"The modern adult game market (especially its free-to-play segment) is similar to the mobile market in 2009," says Andrei Postnikov from Nutaku about the situation in the adult gaming industry

This is the second time this month we are addressing the topic of adult games. This time, in an interview format. We discuss the niche of "for adults" projects with Andrey Postnikov, Senior Business Developer at Nutaku.

Fap CEO

Andrey Postnikov — Senior Business Developer — Nutaku

Alexander Semenov, App2Top: Hey, Andrey! A couple of weeks ago, we released a roundtable on adult games, with your participation. Judging by the views, the topic interested our readers. So we decided to continue exploring the niche and talk to you about “for adults” games separately.

Andrey Postnikov, Nutaku: Hey, Sasha! Great idea. Let’s talk. But I must note right away that I cannot publicly disclose all the numbers. The information I can share publicly does not reveal the current market and products picture as a whole.

What prevents you?

Andrey: I associate the restrictions with four factors:

  • increasing competition;
  • the fact that all adult game distributors are private;
  • the small number of projects relative to the mainstream industry;
  • the fact that analytical services we rely on for evaluating the gaming industry (Sensor Tower, AppMagic, VG Insight) do not yet work in this niche.

It’s good that you mentioned the growing competition. We touched on this during the roundtable, but let’s talk about it in more detail now. What’s it like?

Andrey: It exists. Conducting a quick market research is quite simple. Just look at the number of NSFW releases since 2015 on Steam. Ten years ago, there were around 8-13 releases a year. Now, in the first half of 2024 alone, there have been over half a thousand such titles.

SteamDB NSFW, Sexual Content

SteamDB NSFW, Sexual Content, Free to Play

As for Nutaku, currently, we have about a thousand games on the platform. Most of them are premium titles. Speaking of free-to-play games, there are around a hundred.

On Erolabs, which focuses on distributing only free-to-play games, there are about 50 titles. Regarding regional platforms like dlsite.com and dmm.games, their active catalogs contain around 500 titles, of which no more than 30 are considered quality free-to-play titles.

I think the modern adult gaming market (especially its free-to-play sector) is close to mobile games in 2009.

Based on the SteamDB graphs you’re showing, it appears that most of these games historically belong to the premium format.

Andrey: Indeed, there are many more premium NSFW games in the niche than free-to-play ones.

However, the situation is changing, at least at Nutaku. I think this year will be a record for the platform in terms of the number of free-to-play releases.

Perhaps this can be associated with revenue growth. How much do top free-to-play titles earn here?

Andrey: In 2023, projects in the top-2 grossing on Nutaku could earn up to a million dollars per month (Gross Revenue). Today, I say this without the word “could”—they actually earn that much.

And if we're talking about average projects in the niche? Not everyone can be at the top.

Andrey: Of course, like in any store, the lion's share of revenue goes to top projects. We are no exception. However, on our platform, the difference in revenue volume depending on the top position grows much more smoothly than in the mainstream industry.

In terms of premium games, what’s the average circulation one can expect?

Andrey: I’ll be frank. At the moment, Nutaku’s focus has completely shifted to free-to-play.

And yet you have 800 premium games in your library.

Andrey: Yes, the platform currently has a large number of premium games, but, for example, I specifically work with free-to-play projects.

And you continue to publish premium games?

Andrey: It is still easy to launch a premium game on Nutaku, but you shouldn’t expect impressive earnings.

What about premium games outside your platform?

Here, you can use the widespread approach of "guessing" revenue by the number of reviews on Steam. But it's worth noting that the multiplier for NSFW projects is different from the average "hospital" rate.

The recent Steam feature “Hide a specific game for everyone” does not add transparency, although it lowers the "entry threshold."

What about traffic and buying it in the adult gaming market?

Andrey: It’s complicated, just like everywhere else.

I don’t think anyone will have a big problem finding out the CPM, CPA, and CPI of popular adult networks like Exoclick and Traffic Junky.

Frankly, I am not deeply immersed in this topic, as Nutaku has a lot of organic traffic. And its volume is growing. The average volume of organic traffic that each project receives at launch allows not only to make conclusions about performance but also enables developers to earn well without investing in UA.

How high is the average conversion rate to paying users?

Andrey: All questions regarding metrics of adult projects are complex.

