Game Insight gets new president, promises to develop core games

Anatoly Ropotov _ Photo

Anatoly Ropotov is replacing Alisa Chumachenko as president of Game Insight, Kanobu reports. Company moves to develop core games for mobile devices, promises 5 Unity-based games till the end of 2014.

Game Insight is well-known in Russia for its creative director Leonid Sirotin quotes, slamming down core gamers as ignorant cheapskates and praising casual audience. It seems that “ignorant cheapskates” are the new target audience for GI.

Update: Here is an official press-release in English.

Russia plans to ban crypto currency, might ban in-game currencies as well

Russian Department of Finances is planning to ban “surrogate currencies” in Russia. The law is clearly aimed at crypto currencies, such as bitcoin, but it is written so vague, that it might affect any other virtual (i.e. fictional) currency as well, including in-game currencies.

Apple Insider here worries that it will effectively put an end to in-game purchases. It probably will not, but game companies will have to replace their “gold”, “crystals”, “hairy gophers” with Russian roubles.

Or maybe not, you never know with Russian laws.

Changes to SMS laws will affect Russian gaming industry

Russian Parliament recently passed a law about SMS-spam and SMS-fraud. This law introduces a lot of much-needed changes into what many consider to be ‘gray area’ or even ‘fraud market’. Now SMS providers won’t be able to automatically charge you unless you explicitly agree to it via SMS of your own.

This law will also affect certain games in Russia, but, fortunately, not many. Five or six years ago SMS were the main source of payments in online gaming, but since then the share of SMS payments dropped to less than 5%. So some games might take a hit in their revenue, but it won’t be significant and probably won’t last as affected users will switch to credit cards and e-wallets.

Still, I’ve heard some SMS payment companies are now firing up to half of their staff.

Game Insight is moving its HQ from Russia to Lithuania

Now it’s official, Game Insight decided to relocate its HQ from Moscow, Russia to Vilnius, Lithiania.

Interestingly, I’ve talked to several people from Game Insight around a month ago and they claimed that company wanted to relocate one of its studios first before deciding on moving HQ. Either I was misled, or something has changed.

In unrelated news: Bloomberg reports that Luxoft is relocating 500 of its programmers from Russia and Ukraine to Bulgaria, Poland and Romania.

DevGAMM 2014 – indies, indies everywhere!

So, I’ve visited DevGAMM 2014 in Moscow last week. It took me one hour wait on Russian border where they’ve tried to check if I’m eligible to visit the country (Glory to Arsztotzka!), but it was worth it.

DevGAMM 2014 was surprisingly good: nice place (Radisson Slavyanskaya), a lot of visitors and indie-centered talks. In fact, you could easily mistake DevGAMM for indie conference, because a lot of game developers from big companies (Nival, Mail.ru, Gaijin and so on) visited DevGAMM as indies – probably because they’ve paid for their tickets themselves.

DevGAMM is obviously not GDC, but compared to KRI (so called “Russian GDC”) it is better organized, friendlier and more useful.

While I don’t recommend everyone from outside Russia or Ukraine to visit DevGAMM to learn something (most talks are in Russian), it is a great place to establish connections, find partners and talk to local game developers.

There is another games industry support group in Russian government

Remember that hilarious games industry support group in Russian parliament? The one with no actual game developers? It’s been holding several meetings since then, discussing, I kid you not, ban on long articles and non-patriotic games, and enforcing e-sports shows on federal TV.

Department of Communications on the other hand just started another games industry support group – this time with real game developers, including Wargaming, Mail.ru and 1C representatives.

Expect some kind of competition between those two, although my money are on DoC group.

Still, games journo group in Parliament generated a lot of hilarious proposals. I would love to see “maximum games article length” enforced.

4A Games is moving to Malta

4A Games, celebrated developer of Metro 2033 series, just announced its new office on Malta.

Well, I wrote about it before, so there are no surprises here. Current crisis in Ukraine isn’t helping games development much. Big publishers are simply afraid to sign projects from Ukrainian and Russian teams.

BTW, I’ve met with Andrew Prokhorov two weeks ago and their new projects look absolutely amazing.

The Sims 4 is rated 18+ in Russia

Next instalment of favourite game of young girls and housewives, The Sims 4 was rated 18+ “Not suitable for children” in Russia.

sims4

As I wrote earlier there is no official rating entity in Russia and all rating are issued by local publisher. In this case – Electronic Arts Russia.

Supposedly the game was rated 18+ because it features gay and lesbian relationships between characters.

GamesJamGAMM announces winners

So, that Games Jam about phobias is finally complete and no games about homophobia made it to finals. Damn it!

Winners are mostly playing it safe with fear of the dark, closed rooms and cats. Cats?

I Saw My Soul

4th place

soul

Dot

3rd place

061

Game about laser pointer, cat and mayhem.

Talk to Me 

2nd place

1

Breathing Fear

1st place

s3-bf

Survival horror about lone cabin in a forest. Classic!

You can always check other games at Games Jam site. In fact you should do it right now.

And here is a brief video about all Games Jam GAMM finalists.