Recently Castle Clash, which remains to be heading grossing apps at Google Play for the last three years, got VK integration. App2Top talked to Timofey Fadeev, a Brand Manager of IGG, about the deal and the game itself.
Hi! I’m sure that Castle Clash: A New Era is widely known by the ones who at least is somehow interested in mobile games. It was in the Top-10 by grossing at Google Play in the United States for two years. But could you tell more about the company and a few words about the history of the game?
Hi! The company was founded in 2006. It is based in China, which is not a secret I assume.
It began as a browser games developer (incl. Galaxy Online and Dawn of Darkness), then switched to mobile and launched Castle Clash.
Well the main inspiration was Clash of Clans, but today they are completely different games. There are some visual similarities, but the mechanics have nothing in common. We emphasize on the heroes, while Clash of Clans – on army forces.
Just after the release the game became incredibly popular – first in the US, then in Europe and Russia. The project is running for three years already, we have just celebrated its third anniversary, its Birthday.
After the Castle Clash release, the company started to launch other mobile products, and as we started to grow rapidly, we published in Hong Kong. Overall, everything just went well.
As you pointed, Clash of Clans became the inspirer. When the project was just released, there had been no similar games, the competition had been low. How has it changed so far? Did it become tougher to compete with products within this niche?
No, it’s not. I believe we firmly took our niche. No real rivals are around (at least serious ones we should pay attention to). That’s why I can’t say there is a big competition for us. Nevertheless, there are more and more strategies on the market. Just look at the Russian top grossing games both on Google Play and App Store where Mobile Strike and Game of Wars are, but they are way different projects.
Let’s talk about integration with VK. Tell me if I’m right, initially there were two options of integration – through login which a player enters at the first session and which IGG ID connects to, and through Facebook?
The main is not Facebook but Google. We attach an account to Google Mail and it stays as the main connection. We added VK, as Facebook, for social features. In addition, we added VK in order to be listed in the social network catalog.
Talking about Facebook integration. Was it popular in the U.S. or Russia?
In States – yes, absolutely, but not in Russia.
Our target audience is young people; we have lots of students. Of course, we got some adults, but mainly the audience is way younger than the ones on the Russian Facebook. That was the reason why it was strategically important to link the game with VK support.
Are integrations with Facebook and VK identical or VK has some kind of unique technology?
They are pretty similar. To be honest, I am not sure whether we are in a Facebook catalog or not as it’s on behalf of the American office. But there are no fundamental differences – both have the same SDK mechanics (possibility to link an account, open a community page, invite friends and so through the button inside the game).
Castle Clash case is unique as the project has been staying in the Top-3 grossing apps on Google Play for the last three years. Does it make sense to integrate the game with VK when everything goes so well
There is no limit to perfection. You always want to grow. Especially taking into account that VK is the main social network in Russia and the CIS. There are no alternatives. Of course, you might think of OK.ru but there is a different audience. In addition, VK is constantly developing a gaming platform.
When I met Maxim Babichev and he showed me around the office, we discussed prospects and decided that it would be win-win story. Especially because integration wasn’t strengths and time consuming. So, why not?
But you pointed on your Facebook page that it took you two years to come up with a deal.
Seems it took Maxim Babichev two years to reach the headquarter, while there was no Russian office. It was challenging with China as the company is huge. It might be so that negotiations went too deep and the target was never achieved. Then me and Russian office, which are responsible for that, appeared. Just after we met, it was in August, everything started to work. It became easier because we got an opportunity to contact directly. I was managing all the integration processes.
How long does the Russian office exist?
One and a half years. Apparently I am one of the first employees of IGG in Russia. It will be two years in February since I’m here.
Today there are 15 versions of the game on Android. Why are there so many?
Why are there so many clients? Initially we decided to build a model where every country has its own client, own server, own operations and that each office could launch updates and special offers for a certain region as well as being responsible for technical support.
Same like is with Russia. It looked easier. Our Castle Clash has own client and server, we are free to do whatever we think is efficient. We hold unique promotional events that are not on the global server. For instance, for assigned to the Victory’s Day or other local holidays and occasions.
How many people work for the Russian Castle Clash?
Not that many. The whole team in Russia is 16 people including technical support. But the team is spread among many projects. There are three-four people responsible for Castle Clash precisely.
By the way, you might have observed the behavior of gamers from other countries. How different is it from Russian one?
Players are really different. Talking about Asian gamers, they are very impulsive fellows who adopt the content fast with bringing lots of money and coming to the top. They, compared with our or Chinese players, have very short LTV. Coming into play very fast and reaching the top with huge money, they just lose the interest.
How does the average Russian player of Castle Clash look like?
It is hard to find an average one. We had three meet-ups in Russia: two in Moscow and two at ComicCon in Saint Petersburg, where we had booths and met players. They are totally different. There are some adults at their 50s, who play the game, who have an alliance and who enjoy it, as well as there are students. Very different types of people.
Of course, looking at the VK group where we have almost 300k followers, there are mostly young gamers. But Castle Clash has many players of different age.
I am asking this because there is a belief that VK audience is non-paying one. But taking into account that you focus particularly on this audience and your grossing results are really high, it seems that this belief does not meet the reality.
Yes, I cannot agree that VK has non-paying audience. I also used to think so but it is opposite on the practice.
The last question: what exactly do you expect from VK and if there are first results, metrics, growth of something after Castle Clash was listed on VK’s platform?
So far it has been less than a week since we launched there. It is too little. We even have not been featured, just staying in a schedule queue. So it is early to make any conclusion. We do not expect any certain numbers, everything goes within an experiment. We are just trying.
Thank you for the interview!