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Exclusive InterviewsIndie

Global Game Jam Ukraine 2017

March 31, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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There’s nothing quite like the intensity and excitement of forty-eight hours of working together to create a new game. Ask any participant in a game jam. Then, at Global Game Jam, multiply that excitement with the knowledge that teams are doing the same thing in centers around the globe.

2017 was the second year for Global Game Jam Ukraine. It is a partner event with Indie Prize where certain winners are given the opportunity to compete at a Casual Connect and Indie Prize of their choice. Recently Casual Connect asked Oleksii Izvalov, Regional Organizer in Eastern Europe for Global Game Jam, about the event. He described the incredible feeling that came from seeing game developers from every part of the country gathering together to make a game.

Kyiv 2017Video Coverage

Keren Yehiel: An Algorithm for Better Marketing | Casual Connect Video

March 4, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Keren Yehiel is a Client Development Manager at Bidalgo where she manages SaaS clients. Bidalgo is an official marketing partner of Facebook, Google, Snapchat and Pinterest. Keren came to Bidalgo from the marketing industry. She was looking for work in a market-leading company that offered the opportunity to develop personally and professionally. At Casual Connect Kyiv, Keren discussed the seven commandments for social casino creative.

USA 2018Video Coverage

Anatoly Ropotov: Esports and Mobile | Casual Connect Video

March 3, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Are you a developer interested in the esport sector of the game industry? And, especially, do you want to expand the audience for your game? Could esports attract casual gamers while at the same time interesting pro-gamers and esports enthusiasts? These are difficult questions for developers; casual gamers and pro-gamers are at opposite ends of the gaming spectrum.

Anatoly Ropotov, CEO of Game Insight, has some solutions. Game Insight is one of the world’s leading mobile games companies. It was the first company to develop hidden object and tycoon games for social networks and mobile platforms and has since developed unique game experiences in a variety of genres. As CEO, Anatoly leads partner and platform relations and is also closely involved with game development, leading key games for the company.

Game Insight demonstrated the advantage of using a mobile-first mindset with the development and successful release of Guns of Boom, which solved the problem of creating a first-person shooter for touchscreens. Now they have turned their attention to making esports for smartphones.

At Casual Connect USA 2018 Anatoly presented the session Bringing Esports to Mobile. In it he shared his insights into creating a mobile esport game that will satisfy casual gamers as well the intense esport enthusiasts. To learn more be sure to watch the video of this exciting session.

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Asia 2017Video Coverage

Stanislav Sychenkov: Monetization in Emerging Markets | Casual Connect Video

September 22, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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Stanislav is Head of Publisher Development at myTarget (Mail.Ru Group)

If you are a developer of mobile games, monetization is your constant concern; it is critical to your success. And it will be harder for you to monetize in some markets than in others. Emerging markets may be a particular struggle for you. So, what do you need to do to be successful in these markets?

Stanislav Sychenkov, Head of Publisher Development at myTarget, is someone who knows these problems and can give you valuable information. Mail.ru launched myTarget, a mobile monetization platform. It is now a main traffic source for advertisers in Russia. Before coming to Mail.ru, Stanislav was responsible for ad monetization in Zeptolab, the creators of highly successful games such as Cut the Rope and King of Thieves.

At Casual Connect Asia Stanislav used the example of Russia to provide insights into successful monetization in the more challenging markets. From their experience they developed several principles that they and their partners all over the world are using. By doing these things differently they are enabled to increase their profitability. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to use these same principles be sure to watch the video of Stanislav’s full session.

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To read more about Stanislav’s career and views, see this exclusive article and presentation from Casual Connect Europe 2016.

EventsNews

Eastern Europe at Indie Prize Tel Aviv 2016

October 12, 2016 — by Yuliya Moshkaryova

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The international Indie Prize showcase for independent developers will take place on Nov 1-3, 2016 in Tel Aviv. Sixty games from 21 countries were provided with Indie Prize scholarship by Casual Connect and will be showcased at Habima Square during three days from 9 AM to 5 PM. Eastern Europe will be represented with Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia.

Two games will represent Czech Republic at Casual Connect Tel Aviv: Planet Nomads developed by Craneballs and Take Cover developed by Gamajun Games.

