Anna Yukhtenko is the detail-oriented and high-energy game analyst turning data into insights at Hutch. Her eclectic background and colorful outlook inject her industry commentary with a special electricity that makes it easy to listen to high-level analytics topics without feeling lost or bored. She frequently shares her insight with the Mobile Masterminds community and sat down for an interview to share a bit of her career story and discuss working in gaming analytics as a whole. Her interview is below.
So Anna, where are you from?
I am originally from Moscow, but I lived in Helsinki for such a long time that now I feel like I am Russian/Finnish – a bit of an identity crisis. But I hope I am taking the best parts of the two cultures.
Right now I live in London and I am absolutely loving it. It is such a busy, vibrant cosmopolitan city! The Moscowite in me likes the buzz, the liveliness, the grand buildings, rich history, and the two-storeyed buses. There is always something to do, any day of the week – you literally never get bored.
How did you get into the mobile industry?
It is a funny story! I was working as an analyst but in the food industry. I liked it a lot as well, but my heart and brain required something new- more challenges, bigger data, a more fast-paced environment. I was looking for a place to move on, checking out various industries, sending an application here and there. One day I noticed a job ad for my future first position in a gaming company – marketing analyst at Next Games.
To be honest, I was hesitant at first as I never was a really avid gamer, but then my inner nerd woke up and I applied! I wrote a tongue-in-cheek application, accentuated my Excel wizardry and general awesomeness, and made it all sound upbeat and fun. In the end, I signed it with “Hugs and unicorns” instead of “Best regards”. Got the job even though I didn’t know much SQL then! (Now I am a SQL pro, obviously).
How did you end up working at Hutch?
Hutch was also quite a story (I think I see a pattern here :D). We just got a place in Helsinki, and everything was kinda settled there, but for a while I had a thought in the back of my head that I would like to move abroad. And so when I got contacted by a recruiter about Hutch, I got interested. It was quite a process, I did an analytical task, went through culture interview (which was actually very nice!) and then…got the job! I think if I had not moved then, I would have missed out on a lot and regretted it for the rest of my life.
What is Hutch, and why is it special?
Hutch is a game developer and publisher that creates car-focused games specifically for mobile platforms. In my opinion, what makes Hutch special is the people and the overall attitude. I feel like whatever comes, everyone manages to stay positive, keep a cool head and resolve all the problems. Also, Hutch is very open to innovations and fresh ideas. In addition, we have a culture of transparency and sharing, which I value a lot. For example, we have a Numbers session every week for the whole company, when an analyst shows off something she found out and explains what it means. This tradition built a culture of trusting the numbers, and people are really data-savvy!
Also, game teams always make a demo for the whole studio after they finish a sprint. It keeps everyone in the loop and you never feel like you do not know what is going on with other games while you are working on your own project.
What are the biggest challenges you currently face at Hutch?
I think every analyst’s challenge can be summarized as “so much data, so little time”. There are so many things I want to research, so many questions I want to look into, so many ideas – but I have to prioritize 🙂 It is a blessing and a curse at the same time. And having a solid analytics stack as well as agile processes like we have in Hutch, helps a lot.
What do you like most about working in game analytics?
The way I see it, game analytics and marketing analytics go hand in hand. One cannot say that “the job is done” once a user installs the game and makes a purchase. Game analytics allows you to look into what the acquired users actually do in the game, and it is extremely important– it helps identify pain points, events to optimize towards, find fraud, evaluate the actual efficiency of the campaigns, measure retargeting uplift – you name it. I would say that analytics is an integral part of whatever you do with your game, be it user acquisition, design or balancing.
What are your favorite tools to use or consult in your professional life?
I believe in the power of third-party tools mixed with my own SQL magic! Currently, we use Amplitude, and I would say it is sufficient for a lot of low-hanging fruits and day-to-day jobs. The platform evolved tremendously since Hutch started working with them.
For more complicated stuff I use Snowflake (it comes as an add-on to Amplitude) – there I have access to raw data. I cannot build custom automatically updating tables in Snowflake, but this module is a huge help when it comes to specific and more in-depth tasks. And the game I am working on has a lot of these.
What do you think are the key future trends in the mobile gaming industry?
Oh that is a tough one… I think I will not be very original if I say this, but I think the mobile gaming industry is slowly turning its head towards subscription. It has been the word of mouth for a very long time, and some people call it “next big thing after free-to-play”. The way I see it, it might happen in the future, but it will require significant restructuring of the way monetization is thought about. I believe it will be the same story as with free-to-play – re-skinning games for a new monetization model will unlikely work, the titles will have to be developed specifically for subscription. But I believe players will adapt to it easily, as it’s a well-known model used in PC MMOs and also a lot of non-gaming apps.
Another great thing that is definitely here to stay is live game communities. Over the past couple of years, we’ve learned a lot about running a live ops game communities in our games here at Hutch. The way that we see players making a home within games, chatting, strategizing, and having fun together has inspired us a lot! I can say that Hutch’s future will likely involve expanding and even better servicing our amazing live game communities 🙂
Anna Yukhtenko is the Games Analyst at Hutch and a frequent Mobile Masterminds community contributor. Read Anna’s in-depth article “Are subscriptions the new winning strategy for mobile game monetization?”.