ZeptoLab, maker behind hit game Cut the Rope’s maker said it would march into China, at the Mobile Game Congress 2012 held in Chengdu, China recently. We had an opportunity to sit down with Misha Lyalin, CEO of the company to talk more about its China plan and more, here’s the excerpt of the interview.

Why China?

ZeptoLab actually was a 2-year-old company, pretty young. Cut the Rope was only its second game. But to our surprise, China is already the largest market of ZeptoLab. Misha told us Cut the Rope had 250 million downloads worldwide, and China accounted for 35%, even surpassing America. “We all know Chinese mobile Internet market was still primitive, however, with huge potential.” Misha said.

Misha, CEO of ZeptoLab

Misha: We are different from Angry Birds

Though Misha don’t want to compare ZeptoLab with Rovio, the way Misha made its debut indeed reminded us of the first time Rovio’s Peter delivering the speech in China, wearing a red hoodie with a Might Bird on it. But, indeed they are different.

In terms of positioning, Rovio is more of an entertainment company but ZeptoLab is still a gaming company. Angry Birds’ Rovio has made the transition from a gaming company to an entertainment brand. While Zeptolab’s Strength lies in developing games and wants to obtain more users’ recognition. So even though Cut the Rope enjoyed a large user pool, yes we are going to sell copyrights or related products, but our core business is still developing games.

From the perspective of company structure, Rovio has hundreds of employees, including several Studio developing games, an animation unit and a book publication unit. ZeptoLab only has a team of about 50 staff, with 40 of them developing games. Currently ZeptoLab didn’t have its own animation unit and book publication unit. Many related products are outsourced.

Their goals in China are also different. On Rovio’s launching in China, Peter was quite confident to say that 1oo million downloads was its target, and Rovio did it. While Misha didn’t want to use an exact figure to be the goal, he said, our goal was to make our games and animation characters known to every Chinese.

ZeptoLab’s Plan in China 

At present ZeptoLab’s partner i-Free is responsible for all ZeptoLab’s business in China. In 2013, ZeptoLab will establish a company in China, probably in Beijing. Misha said besides marketer, ZeptoLab would also recruit developers from China. In 2013 ZeptoLab will launch 4-5 new games.

Research and Development of New Games

Misha said, as CEO of the company, I had much to concern, such as market and investor relations. But we paid much attention to games. Every month there was a competition within the company encouraging staff to spark new ideas. We would choose those brilliant ones, make them into prototype and see if they’re worth further developing. We will consider user group or profits, but we highly value quality and users’ need. You know we have a browser version for Cut the Rope because many people don’t have smart phones, so we make the platform for them without any purpose of profitability.

The Brand: American or Russian?

Cut the Rope is ZeptoLab’s most well-known game, but many users mistake ZeptoLab for an American company. Misha admitted that America had a considerable market; so many users take for granted that good companies are all from America. But for ZeptoLab, it plans to use every way to highlight the fact that ZeptoLab come from Russia, and expect ZeptoLab will become the symbol of Russian Internet industry, just like how Rovio replaced Nokia to represent Finland.

screenshot of Cut the Rope

Chelsea Dong

She reads, travels, photographs and writes, with interests in chronicling China tech scene and interpreting how technology disrupts the way people live.

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