Alawar

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Alawar
Type Private
Industry Computer software
Casual games
Founded Novosibirsk (1999 (1999))
Headquarters Novosibirsk, Barnaul, Tomsk (Russia)
Alexandria, Virginia (USA)
Area served Worldwide
Key people Alexander Lyskovsky (CEO, co-founder)
Sergey Zanin (co-founder)
Employees 165 (2009)
Divisions Alawar Stargaze
Alawar North
Hamster Studio
Website www.alawar.com

Alawar is a Russian video game developer, publisher and distributor, founded in 1999. The company specializes in the development and distribution of computer games for a mass audience (users of personal computers, mobile devices, gaming consoles, etc.)

Initially, Alawar had specialized in publishing casual games, but the company is now focused on developing and publishing free-to-play games. As of today, the company has published more than 300 of its own gaming brands. Among the projects are Farm Frenzy, The Treasures of Montezuma and others.

Games from Alawar can be downloaded from such online stores as App Store, Google Play, PlayStation Network and others. Alawar has its own network of online gaming sites. Besides, company partners with online distributors of casual games and provides turnkey solutions for owners of websites willing to create their own gaming sections.

In addition, Alawar includes the following game development studios: Alawar Stargaze, Alawar North and Hamster Studio.

History[edit]

1998-2003[edit]

Founded by a group of friends in 1999, Alawar initially developed hard core PC games for the Russian retail market. Eventually, the market became unprofitable, with developers earning only pennies per copy of a game sold. At that time, small computer games sold online via the shareware distribution method were becoming popular, so Alawar shifted its focus to creating these kinds of titles, which would eventually come to be known as casual games. Since making this switch in 2001, Alawar has published more than 200 games.

2004-2006[edit]

Alawar began to develop its own distribution platform. The corresponding market in the USA was highly competitive, so it was decided to draw attention to the Russian segment of the Internet. The Russian trading platform for casual games was created on the alawar.ru website. [1]

In those days, almost no one had been using the Internet as a sales channel in Russia, and the company had to spend a lot of time and effort not only to create the mechanisms of distribution, but also to explain the peculiarities of this new type of game to potential customers. In 2003, Western consumers were familiar with shareware games, but Russian users knew virtually nothing about them. Alawar had to translate the collective name for games of this genre into Russian. According to Alexander Lyskovsky, they had discussed several names, including "alawariki," [2] but in the end they chose a calque of the English phrase "casual games" – "казуальные игры".

For the most part, foreign buyers of casual games are housewives who buy games for themselves and their children. Most often, they prefer various "click games," in which you need to arrange different objects by taking into account their color or shape. Domestic consumers also like such games, but Russian users are also fond of logic games and puzzles. In addition, cheerful and simple arcade games that have migrated to the PC from slot machines are very popular in Russia – arkanoids, shooters, platformers, etc. [3]

In 2006, Alawar was one of the first companies in Russia to provide the option of paying by SMS. [4]

2007-2009[edit]

In 2007, Finam Investment Holding, an investment firm in the Russian Federation, acquired a minority stake in Alawar. [5] The company used the proceeds of the investment to acquire core assets (including outside development studios), create casual games and improve its content distribution technologies.

Alawar created six internal studios between 2007 and 2010 by acquiring Eastern European studios with which the company had a history of working. The first was Alawar Stargaze, which the company formed by entering into an agreement with Stargaze Interactive (the Hyperballoid series). Alawar also entered into an agreement with Dream Dale (the Smash Frenzy series) in 2007, creating Alawar DreamDale. Alawar increased its number of internal studios to four in 2008 by acquiring Five-BN (the Craze series) and Friday's Games (the Natalie Brooks series), creating Alawar Five-BN and Alawar Friday's Games. Casual Forge Entertainment (the Mogul series) teamed up with Alawar in 2010 to create Alawar Southpoint.

In 2008, the first editions of Farm Frenzy and The Treasures of Montezuma were released. These two games have become a kind of symbol of the company. As of January 2014, Farm Frenzy has been downloaded more than 250 million times in 150 countries, and The Treasures of Montezuma more than 120 million times in 100 countries. In 2008, Farm Frenzy was recognized as the best casual game at Russian Game Developers Conference 2008 [6]. Farm Frenzy also became the best family software product in 2008, according to Disney Family, and received the iParenting Media Award.

In November 2009, alawar.ru was among three winners in the "Website of the Year" category at the Russian Entertainment Awards 2009. [7]

2010-2011[edit]

In February 2010, Alawar announced that venture capital firm Almaz Capital Partners, general partner of Almaz Capital Russia Fund I (also known as Almaz Capital/Cisco Russia Fund I), signed an agreement with Finam Investment Holding to purchase Finam's equity stake in Alawar. Under the terms of the transaction, Almaz acquired a 23 percent stake in the company, which Finam acquired after several rounds of investments starting August 2007.[8]

"We help promising companies to enter the international market. Alawar has great potential in the market of casual games," Alexander Galitsky, in an interview for PH "Kommersant" [9].

Alawar began developing games for mobile platforms, primarily for iOS devices. In 2010, about 15 games for the iPhone and the iPad [10] were released. The Treasures of Montezuma for iOS was included in the TOP 2 games for the iPad and TOP 20 games for the iPhone in the USA.

