Azur Games: a Unity case study
Developer and mobile game publisher Azur Games has more to offer than top-down battlers like AXES.io and the multiplayer dino shoot-em-up Jurassic Monster World. They want to grow their partner studios right alongside them. That’s why they looked to the Unity Distribution Portal to expand their reach and scale up for the future.
To move beyond a two-store mobile game distribution system in order to diversify and expand into untapped market segments around the world
Dmitry Yaminskiy, CEO
Yana Vesnina, Business Development Lead
Using UDP to sell games, support devs, and gain reach
Most game publishers want to expand their market base far and wide. But Azur Games isn’t just doing it for revenue growth. Their mission is to help developers who offer unique and entertaining games to find truly international visibility and success. In order to expedite this process, they decided to look into the Unity Distribution Portal (UDP).
- Detailed UDP documentation and guidelines, plus support from the Unity Distribution Portal team, meant a smooth integration
- Efficiently published AXES.io to Samsung’s Galaxy Store and Huawei’s AppGallery, unlocking access to almost 800M combined monthly active users (MAUs) around the world
- After adding AXES.io to AppGallery, it’s become the third most popular game in the store
For love of the games
Since 2017, Azur Games has exemplified the terms “change” and “growth.” What started as a small game studio has ballooned into a 200-person game developer and publisher spanning four countries. More importantly for gamers, they’ve since expanded their offerings to include not only mid-core games that require some strategy, but also very popular hyper-casual and casual games, which are perfect even for players with little gaming experience.
“Our initial growth was really made possible by the fact that we published all of our titles in-house,” says Yana Vesnina, Business Development Lead. “We developed our own studio, built Marketing and Product Analytics departments, and worked with LiveOps. We’ve been very lucky to find and hire developers who understood our products and our culture really well.”
Getting bigger and better
When asked what the current company goals are, Dmitry Yaminskiy, CEO, says, “We are now working to develop as a large publisher and be one of the top 3 most-prominent publishers in the world, as well as being truly collaborative with our partner studios. We offer other studios opportunities based on our own project experience in various segments, quality assurance, product assistance, marketing, store support, app store optimization (ASO), and much more.”
Naturally, they are hoping to grow even more, so are looking to expand their global reach. Growth, however, doesn’t just mean more people playing two of their most popular games, the cartoonish battle royale AXES.io and Jurassic Monster World, a multiplayer shoot-em-up that Vesnina describes as “a game with awesome graphics about metal dinosaurs with guns.”
They also want to help new and well-established developers prosper and grow, eventually helping them find their way into these markets and onto other platforms as well. This is what drove them to try out the Unity Distribution Portal.
Testing international audiences
“We were interested in finding new markets and audiences, so we decided to publish on new platforms,” says Vesnina. “Most of our games are built with Unity, so we used the Unity Distribution Portal to upload them to AppGallery and Galaxy Store, which serve more global audiences. This portal simplifies the process of entering different stores. All you need is to upload your game build and export it to the required platform. Moreover, for many stores UDP lets us upload builds directly, followed by various ASO assets like screenshots and descriptions.”
As is the case for most game developers, timelines were very important for releasing their games to the different stores. For Azur Games, their experience releasing and updating AXES.io was particularly notable.
“We had an excellent integration experience with UDP. It took less than two weeks to deploy the game on each platform, including dealing with some nuances that arose in the process.” Also, it’s no wonder that the stores they chose to test UDP were two of the most popular and populous stores in the alternative app market.
Joining Samsung and Huawei
Here are some fast stats to take in: the Samsung Galaxy Store enjoys 400M monthly active users, and apps on their store are downloaded 450M times per month. Huawei’s AppGallery sees 390M monthly active users and generates 180B+ app downloads per year. Azur Games liked those figures a lot. That’s what led them to Samsung and Huawei via UDP – a faster and less cumbersome way to move towards great returns.
“Since adding AXES.io to AppGallery, we’ve become the third most popular game in the store. This was largely due to the collaborative efforts between Huawei and our team, and also how fun AXES.io is. With the promotions we did with AppGallery – like featuring the game early on, banners, and user engagement through the store – we were able to find more users.”
UDP provides very detailed documentation and guidelines, so their integration went smoothly. However, they did have to tweak a few things. For example, the AppGallery has its own payment service, so they “had to put some work into the in-app code to make it work correctly in UDP and so our players could make in-game purchases. There were also a few problems with game repackaging, but our colleagues from Unity helped us fix that ASAP, so it didn’t interrupt the integration process.”
Simple in-app purchase setups and much more
One thing that comes up quite frequently from developers using UDP is how much easier certain integrations are to initiate and manage. The one most referred to is streamlined in-app purchase (IAP) setups. Azur found this incredibly valuable, especially when it came to saving time.
“Our team was able to access documentation and to quickly move through IAP setup for our games. While we had a few hiccups with Jurassic Monster World, releasing AXES.io on all platforms was really easy,” says Vesnina. “Our colleagues from Huawei and Samsung shared their knowledge and reported bugs so we could fix any issues that arose. Intense teamwork and partner support helped us conquer these new platforms with ease.”
Performing the sign-ups and submissions for their games in one streamlined hub “gave us great confidence in UDP,” shares Vesnina. “As well as the product’s major benefits, it was really easy to keep up with the changes we needed to make within each store we distributed to.”
Growing bigger to grow others
All of these new distribution efforts are heavily influenced by Azur Games’ desire to bring new developers into the fold. Not content to simply finance and reap revenue benefits from these game studios, they have a serious interest in creating more and continued success for them. It’s a less conventional and more collaborative effort, but they know the growth of their partners ultimately leads to advocacy and praise from both the court of public opinion and the developers themselves.
Using UDP to help accomplish this was a no-brainer for Azur Games, and they have plans to enter more stores and reach additional audiences in the months to come.
“We’re thinking about distributing to Xiaomi next, and then, who knows? As long as it stays easy and cost-effective, we might go to many more stores in the future. We are quite interested in entering into new marketplaces, and UDP is evolving actively and in the right direction, with Unity paying much attention to partner feedback. And on the technical side, it’s the best service for getting partner titles onto new platforms. When we have new projects to deploy to stores, we will definitely use Unity Distribution Portal to do it.”