Europe 2016Video Coverage

Tal Shoham: It’s Always About Relationship Building | Casual Connect Video

April 4, 2016 — by Catherine Quinton

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'Monetization strategy should be embedded in the initial planning and design of the app.' - Tal ShohamClick To Tweet

The pervasiveness of mobile video among consumers and brand advertisers alike has publishers at the edge of their seats. In this session, Tal Shoham, VP International Business Development for Supersonic by ironSource, revealed why video has become the ad format of choice for app developers, as well as the emerging market trends that support its growth. One thing that we have seen is that “adding video ads also increased IAP by 50% in Upopa games”, shared Tal during a recent talk at Casual Connect Europe. The talk further outlined the key benefits and metrics behind video monetization, and demonstrated how developers can leverage this increasingly popular format to maximize ad revenue.

Europe 2016Video Coverage

Arnold Nesis: Join the Revolution! | Casual Connect Video

March 18, 2016 — by Catherine Quinton

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Metal Arnold Nesis
Metal Arnold Nesis

Throughout history, the role of music has changed from slave to master and back again, from the Greek chorus to opera and from films to musicals, as it combines with different forms of art. Arnold Nesis, an Israeli composer known for their work in video games and media, maintains that music is about to make that switch again in gaming. At Casual Connect Europe 2016, Arnold discussed why you will want to join that revolution and take part in this new gaming genre. Arnold asks, “How is your story told? Through the music? Through the gameplay? It’s not one or the other. A strong story is told through the music, the images, and the gameplay.” Blending these together gives you the look, sound and feel of a feature film; this is the wave of the future!

Arnold has worked with companies in the United States, Europe, Russia, and the Ukraine and is the CEO of Capricia, making interactive music videogame albums. To learn more about this new gaming genre watch this video of the presentation.

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For more about Arnold Nesis, see this exclusive article on gamesauce.

Europe 2015Video Coverage

Ivan Slovtsov on the Unpredictability of Game Design | Casual Connect Video

July 4, 2015 — by Catherine Quinton

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'Assess your skills and resources and use them wisely.'–Ivan SlovtsovClick To Tweet

Ivan Slovtsov spoke of Ice-Pick Lodge’s efforts to resurrect Pathologic, a game originally released in 2005. Pathologic became a cult classic in Russia and gained a small but dedicated Western audience despite poor globalization and marketing at Casual Connect Europe. “We believe that Pathologic deserves a second chance. We want to make it again, from the ground up, and we want to release it properly this time.” Watch the video below to find out what Ice-Pick Lodge learned the second time around.

Exclusive Interviews

Gazillion’s Stuart Moulder on being a product person, loving casual and what two decades of expertise can get you

January 5, 2011 — by Vlad Micu

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Stuart Moulder
After almost a decade of being in executive and managerial positions at companies like Microsoft, WildTangent, Screenlife and most recently Gazillion Entertainment, industry veteran Stuart Moulder is now traveling the world in search of a new challenge. “If I was a corporate, political kind of person, then that was right,” Moulder says about his previous positions. “But I’m a product person. I came into the industry because I liked games.” We sat down with Moulder during Casual Connect Kyiv to talk about his interest in casual games, how big franchises can wear you out and the value of Western game professionals in Eastern Europe.

Stuart <3 Casual

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Did you know? Korea once threatened to arrest the GM of Microsoft Korea. The reason being that the “history” used in Age of Empires for the Yamato (Japanese) campaign was derived from Japanese sources. It did not portray the historical events accurately, at least not from the Korean perspective.

In 2003, Moulder realized that he had very little opportunity at Microsoft  to have any real impact on the games he worked with, Moulder quickly considered finding a new challenge. After a year of ‘detoxing’ as a consultant, Moulder joined WildTangent full time. “They were a casual game company and that was pretty interesting to me.”

Probably because as I had gotten older and had a family, my own playstyle incorporated more casual game types. I think that hardcore gamers in their 30s and 40s are all pretty similar that, most of them want to be good parents and have a balanced lifestyle, and they don’t want to give up too much time for gaming.

