Ukraine’s gaming community responds to outbreak of conflict

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On the morning of February 24, 2022, the Russian government launched a large-scale military strike on Ukraine. Among the many Ukrainians who speak out and ask for support are its game developers. Ukraine is home to a vast community of game creators, all of whom are experiencing the effects of a growing geopolitical conflict.

Members of the sports community in Ukraine estimate that the country has more than 400 sports-based organizations and employs more than 30,000 employees. Some game studios in Europe, Israel and Russia have branch offices in the country, and outsourcing and work for hire form a major part of the industry in Ukraine. Even if you are not aware of it, it is possible that you have played a game created or supported by a Ukrainian studio.

Some game studios have talked about the conflict on social media. The developers of GSC Game World, the Stalker franchise, tweeted:

Frogware, creator of the recent Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One, Said: “We can’t just stand. Russia is attacking our homeland and denying Ukraine sovereignty. We are trying to be safe, but this is a war, there are no two ways. We are a peace-loving nation, and in all the years since we gained our independence, we have never attacked or threatened anyone. This situation will affect our work and may ruin our lives. “

Mobile gaming studio Gameloft T.weetedGameloft is home to two studios in Ukraine – Kharkiv and Lviv – and we would like to express our support for them and for everyone affected by the current developments in the country. We have been following the situation very closely for the last few weeks and are in constant communication with our Ukrainian studios. We are all deeply saddened by the current events and our thoughts are with our beloved teams and members of the community in Ukraine. “

History of Ukraine with gaming

Alexei Menshikov was in Ukraine’s first game company, Action Forms, in the 1990s, and then worked and created game studios for years. He is currently the head of Beatshappers, a 20-person mobile game studio in Kiev, Ukraine. He has investigated with his people and they are safe, but he worries that if the war goes on and involves the whole country, they will remain the same.

Menshikov is part of Ukraine’s sports industry diaspora, where leaders migrate to other countries, such as the US, in search of capital and other resources to support their efforts to run international operations with links to development teams in Ukraine. Menshikov now lives in Los Angeles and manages the studio remotely.

In the past, much of that tradition has been in work rental companies that make up parts of the game, such as its core programming or art, while design is controlled elsewhere. But more and more Ukrainian studios and developers are pushing the food chain in gaming to make games and original titles.

Alexei Menshikov, CEO of Beatshappers

GamesBeat’s Dean Takahashi first crossed paths with Ukrainian game makers in 2010 when he met developers at GameProm, the maker of pinball games for mobile devices. He was surprised to learn that they had worked on so many pinball titles and was impressed by their resourcefulness. They didn’t grow up playing pinball. Instead, they learned by watching YouTube videos and then creating their own games.

Most of Ukraine’s gaming activity is centered in the capital, Kiev, which for years has been home to the Casual Connect Eastern European game developer event. More than 1,500 people attended the latest Games Gathering event in December. “We have developed a lot of companies, and have a very large presence in Ukraine, like Wargaming,” says Menshikov, who started out as a sound designer and, like many Ukrainians, taught himself game development skills.

Ukrainian game developers, with whom Gamesbeat speaks, cite the country’s education system as a key factor in why the game industry has grown there, with universities expelling talented programmers and creators who can enter the industry directly.

Game studio in Ukraine

The main studios in the region include Russian-Irish mobile gaming developer Plerix, which entered Ukraine after acquiring local studios Zagrava (in 2019) and Bullet Games (in 2021); Ubisoft, located in Kiev and the coastal city of Odessa; And Plerium, Israeli developer behind Raid: Shadow Legends.

Esports is also a major part of the Ukrainian gaming community. Recognizing it as an official sport in 2020, Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation Alexander Borniakov acknowledged that “millions of Ukrainians” enjoy watching sports. The country’s teams are also regular winners in major events, with Natus Vincere (or “Navi”) being one of the biggest teams.

Natus Winsor posted a statement on Twitter which reads:

The main player is Alexander Olegovich Kostilev, aka “s1mple”. Tweeted Her hometown was being shelled during the initial conflict.

This is not the first time game developers have been affected by the ongoing conflict between the two countries. The two main Ukrainian studios before 2014 were A4 Games and Arcadium, both of which were forced to relocate their offices after the Russian annexation of Crimea. A4 Games moved its studio to Malta at the urging of its publishers, and the arcade team in the region (the arcade is also located in New York City) chose to move to St. Petersburg. Petersburg.

Thundermark CEO Yuri Diachin runs a game studio with 40 people. The company is trying to come up with contingencies to help its employees by advising them to move to the western part of the country, Daiichi said in an interview at the Dice Summit in Las Vegas this week.

At the moment the studio continues to call for support following the directives of the Ukrainian government. Wepley Sports said in a statement this morning that its office in Ukraine would continue to operate for the time being. All WePlay holding employees are aware of government instructions that they need to follow and continue working from home. “

G5 Entertainment, a casual / mobile game developer, also said: “G5 Entertainment is closely following the growth in Ukraine; We currently have no reports of any of our staff being involved in hostilities. We recommend that our employees follow the advice of the Ukrainian President that they take refuge at home and not relocate at this time. We have some employees who have previously relocated while most remain in their hometowns.

“At this time, we have given Ukrainian workers two days off to take care of themselves and their families and friends. We remain committed to our employees wherever they are located and are doing our best to support them in the immediate situation and will continue to evaluate what steps are best to support them going forward. “

Other members of the global community are reaching out to show their support. Polish developer 11 Beat Studios behind This War of Mine has announced that it is donating all proceeds from its games to the Ukrainian Red Cross, and GOG has announced its support.

Earlier this month, as controversy escalated, game development agency Amber opened a new studio in Kiev. “Our presence in the Ukrainian market will not only strengthen our creative potential, but also send a timely and strong message of our support for our team and the wider Ukrainian game Dave ecosystem in Kiev,” Amber CEO Jem Glynn said at the time.

We at GamesBeat send our best wishes for the well-being and safety of the gaming community and all citizens currently living in Ukraine.

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