December came. The end of the year is rapidly approaching. On its eve, according to the established tradition, App2Top, together with representatives of gaming and near-gaming companies, summarizes the results. The current series of results opens with an interview with Sergey Zanin, co-founder and CEO of Alawar.

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

For us, this is not just the results of the year, but the reporting year of the four-year sprint. Exactly four years ago, in November 2019, I took over the operational management of the company.

The key tasks then were the reformatting of processes and teams. The team had to get rid of paternalism and learn how to make decisions on their own, negotiate and be responsible for the result. And do it systematically.

Each employee had to begin to understand why, how and where the company was going, as well as at what point, why and in what state it was here and now, what tasks it faced and what its role and resources were in the overall process. And also that everyone can (and does) influence on the company's decisions.

Separately, the focus was on training the team (including top management skills) and, of course, on a minimum of bureaucracy for everyone and maximum creative freedom in production and publishing.

The following mechanisms have been implemented for this purpose:

  • collective decision-making. Strategic and operational. No autocracy and voluntarism. All those involved have equal votes, including the CEO. And then they are responsible for their own front of work themselves. This eliminates the mistake of the "smartest", which is often made by the head of the company. At the same time, it avoids "collective irresponsibility";
  • a common information space. Everyone should equally understand the current state of the company and processes of any degree of detail. Mindfulness is an important component of motivation;
  • removing feedback. The initiative on the ground is most welcome and discussed with all involved, and can also be implemented regardless of the position. Including in terms of training, which we have always paid special attention to.



In the course of this:

  • we parted with the dissenters, and new talented guys came in their place;
  • We got people to additional positions;
  • we have upgraded the top managers in management competencies (and we continue to upgrade);
  • with varying degrees of complexity, but all these processes have been implemented and polished.

Summing up these four years:

  • This year is the best year for us in terms of net profit in history;
  • This year is the year of maximum detail of the unit economy for us;
  • This year is the best year ever for us in terms of processes, teamwork and efficiency.;
  • This year we have probably the strongest team ever.

It is no coincidence that this year we released Wall World. Perhaps the most successful after Beholder is its own midcore project.

Wall World

How has the market changed for game publishers?

The market continues to grow. Let me remind you that Steam grew by 50% in simultaneous online in 2022 relative to 2021 (from 20 to 30 million players). By January 2023, it had grown by another 10%.

And at this stage, growth is not only about new opportunities, but also about increasing pressure on all its players, and publishers in the first place.

In any open, growing market, the number of releases, publishers, and teams grows along with the growth of the audience.

Every time, the growing gaming markets demonstrate an increase in project requirements, both in terms of production and publishing. Whether it's premium, free-to-play casual games, web games, ultra/hypercage – you name it.

This market is no exception. The further you go, the more competencies, time, finances and efforts will be required to deserve places in the sun.

We have not yet reached the point where the market is consolidated and there are no new publishers on it, but we are moving towards it.

All this means that every year best practices arrives in the piggy bank, but once again any mistakes of both teams and publishers become more expensive.

In such conditions, everything becomes super important for the publisher. Including the slightest nuances that previously seemed unimportant or were ignored. Now they can be the cause of success or failure.

Rescue Team: Mineral of Miracles

Rescue Team: Mineral of Miracles

The more bigwigs the publisher has collected and the better he has systematized them, the stronger his position. Therefore, the publisher's experience and portfolio, coupled with a systematic approach, play a key role here.

And it's not just about the "external" competencies of working with projects, teams, sites, marketing or even internal deployment.

Internal competencies are of particular importance. Vertical and horizontal interaction, information space, decision-making procedures, delegation and control, systematization of the knowledge base.

In the early stages of the market, all this can be ignored, growing as necessary, substituting "crutches" into the rapidly tearing canvas of the business. But it won't be long. And this stage of the market has long been over.

At some point, a new market will appear with a near-zero entry threshold and requirements. And history will repeat itself again.

Last but not least. Any organization is primarily about people. Team. Well-coordinated, motivated and effective. It will become more difficult to create and retain such a team every year, since only the best of the best will remain, and for the reasons described above, they will be missed.

And at such moments, when the market is already consolidated, the struggle for people also intensifies.

All this will provoke market participants with reduced business responsibility to hunt for individual specialists or slots at once, but it will always end badly for them.

And one-day publishers have vanishingly few chances to stay on the market right now.

And it's a shame for the great projects that made a mistake with the publisher and didn't take off. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.

We also see our flaw in this – we need more presence in the media space.

New Yankee: Mary’s Dark Side

Has the practice of working with developers changed, perhaps the developers themselves, their requirements, desires, and the level of proposed projects have somehow changed?

We are seeing more and more teams that have become disillusioned with the mobile market and have joined the PC.

These are already "played" teams that have gone through a good game development school, which is good for us. On the other hand, there are issues that require more time to discuss than with teams that immediately focus on our market.

More and more teams are demonstrating a good level of financial and legal literacy, which we warmly welcome — the negotiation process is greatly simplified.

But each team is always its own, individual story. So it was and so it will be.

We have never been a pipeline and we do not plan to be one. We are a boutique when every studio gets the maximum of our attention, regardless of.

We start helping long before a possible signing on a wide range of issues — from project ideas to opening accounts. And we respect any decision of the teams in the end.

We play and make games ourselves, and we consider this to be our important advantage. We are on your side, simply because we are the same. We started as a studio in 1999.

We are you.

Incredible Dracula: Dark Carnival

Incredible Dracula: Dark Carnival

What are the company's plans for next year?

The focus is on premium midcore, on PC/console.

We continue to expand our gaming portfolio, and even more projects will be released in 2024-2025.

That's why new wonderful guys joined the company (from testers to producers).

This is why we will also be even more actively looking for new excellent projects on the market.

We continue to explore "R&D sandboxes" in related market segments, as always. And we know exactly how to scale them if successful.

We will continue to make a limited number of premium casual games for PC, so the memes about the "gone era" in connection with the closure of our casual Alawar Digital storefronts are just hyperbole.

We will be 25 years old next year. During this time, the company has changed a lot from the inside, without changing its principles – openness, honesty, relevant global competence, responsibility and focus on synergy with partners.

We are perfectionists. All these years we have been working on ourselves, trying to be the best version of ourselves.

It will continue to be so.

Thanks to those with whom we have already worked, who helped the company grow at various stages, and we hope we will work with the rest!

All flying projects and high receipts! happy New year!

Claire's Cruisin' Cafe Fest Frenzy

Clair’s Cruisin’ Cafe: Fest Frenzy