The names of Mikhail Shagin, Dmitry Viktorov and Alexei Kalinin may not tell you anything if you are not an avid gamer, but one thing is important to know about the guys: their games are bought in the App Store and Google Play from Mississippi to Yellow River. And in this there is no miracle, it helped, rather, as a rule, as in the cartoon "Soul" - to find a passion and follow it. But first things first.
The future founders of the indie studio Fiftytwo met at their previous place of work - in an IT company that was developing multimedia software: video and audio converters and YouTube downloaders. We became friends quickly - out of love for games and decided to create our own. “At first we worked on weekends, then they began to devote holidays to development, and soon they quit altogether, rented the first office,” the guys recall.
There were several projects in the work at once: a matter splitter, in which it was proposed to break objects until you reach elementary particles, hidden objects in the beard (rummage in the beard until you find all the objects), Mr. Eps, in which it was necessary to control something similar to a sperm, and the alphabet was a complex toy: a separate mini-game was created for each letter of the alphabet. The developers reached the letter E, and then Alexey proposed to connect the letters - this is how the prototype of the first hit game arose.
“We visited the Mail.ru conference in Nizhny, showed the development to the lecturer. He replied: "Cool. What is the game about? It would be nice to add characters and a story," "explains Mikhail. So, in 2014, Fiftytwo debuted with Jellies! - an addictive game in which jellyfish bite off the fingers of a fisherman, and he goes in search of limbs. The player was asked to collect the maximum number of jellyfish and help the sailor advance on his journey. The developers say that they gave themselves complete freedom, registered a minor character - the sailor's wife - and even created his internal Instagram. Chinese, American and European gamers squealed with delight. But how did this happen?
“We were quietly posting our work on our Instagram,” the trio recalls, “and suddenly a dude from Los Angeles, who publishes and promotes games, wrote to the Direct. It was he who showed the jellyfish to the App Store team. " Jellyfish were torn off with their hands: the App Store not only posted the game on its platform, but also posted a banner with it on the home page. “This powerful feature provided 2-3 million downloads per week,” the Jellies fathers rejoiced! And the colorful jellyfish themselves, one might say, provided their creators with a VIP pass to the holy of holies of the developers of games for smartphones - the App Store and Google Play.
In 2017, Mikhail, Alexey and Dmitry, who had not previously communicated directly with the App Store team, arrived at a one-to-one meeting to present the second development to the Russian Apple team - the Kenshō puzzle. “When colleagues saw jellyfish from Jellies on Misha's case! and, being surprised that we are the authors of a popular game, they sent us to a kind of business hall for established developers, the conversation began to stick much better, "the friends chuckle.
The second game also went off with a bang: the guys published it just in time for the global redesign of the App Store, which, of course, attracted new users. One of the new features was the "Game of the Day" tab, where Kenshō organically fit. Trinity believes that it is very important to keep track of platform and company updates: the game should use all the capabilities of the new processor, screen, and so on.
When asked how games are monetized, Fiftytwo answer succinctly: the site keeps 30% from each user payment. “It's cool that Apple recently introduced a support program for small studios. According to its terms, the commission is reduced to 15% if the studio earns up to $ 1 million per year."
© Konstantin Chalabov
"By the way, Apple introduced a new rule after the Fortnite scandal and the accusations of Pavel Durov," the developers add. Recall that in 2020, Epic Games, which released the most popular game Fortnite, fell out with Apple and Google when it tried to provide an opportunity for players to make in-game in-game purchases directly through Epic Games, so as not to give Apple some of the profit from user payments. At the same time, Pavel Durov criticized Apple for the monopoly due to the high commission in the game application.
Be that as it may, the App Store for Nizhny Novgorod craftsmen is a long conquered peak. For two years, the guys made their way to Apple Arcade, a game subscription service, a kind of Netflix for gamers. The threshold for entering there is quite high: the application takes only 150 games - the competition is worse than when applying for commerce at MGIMO. But the game is worth the candle: along with the coveted place in Apple Arcade, developers get huge recognition, visibility, they no longer need to persuade users to buy their games or rely on a tab on the home page.
“If your game is on Apple Arcade, it will definitely be played. The service will also recommend it to users interested in similar games,”the guys explain. Of course, the advent of subscription services in the gaming world (Google Play Pass, Playstation Plus, and XBox's Game Pass besides Apple Arcade) have changed the rules dramatically, just as Spotify changed the music business and Netflix changed the film industry. Although platforms favor time-tested franchises like Sonic X and SpongeBob, developers have begun to move from mainstream games and blockbusters to casual, niche ones - with curious gameplay and interesting design.
So Fiftytwo jumped into Apple Arcade with the outlandish runner Populos Run, in which a group of people dodge a giant fast food. “Initially, we wanted to make social sketches,” the guys put on the shelves. - Move the crowd during rush hour, recreate the crowd's foray into storefronts on Black Friday, poke fun at the runner and grower trend. In the end, only the last idea was left. But the trick is not so much in the idea as in the mechanics: in a typical runner, the player jumps between three lanes and runs strictly straight (for example, as in Subway Surfers. - "RBK Style"). In our country, the crowd runs as you please, everyone falls and shouts. Fun".
When asked what other mechanics or trends in general are popular in games for smartphones, Fiftytwo cuts off: they don't chase fashion, they don't look for new chips on purpose, they don't even calculate KPIs and don't study statistics. “We are independent, we do as we like. We publish games as for ourselves,”Mikhail smiles.
© press service
Confidence in their own taste led the three friends to the second peak. But this is not the limit: the plans are at least to repeat the success of the London studio ustwo games and release a cult game that goes far beyond themed services (in Monument Valley - the ustwo games puzzle - played by Kevin Spacey in the series "House of Cards"). The guys also dream of bringing BAFTA (British Academy Award in the field of video games) and Apple Design Award to Nizhny Novgorod. Judging by Fiftytwo's lightning-fast development and dedication to the cause, these goals will soon materialize.>