Just hours after Kotaku has launched its feature piece called “How Lithuania built its game industry from scratch” Well known industry person, great blogger and creator of steam spy, Sergey Galyonkin tweeted that there are no games * industry * in that country, afterwards explaining, that lack of big game development companies is hurting the country.
You cannot really deny his words – there are no huge triple A studios in the Baltic states and a lot of time will pass before one will surface, but to have such companies like Tag of Joy, who managed to create an augmented reality video game Monster Buster or Lithuanian studio Nordcurrent is quite an achievement for a country that has only been creating games for less than 20 years. And it’s not only this. Lithuania is known to be obsessed with high-quality video games and boasts stronger traditions in the region. Lithuanian Global Game Jams are second largest in the world (counting attendees per capita), it’s the only country in Baltics, that had almost a dozen of dedicated video game magazines published in local language and home of the largest video game convention in the region — GameOn.
However, Lithuania hasn’t had any public discussion focused on Industry, until very recently. One of the largest local websites „15min“, published an article based on VAT returns received from foreign video game companies. For many, it came as a surprise, that Lithuanians spend more than a million Euros on Wargaming.net titles alone. Coincidentally Wargaming will have a strong presence in GameOn convention this year, but not the way some would expect. Wargaming’s global speaker and true industry veteran Tom Putzki will keynote the event, while on the show floors company will be eager to form some lasting alliances.
Going the right way
According to the head of Lithuanian Game Developers Association Gediminas Tarasevičius, people always tend to underestimate the improvement and progress of the game industry in smaller countries like Lithuania.
“We can be joyous about the things our game studios in Lithuania have achieved, but there is still much to learn. We learned not only to prototype but also to finish and self-publish our games. We moved from parents flats and dorms to studios. We formed teams, relationships, and local culture, but as with every business, same goes with video games. We need to evolve into global players, expand beyond our borders, discover new connections, form new alliances and publisher relationships. ” – said the head of Lithuanian Game Developers Association Gediminas Tarasevičius.
The small steps in the right direction which were mentioned by Gediminas Tarasevičius can be seen easily – in 2015 the first gaming convention in Vilnius called GameOn took place. More than a dozen local developers decided to take part in it and present their creations. One year has passed and the number increased with the developers engaging in a conference for game creators or using the event to meet people with the same fate instead of just standing in their booth the whole time.
Also, huge milestones by the industry should also be noted – they have been well received internationally – educational game for the family by Pepi Play has accumulated around 6 million downloads worldwide, TutoTOONS has more than 300 mobile games and around 200M downloads in total. The biggest blockbuster, of course, being Nordcurrents Cooking Fever, bundling well beyond 100M and locally revered for its partnership with FC Barcelona.
Just needs a little nudge
This year at GameOn local gamedev will have more than a few opportunities to up their level and find the global market – with the Wargaming Alliance choosing to back the indie village in the GameOn convention and Nordic Game deciding to run Nordic game Discovery contest at the event odds are more than good.
“We really look forward to participating in events like GameOn Vilnius,” we were told by Kirill Stadnik – Regional Publishing Director CIS at Wargaming, “we are able to connect to the broader developer community and help in making games a success. Wargaming alliance as a part of Wargaming.net company is a global publisher, knows the markets it operates in. We can help provide aspiring game developers with all the help and support they need, both in improving their game and publishing it.”
According to the developers’ association, local game studios also can’t wait to try their chances – because the results can be very rewarding.
“Normally it takes studio several successful launches or campaigns to even start a dialogue with the biggest, most known names in the global scene, but initiatives like Wargaming Alliance is a certain way to expedite the process and steepen the learning curve. This may work for at least some of our talents and it’s simply great, not to mention the possibility to be seen or get some advice from the experts of the trade.” – said G. Tarasevičius.