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Michail Katkoff's Blog   Expert Blogs



Deconstructor of Fun


Ever since I can remember, I've been playing video games. That's saying a lot, since I lived my early childhood in the Soviet Union, which wasn't exactly famous for it’s consumer electronics. 

When I was 5 years old, my family moved to Finland and they got me a SEGA out of their first salary. It was a big investment for an immigrant household, but I think we can all agree that this investment has now paid off. (Even though my mom still probably wants me to follow her career path in medicine.)
I started my career in games in 2010 at Digital Chocolate's Helsinki studio as an Associate Product Manager, after getting my Masters degree from the Helsinki School of Economics. Since then I've had the privilege to work in product management with some of the smartest and talented people on some of the biggest franchises in the gaming industry, first at Rovio and then at Supercell.  
This blog started from my notes of deconstructing benchmark titles. I wanted to make better notes, and there’s no better way to improve your notes than making them public for the whole industry to judge. This blog is my attempt to analyze how games have been put together focusing mainly on free-to-play mobile games. In the end, fun is a serious business.

So in short: I'm a gamer, a geek, an ex-commie, a long-time capitalist, fan of UFC, MMA practitioner, officially the second best grappler in Finland, cyclist and of course a product guy. Oh, and a blogger as well.



Expert Blogs

Posted by Michail Katkoff on Fri, 22 Nov 2013 02:29:00 EST in Design, Smartphone/Tablet
The last piece in the mid-core success series highlighting monetization.

Posted by Michail Katkoff on Mon, 04 Nov 2013 01:53:00 EST in Design, Smartphone/Tablet
Instead of K-factors and virality, this is a post about true social mechanics. The kind of social mechanics that add to the gameplay, improve overall player experience and make the game feel more alive.

Posted by Michail Katkoff on Mon, 28 Oct 2013 12:42:00 EDT in Design, Smartphone/Tablet
In this post I'll break down how to overcome the challenge of retention with a well thought out core loop, balanced game economy and clever use of events.

Posted by Michail Katkoff on Thu, 24 Oct 2013 05:11:00 EDT in Design, Smartphone/Tablet
This write-up is about mid-core core loops, concentrating on not only the loop structure but also on what the loops aim to achieve, the cardinal sin of most mid-core titles and how to avoid it with proper core loop design, and the metagame.

Posted by Michail Katkoff on Fri, 11 Oct 2013 02:08:00 EDT in Design, Smartphone/Tablet
In this post Iíll present the 4 main reasons why Plants vs. Zombies 2 is unlikely to ever reach top 10 grossing on iOS.

Posted by Michail Katkoff on Mon, 25 Feb 2013 08:48:00 EST in Business/Marketing, Social/Online
Japanís top grossing mobile game Puzzle & Dragons is estimated to generate between $54 and $75.5 million a month. This post will go through the key mechanics that make Puzzle & Dragons succeed in Japan and fall short in the USA.

Michail Katkoff's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 10/28/2013 - 12:42]

Thanks Rajveer. I 've done ...

Thanks Rajveer. I 've done multiple core loops before and tied them together with resources. For example you get specific resource from PvP that you need in city building part and in city building you get a resource that you need in adventure part etc. It does get complicated though ...

Comment In: [Blog - 10/24/2013 - 05:11]

Kabam is a master in ...

Kabam is a master in timer mechanics. Building, research, training and battling have their own specific timers, so player initiates an action and has to return to start a new action.

Comment In: [Blog - 10/11/2013 - 02:08]

Wow, awesome conversation around the ...

Wow, awesome conversation around the post - exactly what I wished for. r n r nThere 's a lot of F2P vs. Paid going on. These models aren 't competing because paid game is essentially different than a F2P game. Paid games have a beginning and an ending, following exactly ...

Comment In: [Blog - 02/25/2013 - 08:48]

To get the monsters you ...

To get the monsters you collect from dungeons player has to finish the dungeon. In case player 's health drops to 0 they can pay 1 premium currency to get it back to full. And this is something that you have to do a lot during the game as you ...