In 2011, Alawar developed its production with special attention to multiplatform games.[11] The company released games not only for PCs, but also for Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Windows 7 and the PSP Minis console.

In 2011, Alawar began conducting educational seminars in cooperation with the Technopark of Novosibirsk Akademgorodok ("Akadempark"), within the framework of which entry-level game developers can obtain all the necessary knowledge in order to create their own game studios, as well as obtain advice from more experienced game developers.[12]

2012- present[edit]

Since 2012, in parallel with the release of games according to the premium model of monetization, Alawar has been launching several free-to-play projects. In the future, the Company's activities will be increasingly associated with this game monetization model.

In February 2012, Alawar was included in the Forbes Russia "Top 30 Russian Internet Companies" rating (24th position). [13]

In 2012, The Treasures of Montezuma Blitz was released for the PS Vita console. [14] Thus, Alawar became the first third-party publisher to release a free-to-play game with microtransactions for consoles from Sony. In the same year, Alawar released a launch game for Windows 8 and ported games for the Chrome Web Store.

In May 2012, at the Game Developers Conference in Moscow, The Treasures of Montezuma won the "Best Casual Game" award, and Alawar was recognized as the "Best Game Publisher." [15]

In January 2013, Sergey Orlovsky, General Director of Nival, joined the Board of Directors of Alawar. His professional experience should help Alawar adapt successfully to the free-to-play market to which Nival is already accustomed. Alawar and Nival publish their projects in the same global market with no competition between them, as they focus on different audiences: Alawar publishes and distributes small and easy-to-understand casual games, while Nival develops large projects for hardcore gamers. [16] In 2012 and 2013, Alawar was among the winners of the TechUspech rating: in 2012 the TOP 31 [17], and in 2013 the TOP 10 innovative companies [18].

Development and publication of games for PC and Mac[edit]

The company released its first casual games for PC in 1999.

The majority of games for personal computers that are being developed and published by Alawar belong to the casual genre: hidden objects, time management, three in a row, puzzles, etc. As a publisher, Alawar collaborates with partners that distribute games for personal computers, such as Big Fish Games, Oberon Media, iWin, etc. Alawar also partners with vendors that pre-install Alawar games on personal computers and netbooks in Russia.

Alawar games are available not only for Windows, but also for Mac OS X. The company offers over 70 games for Mac, which can be downloaded from the Mac App Store. Alawar owns the largest collection of applications among all application developers and publishers in the Mac App Store.

The company's most popular franchises for PC: The Treasures of Montezuma, Farm Frenzy, Stray Souls, The House of 1000 Doors, Natalie Brooks, Hotel Mogul, etc.

Development and publication of mobile games[edit]

The company releases games for all popular mobile platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, Bada, J2ME, etc.

Since 2009, the company has been actively porting its PC games to mobile platforms, so the collection of mobile products has been supplemented by casual games. In addition, since 2011 the company has also been implementing mobile projects "from scratch." The product portfolio is being supplemented by games belonging to genres such as [arcade], [runner], and [tower defense].

In 2012, the company released one of its main mobile products – the free-to-play game ShakeSpears! Initially, the game was released for Android, and then for iOS. The game was accepted by Apple App Store and Google Play. After the release in the App Store, the game entered the Top 10 in the USA and Top 5 in other countries. ShakeSpears! became the first mobile game from Alawar offering cross-platform multiplayer mode. In 2013 the game was licensed by NHN Corporation, and in 2014 it will be released in the gaming section of Line Messenger.

Since 2012, the company has been focusing on the development of free-to-play games. Several new projects were launched (beta versions were available in early 2014): Montezuma Blitz, Farm Frenzy Inc., The Mystery of Dragon Isle, Dunwitch Duels, Epic Forces.

In 2013, the company entered the Russian market of f2p games with applications from third-party publishers. The most significant project is the collaboration with Com2uS, one of the largest Korean publishers. Alawar performed localization and adaptation of a well-known project, Heroes War (Russian: Банда. Короли улиц). The company is also engaged in community management. The game was released in the App Store and Google Play.

Development of console games[edit]

Since 2010, the company has been porting its games to Nintendo and Sony gaming consoles. As of the beginning of 2014, the company has published eight games for Nintendo DS, two games for Nintendo DSi, eight games for PSP, four games for PlayStation3, and one game for PS Vita.

In 2012, Alawar released the first original console game – Treasures of Montezuma Blitz. Thus, Alawar became the first third-party publisher to release a free-to-play game with microtransactions for consoles from Sony. In 2014, the second original console game will be released (the Treasures of Montezuma franchise).

In 2014 the company launched a website for Sony consoles projects.

Distribution[edit]

Alawar Digital business unit is responsible for distribution. Alawar Digital owns the distribution rights for over 1000 games from 100 different developers; it also operates its own online gaming sites in 10 languages. As of early 2014, the monthly active audience of its own and affiliate sites amounts to more than 16 million users. Since 2004, Alawar Digital and its partners have sold more than 1 billion copies of casual games.

Alawar has been promoting its own Affiliate Program since 2004.

Besides, Alawar Digital owns the Atarata website, which hosts only free games from the Alawar Digital portfolio.

References[edit]