In this insightful interview with Nordcurrent CEO Victoria Trofimova, we explore the journey of Nordcurrent.
Can you tell us about Nordcurrent’s history and how the company has evolved since its establishment in 2002?
The first game we developed was Santa Claus Saves the Earth for Game Boy Advanced and later for PS2. Finding a publisher and seeing the game in a box and on the shelves in the store was very memorable and impactful. We’ve developed several games for other publishers, such as Shrek and Barbie. There were many challenges we had to face in the years to come. One of the major challenges was to move from being a developer for hire and begin developing and publishing our own games since this was always our dream. It was a huge risk, but we took it and together overcame this challenge. Since then, we have grown to a team of around 40 people. The second challenge happened due to a change in the market. When we first started, the games were sold in boxes. And then, suddenly revolution happened in the gaming industry, and the games were sold digitally. That changed our business model since we had to adapt to the sudden change. In 2009 we published 101 Games for mobile, and in around two weeks, we had 1 million downloads. It was the first very successful game that we developed and published. Since then, we have expanded by opening a second office in Warsaw and two studios in Ukraine. One in Odesa and one in Dnipro. After that, we developed many new games for mobile. Cooking Fever, Airplane Chefs, Murder in the Alps, Murder by Choice, Happy Clinic, Pocket Styler, and others. Our team has grown to about 250 people now throughout all offices.
We’ve expanded our operations significantly in 2022, welcoming 73 new colleagues across different offices. What were the reasons behind this expansion, and how do you envision it contributing to the company’s future growth?
We have released several new games in recent years. Their success dictates the conditions for the expansion not only of the development department but also of other teams – QA, Technical Support, Marketing, and User Acquisition – in order to maintain the balance. It’s like a vicious circle. As for the future, it is difficult to predict the pace of growth for the coming years, but we do not plan to reduce our ambitions and goals; our doors are always open to people who love and are passionate about games.
Our company heavily depends on a free or freemium business model. Therefore it relies heavily on indirect monetization models like ad revenue. Did the new privacy rules and applications on major app platforms negatively impact your monetization? How did you overcome these challenges?
First of all, the implementation of new privacy rules gives users more control over their data and limits the ability of advertisers to track and target individuals without explicit consent.
However, we have to adapt and overcome these challenges. Adaptation and flexibility are keys in navigating the evolving landscape of privacy regulations and monetization strategies. So, I believe that advertisers and mobile game developers can work together to create more engaging and non-intrusive ad formats that align with user preferences and comply with privacy regulations. This can help keep user engagement and potentially reduce the impact of ad revenue changes. For better outcomes in user retention and engagement metrics, we should improve and offer a high-quality user experience.
Also, we cannot ignore the importance of value generation. By focusing on delivering value to users, we can build a loyal user base that may be more receptive to ads or other monetization strategies.
Intrinsic in-game ads have played a significant role in Nordcurrent’s revenue growth. Could you provide more details about how integrating Anzu.io’s in-game advertising solution impacted Nordcurrent’s revenue, ARPDAU, and player feedback?
We’ve seen quite a positive growth in both revenue and ARPDAU since implementing Anzu’s API to our game. As for the player feedback – it can be considered neutral because our game designers worked very hard to pick the best placement for the ads to be seen clearly and unintrusive gameplay-wise. We’re collaborating with Anzu up to this day, trying new things, and adding more ad placements in the game and the game’s restaurants.
Apart from the impressive revenue growth, we’ve also experienced notable expansion by adding 73 new colleagues. Tell us more about the company’s growth and its impact on operations.
The company’s growth definitely has an impact on operations. As our existing teams expanded, we began to feel the need for new positions that we did not have previously, such as App Stores Administrator, Content Developer, Process Manager, DevOps Engineer, etc. The need for additional systems and work tools also contributed to all of this. We try to optimize our processes and operations as much as possible in order to achieve a smooth and high-quality workflow.
In a time the whole game industry became cautious, Nordcurrent seems to have a persistent focus on growth. Do you consider expansion as a fundamental element of your strategy, or is it a byproduct of your main strategy?
It is more of a byproduct of our goals and strategy. As we released more games and started working on new projects, the expansion was inevitable. We saw the need to grow our teams in order to ensure a smooth and stress-free workflow.
The game industry experienced a recession after a period of rapid growth. How did Nordcurrent manage to achieve remarkable growth and defy industry challenges, including a 42% increase in revenue in 2022?
As part of our strategic focus last year, we prioritized optimizing user acquisition while elevating the overall gaming experience. By introducing captivating new features and delivering fresh content, we achieved remarkable growth in profitability for these games. Furthermore, we take great pride in the enduring success of our flagship game, Cooking Fever, which continues to excel and captivate players even after eight extraordinary years.
Nordcurrent predicts moderate growth for 2023. What are the key factors or projects the company focuses on to achieve this growth, and are there any specific titles or initiatives you’re particularly excited about?
The company will concentrate on delivering more content and new features to our existing games. Four games that were launched in the last two years are in the growth phase, and all have large backlogs of content and features to be delivered. Ensuring that our most active players continue to be engaged and providing them with new experiences will be the base for the growth this year. Right, there are also new projects in the early development stage. However, it is too early to talk about their release dates.