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Since December 2019, FreePlay has recorded more than 420 million downloads of its hyper-casual games, including Join Clash (developed by FreePlay and published by Supersonic Games), Counting the masters, and Fidget Toys Trade 3D.
CEO Evgeni Sidorov said in an interview with GamesBeat that FreePlay has grown rapidly and supports a team of dozens of developers who are testing new hyper-casual game ideas every few weeks.
Join Clash debuted in December 2019 and has recorded 135 million downloads this year and 280 million so far. Count Masters has over 100 million downloads since March and Fidget Trader has just crossed 40 million. These numbers are good enough to place the games in the top 10 most downloaded titles in several months in the past year. In August, Fidget Trading was the most downloaded game, according to measurement company AppMagic. Games often take off on their own in viral ways and generate revenue through advertising.
Other companies with success in super casual games include voodoo, Homa games, Cute, Rollic (Zynga property), SayGames, Azure games, and Supersonic Games. It’s no surprise that a few of these companies, like FreePlay, are based in Eastern Europe. The Games Fund estimates that more than 5,000 game studios are located in Eastern Europe, and the fund focuses its investments in this region. Minsk itself has several successful game companies such as Wargaming and Playrix. Belarus has seen political turmoil, but Sidorov said it didn’t disrupt the business at all.
And companies like Nexters, which just went public, are also focusing on acquiring companies in Eastern Europe.
Sidorov and a few of his game developer friends started the studio a few years ago. He had worked in mobile apps for years and moved to game studios in 2016. The initial studios were unsuccessful. They experimented with different approaches, different games and different genres. Then, in August 2019, he started to focus on hypercasual gaming and raised angel funds. They experimented for a while and formed teams in Belarus and Moscow. Sidorov liked to keep the team small.
Their first project that took off was Join Clash, which launched in December 2019. Supersonic Games released it and helped it grow. Join Clash has 280 million downloads to date. FreePlay has self-released its second hit, Count Masters.
“It was the first step in understanding how we could do something bigger,” Sidorov said. “We realized that we could make some really big mobile games. We made a lot of mistakes, figured out how to promote games, and learned how to make games.
Today, the company has more than 52 internal employees, with a mix of developers and marketers. A team of three people come up with a prototype, then it is tested. The testing period lasts about three weeks. If that doesn’t take off, the team moves on to a new idea. If it works, FreePlay can add up to 10 people to a team.
“We focus on the quality of the experience,” Sidorov said. “We constantly monitor trends and try to stick to the top positions in the market. “
To come up with the big three games, the company analyzed something like 15 to 20 ideas.
Over time, the company hopes to expand its presence into genres such as midcore games, which have hardcore themes but can be played in short sessions. The company hopes to acquire more studios and hire more people to work on its own projects.
“We put all of our soul into making the games, and that is the key to our success,” said Sidorov. “We really love what we’re doing. “
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