Michail Katkoff described important mechanics of retention, virality, and monetization in the mid-core genre during Casual Connect Kyiv 2013.
Michail Katkoff has recently joined Scopely as Director of Product Management, where he works with developers in all phases of the product development cycle. Since some developers are closing to a soft launch, some are in pre-production phase and others are out with a live product, his contribution varies depending on the product phase. At different times, he is building game economy and core loop, going through numbers and reviewing traffic performance, optimizing user flows, or putting together user tests to see how the current build performs with real users. He says, “I get to do daily the tasks a normal product manager would do during a year—and that’s awesome!”
Family Support for Sega
Katkoff’s fascination with games began as a very small child. When he was only five years old, his family moved to Finland and immediately made a huge sacrifice to give him a Sega, which he feels was an investment that has proven immensely valuable. Without a background in programming or art, he didn’t realize he could have a career with the games industry. But in 2010, he discovered an opening for a Product Manager with Digital Chocolate, applied, and was excited to get the position. While there, he developed, managed, and launched Facebook games. Two years later, he joined Rovio, leading games monetization, and then Supercell as Product Manager for Clash of Clans and later Partnership Lead, building the business side of games. He emphasizes, “My experiences at Supercell and Rovio have given me a unique window into everything that goes into scaling a mobile game into a global success.”
Attacking Social Games
The most gratifying time of Katkoff’s career was the launch of his first game, Army Attack. He found the road to that moment long and filled with doubts as he thought over and over that the project would be killed. He states, “When it was finally launched and we saw really good numbers coming in, I was extremely proud.”
Agile Not Just for Development
When Katkoff joined Supercell and was asked to do business development rather than building games, he experienced his greatest challenge. He responded by creating targets and establishing a strict timeline for reaching these targets. He explains, “Basically, I created a mini SCRUM for myself with two-week sprints.”
Katkoff revels in the pace of the games industry as it evolves and grows at enormous speed. He points out, “What worked a year ago just doesn’t move the needle anymore. You have to be learning and evolving all the time to stay ahead of the game.” And this is what keeps him in the business.
Rising Production Value on Mobile
When not involved with work, he indulges his love of sports, especially mixed martial arts, and is at the gym daily. He also enjoys listening to Rap for the confidence boost it gives him. No wonder he describes himself as driven!
When considering the future of the games industry over the next few years, Katkoff emphasizes the importance of mobile devices, with high level production hitting the market as soon as smartphones are able to run them. He doesn’t expect console-type gaming to be a big factor on mobile. Instead, he claims, “We’ll be seeing more of the deeply engaging casual titles that conquer the hearts of the vast majority of people who don’t consider themselves as players.”
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.