaming industry in particular, providing 15,000 people from all regions of Russia and professionals from other countries with high-quality education, jobs, comfortable and affordable housing and efficient infrastructure on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The city's development and development plan is designed for 10 years, and the first step has already been taken.

This grandiose and large-scale project will contribute to the development of the gaming industry in Russia. All conditions are provided here for the training of qualified personnel, building international relations, and financial support for developers to implement their game projects.

The creation of regional IT clusters is a trend this year all over the world, especially in Asia and Arab countries. For example, the gaming cluster in Abu Dhabi is now attracting increased interest among industry participants.

How has the market for game publishers changed this year?

Many companies have transformed or left the market. In general, the model of game publishing is currently undergoing changes, and the trend for their popularity has ended. Now we can rather talk about the trend towards their closure in the mobile market and the transition to a model where the publisher itself develops and publishes its own games or games created by external teams, but with the money of the publisher himself.

At the same time, there are more and more requirements for products in the mobile market. The fashion for genres is changing. For example, it's good that a couple of years ago we went to the fast-growing merge-2, and not to tower defense and battlers. Other trends include growing competition, long payback periods, and the increasing cost of traffic. The market is strongly influenced by changes in the policy of platforms regarding user data, and Unity's sensational, albeit failed, offer to pay for the installation of games made on their engine, suggests the fragility of economic models in mobile games.

Nevertheless, there is a certain stabilization of the industry after a period of active growth caused by the pandemic. Currently, the market is starting to show signs of recovery, and a small but positive growth in the mobile gaming industry can be expected this year.

It is also worth noting that this year there are more accelerators that offer expanded expertise, monetization assistance and have more flexible terms of cooperation in favor of developers. As I said above, accelerators, game development clusters, hubs and IT cities are the trend of the season.

What are the company's plans for next year?

Next year, we plan to release our mobile games — Magical Merge and Mage's Secret, a soft launch of several new titles in the merge-2 genre, updates for our old Minetap and Minetap 3D games, and of course, further development of the Itgrad project. There are a lot of new things ahead, and we hope that the situation in the world in general and in the gaming industry in particular will cease to look like the saying: "How are you?" "Like in a fairy tale... the further away, the scarier it gets."