"Now there is a unique situation where there are opportunities for another growth, which is extremely rare," Boris Sinitsky from Lesta Games about the main thing for 2022

We continue to sum up the results of 2022 together with top managers and experts of the gaming industry. Next up is an interview with Boris Sinitsky, the publishing director of the World of Tanks at Lesta Games.

What was the year for you personally, where are you now, were there any things that you finally managed to realize and are proud of?

This year turned out to be incredibly difficult, but very driving — although, it would seem, nothing foreshadowed what happened. Even “yesterday” I was preparing for the release of a completely new product, global plans for the announcement and launch of the project to a Western audience, and suddenly, before I could blink, I was already going to Minsk to get acquainted with a new team. This is the third move in my life. Moscow — Minsk — St. Petersburg — and Minsk again. This is the heart of the tank team, so despite all the anchors that appeared in St. Petersburg, now I am next to the team. This is a big and serious stress, but it is also a question of the survival of a product that has such a huge audience of devoted fans in Russia and Belarus. It is difficult to implement something big and serious in such a short period, but the main thing is that it turned out to keep what was left. I would like to say a huge thank you to our colleagues for their help and active participation in preserving the opportunity to play for the Russian audience. We have huge plans for the next year, we are actively working with players, opinion leaders and trying to move in the same direction. We help bloggers who have also suffered as a result of the events that have happened, have launched a support program for them (informational, financial), and are actively discussing the future of the project together.

What was the year like for the company? What have you done, implemented, and what in general would I like to highlight in terms of achievements?

It was a very difficult year for the company. We were unable to influence or prevent the events, and therefore we simply tried to maintain a high-quality and decent service for our audience. We began to communicate and interact more with players on forums and social networks, quickly formed a brand, slogan and product promotion strategy, which is currently focused around the return of players to the “Tanks”. It’s no secret that this is a real cultural phenomenon: it will be difficult to find a man on the street who would not play or at least have not heard about “Tanks”. We optimized a lot of processes, which ultimately allowed the team (which decreased 5-7 times) to engage in full-fledged product operation in such a huge region and support several million players. And of the big achievements, this is most likely the general mood of the audience, we are really supported: both when we make mistakes and when it turns out to please the players. It is very pleasant to read hundreds of positive comments and reviews under our posts on social networks or under videos. By the way, our New Year’s video is a special gift for our players. It is unusual to realize that adults, almost all without exception, experience the very emotions that we tried to evoke with our video. This can be seen by the comments, by the number of views and, of course, by how many times they were shared on social networks or sent to Telegram to their loved ones and friends.

How has the situation changed for the company in the gaming market? What new challenges from the point of view of platforms, marketing and competition did it face?

From the point of view of the market, now there is a unique situation where there are opportunities for another growth (after 12 years!), which is extremely rare. For the gaming industry, any crisis is a great opportunity to attract and return players. Free games are one of the most affordable leisure activities at the moment. And if you look at our target audience, a lot of key “competitors” have naturally evaporated. And I’m not talking about those projects and companies that have left the market, but rather that our native competitors have always been football, a cinema, a trip to the mall with children, a vacation abroad, etc. A significant part of leisure has withdrawn due to the difficult geopolitical situation. Also, the cost of advertising placements has greatly decreased due to the lack of great competition, again, it turned out to launch even a certain amount of outdoor advertising in large cities at reasonable prices. However, there are still a lot of new challenges: a large audience volume requires very serious investments in the service for players: hardware, software, personnel. A unique situation has developed for us in the market – we have to quickly and coolly solve all tasks at once: hire new people, learn to sell, provide a high level of service, solve technical problems, communicate with suppliers of equipment and various software. But our community had the hardest time — long-term social ties are being torn, which, of course, affects the emotional state of our entire team.

Is it possible to talk about a change in user behavior? Or about their new interests, features that you have noticed?

So far, the audience treats our team with some distrust, in some places they are trying to push for “populist solutions”, but our main rule is not to harm. In general, from the funny features, we revealed the fact that it is much more interesting for our players to just play “Tanks” than to read information about the project and figure out who is doing it there. The account is working, the fights are going to — so in the evening you can spend an hour or two with friends. At the same time, we ourselves are focused on consolidating our community around the game — common goals are always easier to achieve than personal ones. The payment behavior changed a little after part of the audience chose the European region for themselves — yet the remaining players from other countries (not the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus) simply physically cannot pay. They were very upset, especially during the New Year offensive – the annual event in December-January. This is a truly amazing event: hundreds of thousands of players have been saving and saving money for a whole year to open gifts at the New Year’s event, get new tanks, stock up on game gold for the future and perform tasks from New Year’s heroes – this year it’s Santa Claus and Snow Maiden instead of the usual celebrities. Fortunately, this did not affect the atmosphere of the holiday in any way, which we are very happy about.

What was the year like for the genres in which you work?

It so happened that some companies left our market, which means that for them we can say that this year is clearly not very successful. In our case (like a year ago, and a year before that, and 10 more times as many) — this is the time when hundreds of thousands of players are actively playing, returning to the game and participating in events. Inside, we call it a “December candle.” This is facilitated by a huge number of gifts, free giveaways. And, of course, strong social ties that allow you to shake off the dust from your beloved ISA and make a couple of fights with friends in the platoon, until New Year’s salads and a glass of cold champagne, everyday worries and difficulties take the player away from us for another year.

What are the company’s plans for next year?

The plans for next year are the most ambitious — starting from huge investments in infrastructure and service for products, active attraction of new and the return of “sleeping” players. Many collaborations with various major brands in the local market. Development of new mechanics, participation in preserving the memory of the Great Patriotic War, its significant dates and heroes. Support for the community of players and bloggers, the growth of the development team of “Tanks”. And, of course, we think that we need to develop new games that will be relevant to the audience of the current generation. We understand that, despite the colossal margin of safety and ambitious plans, we need to move on.

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