Realore (makers of such casual games as Turtle Odyssey and Jane’s Hotel) have just celebrated their seventh anniversary in the business. We sat down with the company’s head of business development, Natalia Matveeva, to chat about some of the highlights of those first seven years, and what Realore has in store for the future.
First of all, congratulations on your seven year anniversary. What are some of the company’s biggest highlights during those seven years?
Realore is a customer-oriented service, and we are very proud of it. Yes, our income has tripled year-over-year. Yes, we have been able to employ the best talents in the area. Yes, we started with just one casual project a year for PC, and now we’ve been developing seven projects at a time for multiple platforms, different genres, and various kinds. However, all these “yeses” would be nothing without the fact that each new game we develop has greater conversion rate, which means people love our games and want to play them.
In this respect, our first big highlight was Aqua Bubble, which spent 42 weeks on the charts at Reflexive Arcade. Then, the Turtle Odyssey series followed. At the time, no one thought that an arcade game would make it to the Top 10 at RealArcade. Turtle Odyssey did, as we foresaw a bit of a demand for arcade games among casual players.
Our best brand so far has been the Jane series. More than a million players enjoyed the game during the first week of release of the Flash version of Jane’s Hotel. These are not all the highlights, but the most precious ones that we’ve shared with our customers.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Tell us about the origins of Realore.
Realore was established by a team of five enthusiasts, with a mission to provide the best non-violent, family games. Back in 2002, there were not many casual game development companies around, and it has been great to see how a tiny market has grown into something that millions now can’t live without.
Unfortunately, the majority of these companies have come and gone, and some have been absorbed by larger companies. That wasn’t the case for Realore. Step by step, a “garage” company grew into a company of 35 professionals, with offices in both Russia and Lithuania.
Our first customers were military seamen from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). (Actually, this was the first military vessel that accepted women as military servants.) Now we have customers from all over the world, and company games have been translated into more than 20 languages.
The first Realore game was programmed “on one’s knee”, where as now, we have an engine that allows us to develop and port games for Mac, Pocket PC, ipTV, Nintendo DS, and iPhone. The same engine allows us to make necessary adjustments to all our projects when we need and the way we need. More than anything, we’ve always wanted to build our own relationships with customers and always known what customers would want in next six months.
People tend to have some sort of a role model they try to live up to. Jane is everything a person would want to be and can become. We added a personal touch to the character by naming her Jane, after my most respected professor at the university. The best memory I have is when I gave the first copy of CD box to the real Jane.
Tell us more about Realore’s role as a publisher and distributor of casual games.
Most publishers are like huge factories. They release games daily, and as many as possible. It’s not bad, because this allows running constant sales, which people actually enjoy. However, Realore is different – it is a boutique-style business. We, as a developer, understand the real value of the games we are dealing with. We do not publish 50+ games a year, as declared by many third parties. Realore is for quality and satisfaction.
Most games on Realore’s portal are developed in-house. We can modify them to suit the current needs. We have loyal customers that have been buying our games since the very beginning.
What can you tell us about your upcoming projects and sequels?
We have very exciting games and services to offer. We’ve just released a beta version of our casual MMO called OzzyClub. The simple and intuitive gameplay allows players to enjoy playing their favorite games and earning points. Points can be used in MMO itself, as well as on Realore portal to buy downloadable games.
More cute and funny animals are waiting for love and care in Farm Mania 2. It’s a perfect chance to train various skills by fishing on the lake, picking up mushrooms in the woods, bee keeping, growing fruits and vegetables, taking care of animals and developing your own farm.
If country life is not for you, you can just feel creative by building and upgrading your dream city. Build an ordinary house or the whole estate, with gardens and fountains and everything you can imagine in our upcoming Jane’s Realty 2.
Want more? Jane’s Hotel Mania is coming up for you, with more challenges with diversity of characters and locations. Dealing with ghosts running around medieval castles and crying babies of new customers are just some of the challenges you would face.
What changes can we expect to see from the company over the next couple of years?
More wonderful services and games to make our customers happy! We will make sure that no matter which console our customers use or social networks they are a part of, we will be there for them.
From your perspective, where is the casual games industry headed in the short term? Are digital downloads really “dead” like some people are saying?
Books didn’t die because of TV coming. Neither did theaters. The same is happening with digital downloads. The situation got worse because of the global economic crisis and less money in hands of potential customers, but there will always be innovative casual games that people won’t want to miss. Our company will provide casual games where people want and how they want them. Digital downloads is one of many options.
Any last words for your fans?
Thanks to all our fans that have been coming to our portals, buying games and enjoying the services we offer.