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Realore Games putting the Baltics on the mobile gaming map

August 17, 2015

Natalia Matveeva has quietly built one of Eastern Europe’s bigger game companies over the past 13 years. Her company, Realore Games, is based in Klapeda, Lithuania, and it has grown to more than 100 people since 2002. Matveeva and cofounder Michael Zhinko focused on the PC at the start, building more than 70 games to date.

But now Realore has expanded into mobile, and it’s releasing a series of free-to-play games this year. The first is the mobile strategy simulation game, Divine Academy, which is available on iOS. The impressive part about Realore’s growth is that it has been self-funded. Matveeva puts a great deal of stock in being an independent game studio. Will it make the transition to becoming a global mobile gaming company, and, in the process, put Lithuania on the map in gaming? We’ll see.

[quote text=”Lithuania wants to move more strongly into the IT industry. They’ve provided a lot of incentives for companies like ours. It’s much easier to establish a company and do business. We’re in the European Union, which allows us to establish partnerships with a lot of other companies and outsource for things like advertising talent. The government is trying its best. That support is very important.” name_surname=”Natalia Matveeva” description=”Founder of Realore Games” left=””]

GamesBeat: How many mobile games do you have now?

Matveeva: We have around 20 mobile games now, some of them paid. With the addition of these new ones, we have seven free-to-play games.

GamesBeat: Is that becoming a bigger part of your business?

Matveeva: Yeah. Now we’re mostly concentrating on mobile. It’s the platform where users want to play. More and more, our customers from the PC days were asking for mobile games. In 2012 we started moving to mobile, and we’ve continued to move toward tablets and smartphones as gaming platforms. We have to move with our players.

GamesBeat: What do you think of the competition here today?

Matveeva: It’s tough. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a situation at any time in history where anyone’s had to do something like compete with a million other apps in the Apple store. Lots of people play games, which gives us a sort of advantage over things like financial apps, but on the other hand, financial apps have an advantage because people know what they’re looking for. When it comes to games, they want something fun, but they don’t always know exactly what kind of fun. We need to guess and prepare something special for them with each new game.

Mobile has become great for advertisers, and not only for games. It would be easier if it was just for games, but now we’re seeing other companies buying the same kind of users that we’re looking for. That makes it very hard. But in the end all we need is the creativity to improve our games. We know our users, and we have a very loyal base from when we developed for PC. They support us, which gives us the ability to be self-sustaining and have the revenue to develop new games.

GamesBeat: In mobile, what’s your biggest hit so far?

Matveeva: Our biggest is Farm Up. It’s a farming game. It’s been downloaded around seven million times. We self-published it. It’s working very well for us. But of course we want more users for different games. Farm Up was developed three years ago, even before Hay Day. We can do far better games with far better art.

GamesBeat: Are you the biggest game company in Lithuania? How many others are there?

Matveeva: Yes, we are. There’s a movement of more companies coming out in the Baltic states in general, though. Right now it’s around 10 or 12 in Lithuania itself. We were the first to develop for PC and mobile.

GamesBeat: How do you go about expanding? Do you want to hire people in other countries, expand into international markets?

Matveeva: That would be the goal, but first we want to make sure—some games are going to be popular in Asia, some in the United States. Some of our games are mostly aimed at North America. They might not be the best fit for Asia. But we have some titles that have done very well there. Because we’re self-funded, we have to look closely at where to go and where to invest.

GamesBeat: For now, all your teams are in Lithuania?

Matveeva: Yes.

GamesBeat: Does Lithuania have any particular advantages for a game company?

Matveeva: Right now, Lithuania wants to move more strongly into the IT industry. They’ve provided a lot of incentives for companies like ours. It’s much easier to establish a company and do business. We’re in the European Union, which allows us to establish partnerships with a lot of other companies and outsource for things like advertising talent. It’s not Silicon Valley, but the government is trying its best. That support is very important.

Read full interview at venturebeat.com

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