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Independent Game Development in Ukraine. Insights 2019

Individual development will certainly provide you with both marvelous creative freedom and challenging issues. Anyone who has ever tried a solo project knows how hard it is sometimes to go alone at some work stages. Management, planning and development are stressful each and might become exhausting altogether; at the same time when you fail you’ve only got yourself to blame.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Spring 2018 was a turning point in indy development world and game industry altogether. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was released — an AAA project, that was originally set up and developed by Ninja Theory team. There were only 20 people involved, that’s very few for AAA class games. So what’s the secret of innovative Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice?

  • being limited in funds was perceived like a chance to find some new solutions rather than an issue.
  • multitask team: everybody worked in a close connection so additional team roles could be assumed (the main role had been played by a stuff picture editor!).
  • project marketing was based on close cooperation with gamers community. In turn this allowed to fit in audience requests.

All mentioned above had helped to create a game product of high quality based on efficient innovative approach and freedom. It was absolutely unexpected though pleasant to achieve the high rates of returns. It is a perfect example of how initially little Indie Game not only managed to become a conceptual leap but also managed to produce great profits.

The project’s success has been a wake-up call to all indy developers around the world.

It proved that quality together with the unconventional approach are basic requests of future auditory.

A growing number of GameDev companies draw their attention to the Ukrainian market. Not only they search for outsourcing or outstaffing, but also they tend to establish their own R&D centers or work by SpaaS model.

Why outsourcing is becoming irrelevant?

The Polish phenomenal CD Project Red’s “The Witcher III” budget was approximately $85 million. At the same time only $25 million were spent for stuff designers and developers. Most of the money were spent for marketing, localization and follow-on updating with outsourcing / outstaffing teams involvement. Except for game’s roaring success the project could have failed to stand such a cost loading…

According to global market trends the lion’s share of it is represented by mobile game applications developing companies such as Plarium, Gameloft, Playtika. In addition to it world-famous companies with “AAA” projects are attentive to our market and highly appreciate Ukrainian game developers potential – Ubisoft, 4a games

Ukrainian market has got a fair number of prominent individuals and coordinated teams, being ready to introduce their projects to investors.

In recent years within DNA325  we’re observing the increasing need of establishing companies own R&D departments or offices. Big players tend to provide maximum opportunities for independent work and team members development. It provides the flexibility in choosing working tasks, job positions,  time for educational programs and vacations, that is absolutely impossible in the setting of outsourcing / outstaffing teams.

Ukranian GameDev Community

Our team reviewed the trends and insights of Ukrainian GameDev market. The best way is to seek people’s opinions, so we’ve engaged online community members into a dialogue. We’ve got a lot of useful information as a consequence of such an interaction:

Many respondents noted they associate the future development with VR/AR and a gradual transition into (Ultra-D), additional reality without any connection to specific gadgets. along with that some state that AAA projects which are setting the developing vector nowadays won’t disappear completely. Hype is hype, let it remain so, but high-budget photorealistic projects do occupy a huge niche.

Talking about platforms it should be mentioned that the profitability of game development market is constantly growing. Both PC and X-box games give growth by releases quantity but still yield on an issue of profit growth in comparison to mobile games.VR migrates to other markets absorbing medicine, education etc., but remains interesting to game developing industry. There is a certain decrease in browser games demand.  Unreal & Unity, regarding the technologies.

Innovations – the interest to use of Machine Learning and QA Automation is getting higher along the game developing process. As for specific areas, we should say that hyper casual and casual will certainly attract larger audience for their easy onboarding and cheap CPI. Battle Royale – the market is actually oversaturated by its subtypes. And slots will always bring profit.

Volodymyr Lymarchenko,, Unity Developer

Which are the brightest 2019 projects?

Some people were fascinated by Rise of the Makers, some got nostalgic about Call of Duty MW being remastered. Metro Exodus was considered to be the main hit of Ukrainian gamedev almost unanimously which is point of pride for sure!

Top Gamedev vocations:

  1. Middle/ Senior Unreal; Middle/ Senior Unity Developers.
  2. Senior Artists & Designers. It is usually based on specific market needs and personal affection for genre.  Cyberpunk fan may well refuse to work on fantasy project. 
  3. Sales & Marketing experts experienced in international market practice.
  4. Game QA, though as a rule demand is surpassing supply, especially among juniors.

What’s next? 

Many respondents of our survey noted they feel the lack of organized community and huge web portals where they could have shared their projects either to seek for advice. Many discussions appear to revolve around AAA projects, as indy enthusiasts success is in the shade of their scale. In general, it takes place wherethrough inadequate investment in indy projects as a whole and the absence of government support. At the moment there are no proficient training modules either university programs that could have developed this area in education.

All mentioned above results into an exodus of experts to other countries in search of better conditions and projects. Even though we’ve tried to record all the received ideas and comments we still feel that there is a chance we’ve missed somebody’s important opinion. In case you’ve got comments on this particular article or about GameDev industry prospects on further development in Ukraine – please, leave your comment. We will complement our article according to opinions shared and publish the updated version.