Moulder believes casual games have been a great answer for gamers who’s lives have changed, but still have a passion for gaming. It later became one of the reasons Moulder got involved with Screenlife, who would later bring their Scene It? franchise to the Xbox 360 and several mobile phone platforms. Moulder moved over to Gazillion in 2009, but left the studio last summer because his job ended up being a lot like his previous position at Microsoft. “You have that amount of management responsibility, that the amount that you can affect game development is pretty modest,” he recalls. “The other thing that I was struggling with was that Gazillion was founded on the old online model of having a high concept or a great license and then building a rich Warcraft-like MMO.”

“Even when you do three-year games that are successful, it actually wears on you.”

Moulder soon found himself uncomfortable with that model and the estimated development times of two to three years per product. “But it’s usually four to five years or more,” Moulder says. “It didn’t feel like they were able to throw aside the work that they’ve done and shift gears to try and reinvent themselves.”

Now that the business aspect of monetizing online, social and casual games has become more developed, Moulder is on the hunt for potential partners. For a product-oriented person like himself, the idea of rapidly working out the core gameplay and marketing it quickly is golden.

Close Combat
Moulder: "When Microsoft decided to stop publishing the Close Combat series of games, we gave the rights to the series name to Atomic Games for free. Additional titles in the series were created and published subsequently without any obligation to Microsoft – an all too rare example of publisher magnanimity."

“You’re not stuck with the same for two, three or four years only to have it not be a success in the marketplace,” Stuart argues. Recounting his own motivation to orient himself to another direction, Moulder remembers recognizing the same kind of fatigue one can get from those kind of projects in the eyes of many developers he previously worked with at Microsoft.

“Even when you do three-year games that are successful, it actually wears on you,” Stuart says. “Part of why Bungie left Microsoft was that all Microsoft cared about was more Halo. The people who started on Halo in 1997 have been doing that same basic game for over ten years–in some cases, more than half of their lives. It’s hard to feel like you’re job is creative and innovative when you’re working on something for so long.”

XP points

Halo: Combat Evolved
Did you know? The hardware choices for the original Xbox to have a Nvidia GPU and Intel CPU were only finalized a week prior to the deadline that was set to reach the holiday period of 2001. The Intel choice was a last minute reversal of plans, which was imposed from above based on larger Microsoft/Intel relationship considerations.

Moulder’s search for the right partners has also led him to Eastern Europe on multiple occasions where many developers are very much interested in western developers for their expertise and experience. “Their games are a very solid top 10% kind of quality, but it’s definitely not that top 1%,” Moulder argues. “It’s like wine tasting, where there are people that taste wine and can really tell. […] I think the talent is there. What they need is people who can transfer that knowledge and can partner with them.”

According to Moulder, the expertise he and many other western industry professionals have acquired could play a key role for talented Eastern European developers to significantly improve their business. “It’s the polish, the tuning and the feel,” he says. “You can talk about it, but it does take a certain articulation beyond ‘it wasn’t fun’. That’s what twenty to thirty years of playing and developing games gets you.”

“Nintendo has done this in the past, where they’ve worked with a non-Japanese developer.”

Moulder admits to be surprised that Western publishers seem to rarely send experienced professionals and producers to provide assistance to their Eastern European partners. Having consulted several companies in the region himself, Moulder suggests more publishers should build on such a model. “Nintendo has done this in the past, where they’ve worked with a non-Japanese developer,” Moulder recalls. “The best-known one was Rare. They would bring them into Kyoto and Myamoto-san would have them in their shop as kind of apprentices if you will. They would take the game through its next stage of development in their environment. […] Rare could go back and could deliver that level of quality of their own.”

Carrying with him a wealth of experience in managing development teams behind big-budget titles, Stuart Moulder is but one of many industry veterans who have happily embraced the shift to more rapidly developed, iterative and smaller size projects in the casual and social game sphere. That shift has struck more and more developers all around the industry, who are now roaming the world in search of new projects to challenge them.

As for Moulder himself, he is currently doing full-time consulting at Gazillion’s Netdevil studio in Colorado, where he is working with the teams of both Lego Universe and Jumpgate Evolution.

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