“Working in times of war is a heroic act.” | Pocket Gamer.biz

According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the invasion of Ukraine led to the flight of more than 2.5 million people from the country. Several game companies, including Supercell and Rovio, have started a cultural boycott of Russia, removing their games from the country. And charities and gaming industry luminaries have launched humanitarian initiatives to provide financial support.

But Ukrainian-founded iLogos Games Studios board members Svitlana Sergiichuk and Nikolay Minaiev, respectively business development director and CEO, and Natalia Kuz, production manager, wanted to talk with PocketGamer.biz about something. something very specific: take their own position on perseverance in the face of adversity.

PocketGamer.biz: The deleterious impact on the Ukrainian games industry cannot be underestimated. How has iLogos adapted its operation, both in terms of supporting its teams and business practices, since then?

Svitlana Sergiichuk: On February 24, at around 5am, I received a message from a business development manager at iLogos regarding the creation of a team composition for a new fighting game contract. I asked, “Why text me at 5am?”

They replied, “Well. I woke up with explosions at 4 a.m. and couldn’t sleep anyway. So I sat in a bomb shelter to work on the composition of the team for the game”. It was the first morning of the war.

The impact of the war on the functioning of the entire gaming industry was enormous. From day one, each of our studios has had to balance keeping their teams alive and well, providing the necessary support to the families of our teams and those members who have decided to stay and defend their homes, and ensuring that projects are not interrupted and that business is moving. cheeky.

This is actually the second war experienced by iLogos Game Studios. The company was founded in Luhansk, Ukraine, in the heart of the war zone during Russia’s 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine. A Russian missile was fired at iLogos’ offices in 2014, but luckily it was a weekend and nobody was inside.

In 2014, we successfully relocated 300 game development professionals and their families to safer locations. So, we were “lucky” to meet the second prepared war. Our work pipelines have been fully remote for eight years, and since the first Russian invasion in the Donbass, our infrastructure hosts teams spread across 13 countries.

We call it a fight, not on the battlefield but on the economic front line

Nikolai Minaev

We also put in place the business processes for emergency relocation – although we weren’t able to fully utilize them for this war, it at least gave some certainty in coordinating activities in the early days. . But anyway, it was always a challenge!

I want to point out that not all studios were equally prepared. According to gamedev.dou.ua, only 30% of all game development companies in Ukraine followed a remote pipeline. About half offered a hybrid remote/desktop work mode, while the rest worked on the desktop-first model.

So there has been a lot of adaptation work, which remains ongoing, for the game development industry, and iLogos is actively cooperating with other studios to help them adapt. This includes helping them transition to remote game production pipelines, establishing their own emergency relocation teams, booking group accommodations in the safest areas of Ukraine or in countries neighboring EU countries and to organize the rotation of their international and Ukrainian teams as reinforcements.

Nikolai Minaev: Working in times of war is a heroic act. We call it a fight, not on the battlefield but on the economic frontline, to keep the country’s economy and game development industry as vibrant as possible.

For this reason, our finance department works 24/7 to respond quickly to requests for emergency financial assistance. Likewise, our international teams have also been working almost 24/7 on production to support their Ukrainian colleagues who are relocating or temporarily unable to work due to their service in the Ukrainian Armed and Territorial Defense Forces.

Additionally, portfolio management is updated daily, defining the most critical tasks on the delivery schedule and the pipelines needed to deliver. Our relocation center fully supports and coordinates teams on their journey to safer locations, and our corporate psychological support center provides psychological help.

There has been a lot of talk about the industry’s immediate response. What are the main challenges the Ukrainian gaming industry will face in the long term?

Sergiichuk: The main risk for the industry, from a commercial point of view, is the availability of teams.

Ukraine is home to many game development R&D offices, including those of the biggest companies in the industry such as Ubisoft, Gameloft, and Plarium, among others. These companies employ more than 10,000 Ukrainian game development professionals, including programmers, artists, animators, game designers and producers. Ukraine is an important asset for the global industry.

