Q&A: Exploring how Imperia Online fits into the Windows ecosystem

Imperia Online is a free-to-play medieval-themed RTS from Bulgarian game developer Imperia Online Ltd and after ten years on the market, the title has gained a huge following across the globe. Initially started as an online browser-based experience, the game has rapidly expanded over the years, offering a universal experience across a range of differing devices and platforms. With an already established presence on Windows Phone, this makes the game a perfect candidate for a Windows 10 universal app.

In collaboration with mobile publisher Game Troopers, the company brought its flagship title to the Windows Phone, boasting Xbox Live integration. Now the duo is bringing Imperia Online onto Windows PCs, in the form of a Windows 10 universal application.

I spoke with COO of Imperia Online Ltd, Cvetan Rusimov, to discuss their experience when expanding into Microsoft's ecosystem and what the future may hold for Imperia Online.

Matt Brown, Windows Central: For those who don't know, who are Imperia Online Ltd?

Cvetan Rusimov, Imperia Online Ltd: Imperia Online Ltd. is a Bulgarian game production company founded by Moni Dochev and Dobroslav Dimitrov. Based in Sofia, Bulgaria, the company originally concentrated primarily on browser-based games with its main title - Imperia Online, but later started developing mobile games as well. As of 2016 the company has more than 15 games in its portfolio with several more in development. Imperia Online Ltd. now develops games for web browsers, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and social networks like Facebook, Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte.

Matt: How big is the team working on the game?

Cvetan: As of January 2016 Imperia Online Ltd. has more than 160 employees, out of which 60 people are the live team of the game Imperia Online, including professional developers, designers, artists, QA specialists and business developers.

Matt: The real-time strategy scene is undeniably a crowded market. What makes Imperia Online stand out from the crowd?

Cvetan: Imperia Online delivers a unique gaming experience to its 30 million+ users by providing a rich battle system, deep economic and military model. Imperia Online is localized for the CIS and MENA regions with different graphics and soundtrack to reflect cultural differences. Further, it is available in over 30 languages, including the customer support offered. Imperia Online is a cross-platform game, started as a browser game, it is also available now on mobile devices and social networks and other game platforms such as RBK Games, and, most recently, has been Xbox labelled.

Matt: Which platforms hold the largest percentage of Imperia Online's player-base? Has mobile become a popular way to play the title?

Cvetan: Still the largest player-base is on web, but from September 2015, when Imperia Online was selected to be part of the Xbox Live app in partnership with Game Troopers, the mobile player-penetration increased to around 30% and it is growing. Amongst the main retention incentives for the players is the fact that Windows phone owners have the right to earn up to 400G points for their Xbox accounts whilst enjoying Imperia Online.

Matt: Have you been happy with the response you've received for your Windows Phone application?

Cvetan: We are glad that our game has an average score 4,8 out of 5,0 and it's on Top Rated Charts of dozens of countries. The loyalty proves to be higher than on iOS and Android platform taking into account the retention metrics.

Matt: Imperia Online will soon be arriving in the form of a Windows Universal application. How does Windows 10 benefit such games with a player base over multiple platforms?

Cvetan: Yes, Imperia Online will soon have a universal app, which will allow users to access a desktop version. This is expected to expand the company's market significantly, because originally desktop market is our strongest and the art looks even better on PC. On the other hand, Imperia Online Ltd. realized a long time ago in the past how important cross-platform games are, giving access to the same gameplay via all kinds of devices and we believe they are the future of the game industry.

Matt: What has been your experience bringing Imperia Online into the Windows ecosystem?

Cvetan: At first we were sceptical to Windows ecosystem, but then Game Troopers, one of the most prominent game publishers on this platform, made the process look like a piece of cake. From our experience now it is non-problematic easy going integration.

Matt: How do you see Imperia Online expanding in the future?

Cvetan: Although Imperia Online Ltd. has established a significant player base, there are still regions where the company would like to expand, for example, China. We plan to do that with the help of Azure services by Microsoft. There are also many new titles to come and Windows users will be happy to know that within a few weeks Ludo Blitz will be released with the help of Game Troopers as a universal app.

We'd like to thank Cvetan for putting aside some of his time to answer our questions!

Imperia Online will be hitting Windows 10 this week as a universal application, expanding the game's reach to millions of Windows 10 PCs. In the meantime, Windows users can access the game in-browser through the official Imperia Online site, or via the Windows Store for Windows Phone devices.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.