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Elena Grigorian: Cyprus’ geographical advantage provides companies with seamless access to diverse markets

“The industry is currently at a critical juncture, facing not only increased competition from other entertainment products but also needing to pivot its targeting strategy due to tightening regulations around privacy and advertising,” suggests Elena Grigorian, CEO, MY.GAMES.

The CEO of the company behind titles including Rush Royale and War Robots was speaking to GOLD magazine as part of a cover story featuring 18 of the top gaming developers based in Cyprus. Grigorian also shared her view on why gaming companies are choosing to set up shop on the island and suggested the steps necessary to further develop Cyprus as a thriving gaming industry hub.

How did the focus on developing games for different platforms, spanning almost all genres, come to define your strategy?

MY.GAMES has a very diversified portfolio that spans the mobile, PC and console platforms. This has always been a key focus of our development strategy and provides us with a strong competitive advantage. Our expertise across all popular gaming platforms provides us with deep knowledge of the best strategies to optimise game performance and helps us create the best experience for players. MY.GAMES unites a dozen in-house development teams that constantly experiment and innovate with different genres and platforms, enabling us to develop top-tier products that capture the hearts of millions worldwide.

Walk us through your most successful titles. And what would you say makes a successful game?

We have more than 50 titles in our portfolio and many of our mobile products, such as Rush Royale and War Robots, have topped their respective genres. This year, War Robots, a third-person mobile shooter, celebrated its ninth anniversary, remaining one of the world’s most popular tactical mobile shooters on the App Store and Google Play, with over 250 million registered users. Rush Royale, a PvP tower defence mobile game, is our fastest-growing title. Launched in 2020, it leads the Tower Defence genre for the second year in a row and has over 73 million installs, according to market analytics company data.ai. There are a couple of key principles involved in creating a successful mobile game. First, the game should offer exciting and intuitive gameplay with addictive mechanics, while maintaining high-quality, consistent graphics. Second, regular content updates are crucial in helping grow community engagement and creating a loyal player base. Finally, you should have an effective marketing strategy alongside strong data analytics that enable you to make continuous tweaks and improvements to the game.

Over the past five years, the games market has witnessed substantial growth, reaching US$187.7 billion in 2023 and is projected to hit US$212.4 billion by 2026, with mobile gaming taking the lion’s share. What major factors have fuelled the industry’s growth, particularly in mobile gaming?

The gaming industry has grown significantly over the past two decades, becoming a major sector within the wider entertainment market. Over the same period, the industry has undergone a series of transformations, including a shift away from PC dominance to the rise of mobile games. The growth of mobile gaming can be attributed to smartphone accessibility, advances in mobile hardware and software and innovative game design with cross-platform play becoming prevalent. Despite its historical resilience to economic turbulence, the gaming industry faces challenges due to the economic downturn in developed markets. The emergence of alternative, more affordable forms of entertainment, particularly via photo, video and music apps, has impacted the gaming industry. Download numbers for non-gaming applications, particularly in those categories, have surged.

How have privacy rules, such as the EU’s GDPR and Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers, impacted your operations, and how have you adjusted to them?

The industry is currently at a critical juncture, facing not only increased competition from other entertainment products but also needing to pivot its targeting strategy due to tightening regulations around privacy and advertising. This is an interesting time to be working in the games industry, as we are required to be increasingly creative in our marketing and production strategies. We are learning how to work with a mass, non-targeted audience and how to unite our gaming experience with other forms of entertainment products.

In recent years, several mobile game companies have relocated to Cyprus. What factors have driven this migration?

Cyprus has become an increasingly attractive destination for mobile game companies due to its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. This geographical advantage provides companies with seamless access to diverse markets, facilitating international business operations. Moreover, the nation’s business-friendly environment, marked by supportive regulatory policies and various government initiatives, has contributed to its appeal as a relocation choice. Additionally, Cyprus boasts a thriving industry ecosystem, providing abundant networking opportunities, collaboration possibilities and access to potential partners.

What specific changes – in terms of policy, infrastructure development or any other area – do you believe are essential to bolster Cyprus’ growth as a hub for the industry?

There are several initiatives that we see as important to further developing Cyprus as a thriving hub for the gaming industry, including policy reform and infrastructure development. First and foremost, a comfortable working environment for developers must be ensured and we are pleased to see that there are currently active discussions on a law governing the employment of foreign IT workers on the island, aimed at streamlining and facilitating their work in Cyprus.

(This interview first appeared in the January edition of GOLD magazine. Click here to view it.)

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