From 2021 to present, the shortage of game development professionals in the industry is around 20% worldwide. Ukraine has always served as a reliable “back office” for the global industry. If it becomes unavailable, it will cause serious pauses in product launches and production plans worldwide.

So, above all, it is essential to protect Ukrainian talents. It’s a challenge – our biggest hubs were in Kharkiv and Kyiv, and both cities are bombed daily. We also need to ensure adequate safeguards for those who cannot work – increasing capacity with international teams.

The industry needs our talents and Ukraine needs a strong economy supported by the gaming industry

Natalia Kuz

What is more difficult is to guarantee the stability of our Ukrainian professionals, in terms of work and remuneration, and access to a minimum set of work equipment.

Natalia Kuz: Our main priority right now is to keep the ball rolling. Our projects must continue, the games must continue to develop. We are responsible for the projects of some of the biggest video game studios in the world and we will not allow the industry to slow down.

We understand that in times of war, it is very difficult to concentrate and set up projects. So we just want to lead by example and encourage all the other amazing studios in Ukraine to keep going and keep moving forward. The industry needs our talents and Ukraine needs a strong economy supported by the gaming industry.

You mentioned maintaining the workflow, what additional support does iLogos have in place to maintain it while protecting every team member?

Sergiichuk: First, our 24/7 Employee Relocation and Assistance Center assists our teams by following safe routes and free roads that are not yet bombed, providing assistance for the transportation and accommodation, and by collecting and systematizing all available information on volunteer services to be coordinated and provided. support across the EU. It even serves as an ad hoc commission of inquiry for demands, including the release of a cat trapped in an apartment in the epicenter of the bombings!

Kuz: As a studio that has been practicing remote work for over eight years with international teams, we already have a remote work pipeline. Since the war in Ukraine has been going on since 2014, this internal infrastructure has also been built to continue stable work.

In some teams, rotations and temporary replacements have been made in order not to miss deadlines or to stop the production process, and to allow people in active war zones to save their families and their lives. This has been possible thanks to the presence of strong and qualified professionals who can easily start working with a new team and a new project.

What were the most important elements to securing your new workflow?

Minayev: In terms of pipelines and processes during the war, the most important thing is to monitor all employees and resources per project on a daily basis. This requires quick decision making from our resource team.

We have a global map of talent resources by project and their day-to-day availability, and understand the back-up needs of our global teams – such as expertise, workload, availability and access to equipment of work. This requires constant contact with all suppliers abroad in order to use their resources in ad-hoc mode.

We have also temporarily changed the focus of our HR departments to support our existing talent with the resources and information needed in times of war. But despite the war, we continue to hire new talent in our teams. Although, of course, this process has undergone some changes.

Centrally, we are a mature and experienced company, so it is essential that we continue to share continuous updates with all of our customers and partners.

Support us, believe in us and help Ukrainians where you are

Svitlanka Sergiichuk

What continued involvement do you want the global games industry to maintain with Ukrainian studios at this time?

Sergiichuk: The most important implication that the global games industry can demonstrate is to continue developing games with Ukrainian studios! Most studios are making huge efforts to establish new hubs in Europe, with most successfully relocating, and are now eager to pick up new projects.

There are many ways we can show our support. What else would you like the global gaming industry to bring you?

Sergiichuk: Just be with us. Support us, believe in us and help Ukrainians where you are. Furthermore, it is essential that we TALK ABOUT this war and highlight all the crimes of the Putin regime in every way possible.

Here are some easy ways to help us:

  1. Share a post/photo/video to show what is happening in Ukraine right now. Only share verified information from trusted sources.
  2. Contact your Ukrainian friends, partners and customers. Every word of support counts now.
  3. If you have a spare room in your house/apartment, provide short or long term housing for refugees
  4. Join the anti-war protest in your city. Here is a link to an interactive map of peaceful protests.
  5. Donate money to the Ukrainian army or proven humanitarian organizations. Use only authorized resources, for example, official accounts of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU).

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