When marketing a game in a foreign country, there are many factors that could cause a game’s lack of success, especially when trying to replicate the success of an Eastern title in a more “Westernized” market like Russia. Genres like ARPG (Action RPG), are not as popular as Strategy games, which usually dominate the top grossing in the country. But for GTarcade’s game Legacy of Discord – Furious Wings, that’s a totally different case: the game has been a huge success in Russia and sits regularly in the top 10 Grossing, stationing at the top 3 last week, above strategy titles like Game of War and Clash of Kings, according to App Annie. An astonishing ARPG (Action RPG) game with stunning graphics, the title offers a wide range of dungeons, PVP arenas, and guild wars, with controls incredibly smooth and intuitive, unlike most games of this genre. The game, according to Shanghai Business Wire, has been named the “Ultimate ARPG”.
Rebound Mobile had the opportunity to interview Wanqin Liu, Vice President of Youzu Interactive and Head of GTarcade, who shared with us the story behind their success and experience with Legacy of Discord – Furious Wings in the Russian market. GTarcade is the global publishing platform of Youzu Interactive, a leading developer and publisher of free online games. We discovered some interesting insights of the Russian market and how this Chinese game developer managed to successfully break into the top 10 Grossing with an ARPG title.
Rebound Mobile: Why did you decide to promote your game in Russia? What did appeal to you about this market? Lower CPI, emerging and less saturated market, etc?
Wanqin Liu: Russia has emerged as one of the world’s major game markets. There are 72 million Russia gamers. The Russian games market has contributed $1.4 billion in 2016, according to Newzoo. Also lower CPI and a less saturated market are very important reasons.
Multiple Gaming Modes such as Ice Battle, Blood Battle, PVP Combat and GVG Combat suit Russian players perfectly (Image Credit: GTarcade)
When we decide to promote one of our games in a new market, we need to find out whether the game matches the peculiarities of the target market. As for the Legacy of Discord: Furious Wings, the game offers multiple gaming modes including Ice Battle, Blood Battle, Treasure Battle, PVP Combat and GVG Combat, which suit Russian players perfectly. Players can unlock new copies when certain levels are reached and fight shoulder by shoulder with over 50 fellow comrades in massively alliances battle.
Rebound Mobile: What do you think are the main challenges or peculiarities of the Russian market?
Wanqin Liu: In the Russian market, Android platform takes a high percentage of users, so “how to get android players” is one of our main focuses. Generally, Russian players like games related to “ABC”: “Action, Battle, and Competition.” These games are more easily to get the likes of Russian players.
Action, Battle, and Competition Games Are More Easily to Get the Likes Of Russian Players (Image Credit: GTarcade)
Users are fond of SLG (Strategy Games) and ARPG (Action Role Play Games). Popular games in the Russian market includes Clash Royale, Vikings, Game of War, Legacy of Discord, etc. Strategy and role-playing games account for almost 60 percent of the market share. Top games and publishers are very stable, with not drastic changes in the top grossing. This creates more challenges for new publishers, who must spend plenty of time and energy in the early stage.
Rebound Mobile: What channels did you use when marketing Legacy of Discord in Russia? What is the users’ ratio between Russian versus foreign ad networks? How many ad networks are there who drive traffic in Russia?
Wanqin Liu: In Russia, we use VK, Yandex, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other advertising channels, over 400 in total. Unlike other Western countries, Facebook is not the most popular social media in Russia. Most of Russian game traffic comes from local social media such as Vkontakte (VK) and Odnoklassniki.
Rebound Mobile: How do you evaluate the monetization behaviour of Russian players towards Legacy of Discord? Does it take longer to break even in Russia if compared to Western markets, or the U.S. where the game generates most of the revenue?
Wanqin Liu: As they are influenced by the exchange rate, Russian players spend less for in-app purchases, which is about a quarter of what United States players would pay, and a third of the European players. But we believe Russian market has a room for a larger-scale development.
Top 10 Grossing in Russia For Android: Legacy of Discord Was Sitting at the Top 3, Above Game of War and Clash of Kings Last Week (Image Credit: App Annie)
Rebound Mobile: Could you compare the LTV of Russian market to other Western markets?
Wanqin Liu: We can refer this to the previous question: there is a difference among the retention ratios in these countries and, therefore, the LTV of Russian market is about a quarter or a third of other Western markets.
Rebound Mobile: What is the percentage of the Russian revenue compared to other markets like US or UK?
Wanqin Liu: Russian revenue accounts for 6%. At the moment, the United States is still the most important source of revenue for our game, accounting for up to 30%.
Rebound Mobile: How important was localization when promoting your game in Russia? Did you do any test before localizing the game or did you localize it from scratch?
Wanqin Liu: About 80% of Russians speak only Russian, therefore the publishers who want to enter the Russian market should translate their mobile games into Russian first. GTarcade chose a local translation company to perform the translation work, with English-speaking Russian translators. In addition, the developer team has adapted its plot and art design to the Russian market to suit the local cultures.
Legacy of Discords offers 14 language versions such as English, German, French, Russian and Spanish (Image Credit: GTarcade)
During the localization process, GTarcade’s in-house experts will conduct quality progress checks throughout every delivery phase. Youzu Interactive is always striving to localize the game in different markets. Currently, Legacy of Discords has 14 language versions such as English, German, French, Russian and Spanish.
Rebound Mobile: When producing creatives for the marketing campaigns, how would you briefly summarize the differences when producing creatives for the Chinese market and the Russian market?
Wanqin Liu: We have different priorities about marketing plans. In Russia, we emphasize game features related to battles and guilds when producing creatives. We want to keep “massively alliances battles” as a relatively high exposure to the local players, and our marketing campaigns will continuously show this by customized materials. Besides, we need to find local influencers to cooperate with. In the Chinese market, we will show all features of the game more evenly.
It’s worth mentioning that we are keen to create marketing campaigns through the cooperation between different industries, providing our players with a great user’s experience. In China, Legacy of Discord has cooperated with Want Want Holdings Limited, the largest rice cake and flavoured drinks maker in Taiwan. We are always looking for ways to partner with enterprises and institutions around the world when advertising our game.
Rebound Mobile: Given your experience, is it worth to enter the Russian market, and why is it so?
Wanqin Liu: Russia is currently holding a high priority in the global games industry. It is always worth to enter in such a vast market. As we have talked about previously, there are reasons such as lower CPI, and Russia as emerging and less saturated market. But it’s important to note that it depends greatly on the type of games. Games which includes PVPs, GVGs or something similar to these gameplays will have more opportunities in Russia. Russia is a very idiosyncratic market, and publishers who want to enter it must be familiar with the market’s preferences.