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Posted on Mar 4, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Commenting on the Industry pt.1 –

Editorial Staff

Published: 04/03/2004
By: Ryan Newman

The videogame industry is an interesting one. Instead of pretending like I know much about it, I decided to ask some folks who actually do – we do, however, reserve the right to continue to gripe and complain. This is the first in a series of articles we’ll be having with developers and publishers who are either new, smaller outfits, or just not well-known in North America, comment on topics regarding the industry, including their ordeals and successes. Some will have a single title under their belt while others will have several, but we feel that all of the companies are worth taking note of due to the quality of their work. We thank the participants for their time, and we certainly hope you enjoy yourselves as well.


First up is Recently, the European-based company put out the Massive Assault. Not only did I enjoy my time with the title, but so did others as it was recently nominated for ‘Best Strategy Game of 2003’ by one of Russia’s premier online gaming publications, Absolute Games. While Massive Assault may be getting all the attention, they have also been running DBA Online for some time now. DBA, De Bellis Antiquitatis, is a tabletop wargame that uses miniatures to represent historical battles*. The company also runs the DBA online club.

Commenting on our topics below is Victor Kislyi, president of Special thanks to Nick Katselapov for the assistance. And away we go?
Commenting: Victor Kislyi (President)
Country of origin:
Number of employees: 20
Year of company’s creation: 1998
Working on: Massive Assault II (working title)

Titles Developed/Published

DBA Online (PC)

Massive Assault (PC)

Eastern Europe seems to be gaining momentum, with adventure titles leading the pack. Comment on the current state of software (gaming) development now and its future there:

Eastern Europe is not only keen on adventure games. Recent years have demonstrated that world-class strategy, FPS’s and RPG’s are made here as well. I witness that software development industry in general is boosting in the region – with many western giants opening their development centers in Moscow, Minsk, Kiev, St. Petersburg, Prague, etc. The number of skilled software professionals is permanently growing. This factor is definitely a favorable one for the gaming industry development – now the Eastern game development and publishing companies are not those groups of enthusiastic students, but well-organized business-oriented enterprises. Currently I cannot see a single reason for the gaming industry in the Eastern Europe to stop growing.

Mistakes made and corrections:

Marketing. It’s definitely one of the most crucial and maybe most difficult part of the game development. You know, you need not only understand the western gamer’s needs and way of thinking, but also pay attention to the specialty of various regions. As for’s Massive Assault, I wish we could work more closely with our western publishers at the earlier stages of the project, researching and elaborating on the marketing aspects of the game.

Advice for companies who have yet to release their first game, or still contemplating entering the industry:

This piece of advice will be derived from the above mentioned "lack of marketing" problem – the earlier you start talking to your publisher about the marketing issues (such as game’s positioning, target audience, distinctive features, advertising/promotion methods, etc.) – the higher your chance for success is. You should make sure that your publisher is concerned about marketing, and has appropriate marketing and distribution channels.

Financial hurdles of a smaller company – how to: rebound from a poor seller/secure capital to start up:

That’s always a huge problem, as far as I know. What can I say – of course every development company should pay special attention to funding. Nowadays it’s harder and harder to receive any advances from the publisher, especially if the project is in early development stages and if you are a small or first-time developer – thus you must make sure you have enough money to complete the project and moreover – you would better have additional funds to keep the company going for a couple of months following the Gold Master submission or in case the sales are not rolling as well as expected. There is no universal solution – I can only mention the standard funding methods, such as external investment, loans, profits from other types of software development business, personal savings, etc. Moreover, I should say that funding is also a headache due to the projected budgets usually tend to expand. was lucky to have "friendly" software development companies, which helped to survive the hardest times.

Competing with large companies in the realm of advertising and shelf space:

It’s always hard. I personally have never heard a small developer saying that dealing with the retailers or advertising was an easy walk. Obviously, the retailers are doing their own hard business and really effective advertising requires tons of up-front money. We think that did a good public relations job during Massive Assault’s development, which in many respects served as advertising. Our publishers happened to have quite good ties with the retailers.

Cracking foreign markets (Asia, North America, etc.):

As for the North America and Europe, we were initially heading for these markets, so they are not exactly "foreign". Naturally, Russia and former USSR was quite an easy task. As for Asia – yes – it’s a tough market for a west-oriented game. We have already signed for China, Japan and Korea are still not yet covered by Massive Assault, though we are talking with a couple of companies. Everybody knows that Asian gaming market is different and you should pay great attention to local culture, language entertainment traditions, etc. when making and marketing games for this region. It’s also obvious that you have very little chance for success without a solid local publishing partner. OK… we’ve decided to take them from the South, first having established Massive Assault’s base in Australia.

Open topic:

In regards to this "hard developer’s life" topic, I would like to add that I do remember our team starting the business about 5 years ago. Of course, we had read dozens of those articles and interviews describing all the horrors and problems a new development studio would face. And we were sure it wouldn’t happen to us. But now I can look backwards and say that almost all the predicted hardships has fallen upon our heads plus tons of other problems. However, when at the end of the day the success is coming – it feels so rewarding!

* If I’m wrong, I’m sure someone from or will have no problems correcting me.