KamaGames CEO on how the $500m games giant is winning in Dublin

24 Jan 2019

Andrey Kuznetsov. Image: KamaGames

KamaGames CEO Andrey Kuznetsov tells John Kennedy about the digital firm’s focus on a $137.9bn global games market.

Few people in the Irish tech scene are aware that one of the world’s biggest video games platforms is operating within their midst.

KamaGames, which came to Dublin in 2013, is one of the biggest European social mobile casino games operators. The award-winning operator’s flagship title Pokerist, has been the number one grossing app in 101 countries on the iOS App Store and one of the top five grossing apps in 45 countries on Google Play.

‘Dublin has given us greater efficiencies’

KamaGames was founded in 2010 and currently employs staff all over the world, along with a large number of freelance and contract/project staff. The company’s progress over the years has been immense, and it now has an estimated valuation of $500m.

It is understood that revenues at KamaGames grew 63pc in 2017 to $57.2m, from $35m the previous year.

Dealt a good hand

In an IDA-supported investment, the company located its global offices on Amiens Street. Currently, 15 people cover multiple disciplines including marketing, finance, HR, legal, accounting and business development. Part of the motive for KamaGames to select Ireland was to be near its biggest clients, including Apple and Google, which generate 60pc and 30pc of revenue respectively.

“In 2015 we made a decision to be more laser-focused on our business and we got rid of a ton of products that were unprofitable and projects that were still under development. In 2016 we launched our new game, Blackjackist, which was the best 3D multiplayer game available on the market at that time,” said Kuznetsov.

The laser focus that Kuznetsov is talking about resulted in the company building in-house proprietary technology to integrate deeply with the games systems and give the company potential for further growth. One of the outcomes of this strategy was the design of white-label and branded games for third parties such as the US TV show Poker Night in America, which boasts more than 26,000 concurrent online active players.

The company also has partnerships with platforms such as Viber as well as gaming networks from China and India. According to Kuznetsov, partnerships will be a key part of the company’s strategy into the future.

“When we release a new game, I install it myself to test it out and assess the quality. The games can be played without money. Most casual and mobile games would have 1pc to 2pc of people paying. For us it is 2pc, which is a good number in this field,” said Kuznetsov.

“We currently have nine games in one application – another unique feature for us which allows us to cross-promote to players and increase engagement, retention, customer spend, and increase almost all metrics.

“The last time we calculated, we were able to prove that 51pc of our players play at least two or more games every time they log in. We have another game that we launched recently called TeenPatti aimed at India and we have six games under development that will be launched in the next six months.”

How Dublin played and won

Kuznetsov said that Dublin won out over Switzerland for the KamaGames investment, and a key factor was early interaction with the IDA. “We were looking for a country that was European, where English was the main language and that had a tax-friendly jurisdiction.

“We were looking for a place to work, not for chilling out, but that also gave us access to talent and our partners, and an ecosystem that includes Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Microsoft.

“It is much easier to find people in Dublin than in Cyprus, where we were previously based.

“Most of our technical work is done in eastern Europe while here we do business development, marketing, PR and customer support for our players in English. We do our social media in English and we do all of the B2B partnerships, and all of the big deals are managed from here as well as accounting, strategic IP and legal.”

Kuznetsov said Dublin is crucial to the company’s next phase of growth. “We used to have a string of remote offices but decided that it was better to have everything concentrated in one place. Our revenue grew 36pc in 2016 and 63pc in 2017, and our 2018 figures will demonstrate growth.

“Dublin has given us greater efficiencies so we will stick to it and move forward.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years