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It’s hard to believe that puzzles would be a defensible and significant source of revenue in mobile and PC games. But that’s how ZiMad built its foundation as a mobile game developer and publisher. It started in 2009 and now has more than 300 employees in 20 countries.
How the company is in acquisition mode, Chief Marketing Officer Aleksey Tishakov said in an interview with GamesBeat. The company also hires remote workers in the United States and Europe.
Based in Miami, the self-funded company’s most popular game is Magic Jigsaw Puzzles, which debuted in 2011 and has over 100 million downloads. Founders Dmitry Belotserkovskiy and Oleg Muza launched the company in 2009. In total, the company has over 200 million gamers across mobile, social, and desktop.
As a publisher, the company has had a variety of other successes, including My Museum Story, Dig Out, Domino Online, Magic Cross Stitch, Magic Color by Number, and Magic Solitaire. Each title took off because they had new gameplay experiences and mechanics and offered genre-exclusive content.
The success has led to partnerships with Sony Pictures, Disney, National Geographic, Pixar, Marvel, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, Tishakov said.
“We are developing and publishing our games and we are also deeply interested in the direction of acquisitions at this time,” Tishakov said. “So we are watching the market and trying to find new projects and new studios that would be interesting for us.”
The CEO is Dmitry Bobrov, who is based in Miami. The company recently opened an office in Serbia, where Tishakov is based, and several positions are open. Bobrov says having the right team with the right experience is half the challenge of making a successful game.
Magic Jigsaw Puzzles took off because it was one of the pioneers of mobile gaming at the time and now has the largest collection of digital puzzles in the world, the company said. The title is free to play with in-app purchases.
Magic Jigsaw Puzzles has remained on top as the company is constantly updating it with new content and adding new intellectual properties, such as Disney Pixar content. The content also appeals to another type of gamer, around the age of 50, who isn’t targeted as much as other demographics.
“It helps us differentiate ourselves from competitors and deliver unique content to our players,” Tishakov said.
The company also spends a lot of time spotting new trends and doing market research, researching niches and genres to add to its portfolio.
“We always observe trends and markets. We have a product marketing division, which is responsible for watching trends, seeing what’s coming, and being really flexible,” Tishakov said.
With the coronavirus, people are shopping a lot less. Ad monetization becomes difficult and therefore needs to be balanced with in-app monetization, Tishakov said. As for hyper-casual, it feels like the market is dying, he said.
“We never really worked with hypercasual games because when the trend started we analyzed it and realized it wasn’t for us because we were working on deeper products,” Tishakov said. “We work on projects that people have been playing for a long time, like Magic Jigsaw Puzzles. People have been playing for years.
And part of the answer, during a time of market weakness and stiff competition, is to focus on intellectual properties such as partners like Disney that the company works with.
The company saw the market for hypercasual games take off and then stagnate due to changes in the advertising market (Apple’s focus on user privacy rather than targeted ads). Tishakov saw this as one of the biggest changes of 2021, as he “seriously changed the layouts in ad monetization and buying traffic on the platform.”
He added, “But it gave us a clear view of what we need to (do by merging) the monetization models.”
This big shift highlighted the importance of diversification across platforms in pursuing casual gamers, as well as the need to look beyond ad-based business models. This means in-app purchases or subscriptions. It is also developing expertise in stores beyond iOS and Google Play.
“I would also like to note the gradual pressure on the platforms, which leads to a decrease in commissions for in-app purchases and subscriptions, as well as the emergence of new opportunities for the use of third-party billing,” Tishakov said. “This increases the importance of purchases in the lifetime value structure (including in our casual games niche). It is not difficult to predict that the pressure on the platforms in this context will increase, which should lead to further easing of the sector.
As with all mobile game companies, finding revenue in a crowded market will be ZiMad’s challenge. It will face platform changes and challenges in user acquisition. And there is increasing concentration as consolidation through acquisitions continues at a rapid pace. The company is considering its own acquisitions and expanding its publishing services into various stores.
In 2020, ZiMad was looking to acquire a casual game that would fit seamlessly into its board game portfolio. He acquired Domino Online and since then he has tripled the number of Domino Online players and increased his advertising revenue fivefold.
It encourages developers to focus on designing games for a target audience and testing the game frequently. To find and retain users, it must engage in app store optimization techniques, ad campaigns paid campaigns on all platforms and retargeting campaigns for better engagement. The company is starting to expand its network on TikTok.
All monetization methods are worked out in advance in the development of the game. The company is implementing more monetization models in some products. He is actively testing the subscription model for applications such as puzzles and coloring books.
“Other things we love are the combination of the quality of the product, its uniqueness, the connection between its features and the interests and motivations of gamers – making great games is always a good solution to any global problem – people like to play good quality games with their families, relieve stress and feel more relaxed,” Tishakov said.
The company has around five products in the pipeline, a couple that could launch in casual gaming markets in 2022. As it works with internal and external teams, it stresses that decisions aren’t made by a single boss, but rather by teams of specialists from a variety of key departments. Beyond the purchase of a product, the company will consider co-financing development, promotion and marketing services.
Regarding the recession, Tishakov said: “We face new challenges with courage, because we know that year after year we have assembled a team of market professionals who could be agile and flexible to face any change. of the market.”
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