At last week’s Game Developer’s Conference, Rixty‘s own CEO Ted Sorom moderated a panel on launching online games in emerging markets, where he was joined by five leaders in the online gaming industry: Victor Kislyi of Wargaming.net, Andreas Heyden of ProSiebenSat.1 Games, Lisa Bell-Cabrera of CCP Games, Alexander Samak of Gameforge and Mark Long of Meteor Entertainment.
Emerging markets provide publishers with the opportunity to reach new revenue and growth targets. This opportunity, however, comes along with unique challenges such as successful monetization, localization and customer support in new languages.
These experts joined us at GDC to discuss best practices and personal experiences in launching new games in international territories.
A pertinent question that kicked off the panel is how the various publishers define an emerging market. Generally, an emerging market is defined as nations with social or business activity in the process of rapid growth and industrialization. However, as became clear, definitions vary based on a publisher’s location and their varying goals as a company. For example, as Alexander Samak explains, Gameforge is headquartered in Germany, and thus classifies areas outside of Western Europe as emerging markets. Andreas Heyden included in his definition of emerging markets those countries with an underdeveloped internet infrastructure and payment options. For Wargaming.net, based in Russia, the US is considered an emerging market. In a broader sense, an emerging market can be considered wherever a new opportunity arises.
Ted Sorom also began a discussion on how publishers decide how and when to enter into a new market. When does it make sense to open a local office? Mark Long of Meteor Entertainment revealed that their team doesn’t open any local offices, but rather publishes direct to consumer. Their payment partners handle customer service with payment issues, and having an extremely stable cloud to host their game allows them to work well remotely. Similarly, Gameforge doesn’t open local offices in new territories, but rather they depend on reliable and established local partners to help them with resources, customer service, and other various localization challenges. Samak pointed out that before opening a local office, publishers shouldn’t assume that it’s the best option for everyone. Publishers should consider the pros and cons of going local, as some issues can arise; Samak gave the example of friction between main headquarters and the local offices. Heyden presented ProSiebenSat.1 Games’ “hybrid” model: they employ local representatives for sales, distribution and customer acquisition, while tech and business operations is done centrally in Germany. Localization clearly depends on each companies’ preferences, size, and access to resources.
Another key topic that was discussed was self-publishing. When does it make sense to self-publish, or when it is it in a developer’s best interest to work with a publisher? Several panelists pointed out that there is no way to overemphasize the importance of understanding the new market you will be launching in to plan strategically. In this sense, Andreas Heyden points out, it may be wise for developers to consider working with publishers who already have an established local presence, particularly with AAA titles that need the strong marketing push and distribution support. Games are also more likely to get more coverage through a publisher partnership versus self-publishing as they have an established distribution network and have self-interest in pushing a developer’s game to success.
The panel overall provided some key insights into how companies like Wargaming.net, ProSiebenSat.1 Games, CCP Games, Gameforge and Meteor Entertainment choose the right strategy for publishing games in uncharted territories. Ultimately developers will need to choose a distribution strategy that is cost-effective in accordance with their available resources, the audience they are hoping to reach and company goals.
To watch the full panel, click here. Looking forward to next year’s Game Developers Conference!