I’ve just finished recording How Games Are Made podcast with Dmitry Morozov, founder of Best Way company, game designer of Men of War series. It will go live in next couple of days, but it’s in Russian, so I’ll share some details with you here.
Much discussed Nuclear Union from Best Way was closed half a year ago right after Gamescom 2013. 1C-Softclub decided to focus on distribution instead of publishing and scraped it. It’s a pity, because Nuclear Union was actually 1C’s idea – they wanted to publish a Russian Fallout, every post-Soviet developer’s elusive dream.
Best Way owns assets and engine, but not the script, so they are remaking the project now. It will change title and story, but not the genre or setting. Best Way is looking for partners to finish a post-Nuclear Union (that’s my name for the game, not official one).
Dmitry Morozov also told us about Men of War Online, a PVP game based on Men of War multiplayer mode. This project is still early in development, but core gameplay will probably remain the same. Of course, the title will change as well, because Men of War brand is owned by 1C-Softclub.
Anton Logvinov, one of more famous and controversial independent games journalists recently ran a crowdfunding campaign. During one month he managed to gather 565 thousands roubles ($15,800) from more than a thousand of backers. Pledges varied from 3 roubles to 18 thousand roubles.
Anton is well-known in Russian games industry, having worked for Igromania and later for Games.Mail.ru. Anton runs his own production studio and creates video content for game companies, game sites and for his own Youtube channel. He doesn’t have as many subscribers as some other Youtubers, but his videos usually get a lot of views nevertheless. For example The Useless Mouth has almost 1,5 million subscribers, Gagatun has 670 thousands, while Anton has around 200 thousands.
Anton started his Youtube channel only in November, 2012. Despite that his GTA V review managed to amass 1,4 million views. He claims his videos have 2 million views monthly.
While 565 thousands roubles might sound a lot for a person, it’s obviously not enough to fund his studio.
Anton wasn’t the first in Russian games media to try crowdfunding, but so far he is most successful, other campaigns usually end up by collecting well below 50 thousands roubles.
Right now Anton is considering implementing premium subscriptions to his blog. Sounds like another interesting experiment.
Instead of publishing video review for inFamous: Second Son, Games-TV.ru ran this video:
In this video Ilya Gorodnoy makes reference to a missing review, claiming it was SCEE Russia (known here as Playstation Russia) fault. He says that Playstation Russia often “forgets” to provide Games-TV with review copies in advance, so they have to work with retail copies instead. Eventually that results in delayed reviews and missed deadlines.
Ilya says that Games-TV still might review Playstation games in a future, but he couldn’t promise anything unless the situation is resolved.
When I wrote about Russian age ratings and whatever Russia might add to that law in the future, I never thought it would happen so soon.
According to Izvestia, Russian MP Oleg Mikheev (“A Just Russia”) introduced several amendments to Federal Law #149. As you might remember that’s the one that regulates age ratings for media products including video games.
He is basically asking for ban on certain games despite whatever age rating they might have. Red flags are “war propaganda” and “ethnic, racial or religious intolerance”. Companies found to distribute such games will be fined from 100 thousands roubles to 500 thousands roubles ($2,700-$13,800). Pretty steep rise compared to current fines range (20 thousands to 50 thousands roubles).
Oleg Mikheev is particularly worried about two games: Maidan and Soldiers: Heroes of World War II.
Maidan is a browser-based game about Ukraine, where player has to fight in a future civil war for what is left of the country. The game was developed in Russia by branch of a publishing house Eksmo called Ethnogenesis and spearheaded by Konstantin Rykov, member of ruling “United Russia” party. In Ukraine Maidan is actually considered to be a pro-nazi game.
Soldiers: Heroes of World War II was developed in Ukraine in 2004 and became one of the bestselling WW2 tactical games of its time. It was published by 1C, now part of 1C-Softclub, a leading Russian games distributor.
P.S. I’m really sorry this blog is turning into political news outlet instead of gaming news, but that’s Russian reality today.
Vasily Sonkin writes for Kanobu about gaming industry preferences in various countries around the world. For some reason he forgets about several important ones like Canada, but praises both US and Singapore for their gaming industry support. Still, he thinks Russia is better with something like Belarus already has: government doesn’t help, but also doesn’t get in a way.
Svyatoslav Torick criticizes this article in his blog, noting that Vasily’s list is both inaccurate and incomplete. There is a reason, he writes, Wargaming.net, the most famous company from Belarus, is in fact registered on Cyprus.
And that’s basically it. Russian press isn’t writing much except for short news from GDC and some Dota 2 and Titanfall guides. Hopefully it will change next week. But it probably won’t.
You’ve probably never heard of Pathologic and that’s ok. The game never really took off outside Russia where it was released in 2005. But it was immensely popular in Russia and CIS countries and is regarded as one of the most influential games here.
Pathologic paints distinctively Russian (i.e. grim and hopeless) picture of medieval epidemic of unknown disease. Given the task to investigate this disease player has to make a series of tough choices, trying to save at least some of townsfolk all while conducting investigation and fighting for survival. Game is tough and unforgiving but widely loved by Russian audience.
Ice-Pick Lodge went on to create several more crazy games, including The Void and Knock Knock. Both were well received in Russia and both are largely unknown to Western gamers.
Now Ice-Pick Lodge is working on Pathologic remake or more precisely, new version. Nikolay Dybowskiy has recently stated that the new game will feature an updated story, different epidemic mechanic and changes to fighting, crafting and survival. And new graphics, of course, thanks to Unity 3D. Game might even change its English title to something more suitable.
If you’re interested in unusual games, this is the one to watch.
Microsoft’s Larry Hryb wrote that Xbox One will finally arrive in Russia this September. Meanwhile, Xbox One is already widely available in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, although at inflated prices.
No word on other CIS countries, where Microsoft haven’t even launched Xbox or Xbox 360 yet.
Sony dominated Russian console market for more than a decade, but in later years Microsoft finally gotten its foot in the door with Xbox 360. Decision to delay Xbox One launch by almost one year is seen in Russia as a step back.
Alexandra Pestretsova, former VP of marketing at Russian mobile game developer Game Insight joined Mail.ru European office as director of marketing. Mail.ru operates as My.com outside Russia.
Rumor has it after several years of unsuccessful experiments with B-class games on international markets, Mail.ru decided to go only for high budget free-to-play titles, namely World of Speed, Skyforge, Ground War: Tanks and one unannounced game from Obsidian Entertainment.
Obsidian Entertainment also helps Mail.ru internal team (called “Allods Team”) with Skyforge’s single-player.