Founded in 1999, Alawar Entertainment is a leading distributor of casual titles in Eastern Europe with over 200 casual PC games published globally. As Vice President of Strategy, Tatiana Chernova is responsible for the development of Alawar’s strategy, analytics, market research and the flow of information between the company divisions.
What made you decide to enter the game industry?
While studying for my second degree, I was looking for an opportunity that would allow me to work while studying. I couldn’t combine my studies with my work as a TV journalist. l was lucky to find a job as a translator at Alawar, where I could combine the two. Soon, I fell in love with the gaming industry. The people in it are creative and lots of fun to work with. Also, in the gaming world, there’s always something new to keep me on my toes.
How did your career in the industry begin? Did you face any difficulties?
In the gaming industry, you have a lot of room for growth. I know this from experience. As I mentioned above, I began work as a translator, a job I enjoyed, but I soon moved on to handling Alawar’s PR and then marketing communications. Two years ago, I became the company’s VP for Strategy. This year, I was put in charge of marketing as well. So to answer your question, I got into the industry because I could work and study at the same time, and everything grew from there. This also answers your question about the difficulties I have faced.
Gaming and Internet industries develop so rapidly, one must learn something new each day.
It is quite a challenge to be a “student” for so long. Not only do I get to hang out with amazingly creative people on a daily basis, but there are many life exams as well. There is not much time at all to just sit back and relax. I am constantly plugging away. This is the challenging part, but it suits me. I like the rhythm.
Why do you think Alawar Entertainment has been so successful?
We work with talented people – my colleagues, our brilliant developers and fabulous distributors. All of these people are pioneers in their domain. All of us bring something fresh to the industry. At Alawar, we aren’t afraid to experiment with new technologies, genres and kinds of agreements. Alawar is a dynamic and highly adaptable company capable of responding quickly to changes in the market. All of these factors have contributed to our success.
What makes Alawar Entertainment stand out in the video game industry?
Alawar combines both publishing and distribution. Also, we have a direct connection to our customers. Therefore, we can tap into their feedback and adjust our product to suit their needs and desires.
What challenges do developers face when preparing a game for the mobile market?
The market is very competitive. Developers and publishers release thousands of games monthly. Because the market is supersaturated with mobile games, developers must take into consideration everything from an original idea for a game to awesome graphics. Now, however, with the free2play trend that has taken over the market, developers can’t just create a game and then sit back and relax before moving on; they must constantly update the product. The game release is only one-third of everything they need to accomplish. This is why developers cannot only be developers. What I mean by this is that they must work hand in hand with publishers, or be self-taught in the ways of cross marketing, such as the acquisition of customers.
Basically, developers need to keep tabs not only on what is hot, what is selling and what customers want, but also on how and where to increase traffic, how to correctly market applications, etc. PC casual game developers previously didn’t have to consider these things.
What is “smart-porting”? How has it affected game distribution?
In the beginning, we ported games to mobile platforms without adjusting the gameplay. You can’t do that anymore. Smart porting is necessary in order to optimize a game for the platform on which it will run. The same game will differ slightly from platform to platform due to the differences between the devices and the specific modifications they require.
When you release not a simple port, but a project, the developers optimized for each individual platform, you sell more games.
Why is the social factor of games so important?
People like to socialize. They also like to compete, but not in an aggressive way, and they want to connect with others. Games allow people to feel they are not alone.
What new trends in the video game industry do you feel will be long-lasting? Why?
The free2play model is here to stay because there’s so much free content available, yet people are willing to pay for tokens and the like in order to progress in a game. They might not want to pay for an entire game, but they are willing to buy a few objects within a game that might help them to advance more quickly, especially when they’re already engrossed in the game. Premium models will also last, especially games based on brands.
Also, games are no longer just games. Games have morphed into much more. Today, you can buy T-shirts and other merchandise based on your favorite games. The era of mixed media is quickly approaching. Movies, books, games, cartoons, food and clothes – everything is converging into one industry.
People want to live and breathe their favorite games.
Cross platform gaming is another huge trend. Pick up an iPhone and have a go at your favorite game, and when it’s time for you to move to the PC, console or TV, you can pick up where you left off. No moment is lost. Technologically speaking, the industry is ready for sophisticated cross platform gaming.
What new products can we look forward to from Alawar Entertainment?
This year, we are planning to release over 200 new games on various platforms, including sequels to some of our most popular series, such as Farm Frenzy and Treasures of Montezuma. They will be available in both free-to-play and premium models on various platforms. We also are going to continue to work on our successful series such as Robber Rabbits, Shake Spears!, Stray Souls, etc. Stay tuned to our website, Twitter, Facebook and other applications for up-to-date information!