Adult is a different audience that lives "by its own rules."

The only thing I can say is that we have a lot of "whales."

Alright, let’s not talk about marketing, let's talk about development. How much cheaper is it to create adult games and why?

Andrey: There are two approaches to developing an adult project:

  • “Adultification” of an existing mainstream project (creating an adult reskin);
  • Creating a project from scratch.

In both cases, development budgets are generally lower than in traditional game development. There are two reasons for this:

  • No restrictions on using AI, to which—importantly—the audience is quite loyal (this does not mean you can create low-quality content using public libraries);
  • It’s fairly clear what exactly the audience is willing to pay for, and the composition of the project is understood. Even a not very experienced game designer, after studying the current top 20 projects, will understand how everything works here.

You mentioned AI. Are you talking about generating images in some sort of Stable Diffusion?

Andrey: It's more complex.

First, studios independently develop their own AI tools in the direction of 18+.

Secondly, there are companies that offer their AI-tools as white-label. They have separate adult forks. Several studios, which release content with us, work with such tools.

Thirdly, when we talk about AI, we're referring to much more than just art. Games with real-time content generation have started to emerge. For example, this has already been implemented in the recent Temptations AI and Horny Legends. The initial results are more than encouraging.

What about the specific costs for development?

Andrey: It all depends on the project. I'll just say that a developer can adultify a game that hasn't performed very well in the mainstream market with poor conversion, and ultimately make several (sometimes dozens or even hundreds) times more on it. However, the opposite can also happen.

Speaking of game services, is there a difference in the amount of content needed for a free-to-play adult game versus a regular free-to-play game?

Andrey: Oh yes! The audience on adult platforms is very demanding when it comes to content volume. The speed of content consumption is much higher than that of mainstream audiences.

For this reason, most projects on Nutaku are launched not only with a detailed LiveOps plan but also with already prepared LiveOps content for at least 3 months from the launch. This is critically important!

I've heard that amid the mobile crisis, some developers have started looking at and even entering the adult game market. Is that true?

Andrey: I won't name anyone, but I can confirm this. It's a fact.

Remember, I mentioned that we expect a record number of releases this year? 70% of such projects are developed by studios known for mainstream games.

Do these teams create new products from scratch or just change the content?

Andrey: There are both reskins and projects made from scratch. Sometimes you see mixes where a project is created from scratch based on existing work.

In adult development, I often hear phrases like "we won't name any names." Companies involved in creating these games avoid publicity at all costs. Why?

Andrey: Companies with large mainstream projects don't announce the production of NSFW content to avoid extra attention from app stores. Everyone probably knows what moderation on these platforms is like. No one wants extra problems.

Let's not forget the legal aspects. The distribution of NSFW content is prohibited in certain regions. Therefore, companies are not eager to publicize their involvement in this area.

I've also heard that finding talent for creating adult games is challenging. Many professionals don't want to deal with this niche for psychological reasons, or because working on such a game in an open space is difficult, plus there’s a risk that family members might not understand. What are your thoughts on this?

Andrey: About open space — I don't know. I've been working in an open coworking space for a year, and everyone around seems to like it.

Regarding talent, the people I usually talk to either have already decided to try NSFW or have experience creating such content.

Honestly, I haven't encountered any strict moral barriers. It might be because Nutaku has strict policies regarding acceptable content.

However, it’s fair to note that finding an Art Lead who can professionally handle adult material is a big problem.

Lastly, what titles would you recommend to those looking to enter the adult game market?

Andrey: It's simple. Look at the top Nutaku games in the "normal state" (when there's no event/sale going on). The top is based on revenue.

Specifically:

  • Aeons Echo — an example of Asian development;
  • Lust Goddess — an alternative look at battlers by a European team;
  • Horny Villa — an example of using merge mechanics in the adult sphere;
  • Fap CEO — a classic clicker adapted to the NSFW genre (pay attention to the release date);
  • Sluts Inc. — a successful game that was very inexpensive to develop;
  • King of Wasteland — a full-fledged 4X strategy;
  • Hot Zone Survival — a very high-quality example of adultification;
  • Temptation AI — a dating simulator;
  • Horny Legends — a card project with an AI generating real-time content.

Thanks for the interview!

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