What is happening in the game development market now? What trends are there in the MENA market? How to assemble a strong team of specialists? Is this a good time for game developers and is the investment paying off?
We talked about all this with Vildan Fazylov and Evgeny Neverov, the founders of the international game development studio RedPad Games.
Tell us about your team: how many people are already in there, from which countries?
We have a distributed team and several offices that ensure the speed, quality, financial efficiency of product creation, as well as legal transparency, plus the comfort of project management. For us, only the qualifications of people matter. We dreamed of developing gamedev in our native region, giving local specialists a chance to get together.
On the other hand, professional experience is pretty significant for games. Gradually, we hit a balance and assembled a unique team, which is about 50% located in the office in Almaty. We relied on very skilled leaders with a huge background and a willingness to to work tirelessly and share their knowledge with juniors. We have gathered and raised seniors who are full of desire to make game changing and complex games. At the same time, we cordially take a small percentage of promising young generations to develop the market and provide ourselves with a fresh look and the spirit of their healthy audacity.
The team has a division into specialists and directions, but games are complex products and it is important that all the team is fully immersed in the project, on the same page. We do not have such a thing that one department is responsible for something and we are just waiting. Everyone works and cooperates so well with each other.
And, of course, we are constantly looking for new specialists and careful growth of the core team. We are constantly looking for new specialists and growing, as we have great ambitions and the next launch of Dustland is only the first serious step, the first platform.
What project are you currently working on?
Well, in short, Dustland – is a fresh breath of survival. A clear, but deep game cycle, an extraction shooter where raids, looting, and battles are just a veil, hiding the mysteries of the world from you. It’s a captivating adventure spanning over ten seasons, where revealing the truth will impact and change the world. Only a few will be able to reach the real right answers.
What difficulties did you encounter while developing the game?
There are a dozen of them. This is a complex, long and very exciting process. Every day you are in the epicenter of a living, knocking down, and incredible work of a cool team. How to control a racing car when there is a steep race track under the wheels, then a sudden repair or off-road. And the rules of the race change, like the mood swings of a teenager. We need service, repairs, and communication. There are no small and unimportant tasks, you can’t get distracted and you depend on every detail. And at the same time, the impossible excitement and delight from every success and movement forward.
How much was initially invested in the creation of the game? Was there any interest from foreign, local investors in your project then?
In our field, and in general, business does not like to discuss the exact amounts of investments. But usually AA-scale projects require 20-30 million dollars before the first contact to the audience. AAA is 30+\-% more, but everything is way more complicated here – this level of quality does not have a list of specific criteria, and that’s why, the average cost in the market is already a more complex category. The funds go to the production of the product and the creation of infrastructure, an ecosystem around the first and future products. Game development is a very complicated story about budgeting, prioritization, building processes and teams.
Is this a good time for game developers? Why?
These days are contradictory economic times for many. The Covid pandemic has had a negative impact on many areas of life, but it has practically not touched the gaming niche. But, unfortunately, it is already clear that the delayed effect and the general economic consequences have reached even to us.
Games themselves are one of the least vulnerable industries, flexible and, in reality, very important for people. Entertainment, socialization and skill development are necessary and important at all times, especially in crises. And we know that our market will be one of the first to return to its previous steady growth. Now is a good time to create something serious and of high quality. For beginners – to break into the market. Build something new. But now the time is not very easy from the point of view of investments, it makes the teams more collected, stricter to their results and documents.
In your opinion, in what direction will the computer games market develop in the world?
They will play more and more on everything (it seems to me, including household appliances), and the willingness to pay for games will become more familiar. But the requirements for quality, service, novelty and uniqueness will grow. The market will become more specific, the entry threshold for newcomers will be tougher. It seems that games will connect more closely with other directions, form ecosystems, metaverses. So far there are many obstacles for the metaverse, but the need for this is visible. Whether this happens or not will largely determine the growth of the market.
And what about the MENA game dev market, what trends and prospects do you see?
The gaming market remains in formation, with few famous large-scale game developers in the region thus far. Meanwhile, we see that the region has emerged as an appealing market which is not only a place of investment and development, but also a place for players to use the product.
Investments are growing rapidly, and game development is reaching a new level. Investment and venture funds are increasingly ready to support startups, their number has significantly expanded here over the past 5 years.
It is very surprising to see such a rapid growth of investments and very different, bold developments within the region. The region has a very cool startup potential now. But even more interesting is that some of these activities are related to the development of interest in games within the region.
Publishing and development of the region is always a very big challenge, which pays off well, but requires serious investments and the combined interest of developers, investors, and the state.
For our part, we view the MENA region as an exciting, high-potential market for our growth. Сommunicating with local partners and investors in the region, receiving support and investments, we became interested in the market in a broader sense. We plan to work in this direction not only in the sense of fundraising, but as one of the priority regions of operation.
We do believe that not only we have the capabilities and resources to succeed in this space, but also the ones who will work with the region, develop local specialists, infrastructure and change the approach to local users without dismissing cultural diversity.
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October 5, 2023