Game Industry in Ukraine

What do you think about when you think about games? Those silly things your child spends several hours on each day? Children’s toys, unworthy of attention, once puberty hit? An uninteresting and distant thing you know very little about? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those, this piece is for you. And if you answered ‘no’ to some of those, it is also for you, because we all need to be on the same page.

Games as an industry

Everybody knows that to make a movie, a book or a music album, they need a lot of funding and time. All of these are giant media industries, that have crazy money rolling around. Games industry is not an exception to this rule. Some games are made through half-dozen years by teams of over 50 people with multimillion dollar budgets. This list shows the most expensive games in history. The most popular gaming service nowadays, Steam, has more than 125 million registered users and nearly 12 million of them play games at any given time.

Games as art

Although this topic is still controversial, but at least for me personally games have become art. It is enough to look at such exhibits as Transistor, Planescape: Torment or Journey to understand, how much talent and hard work goes into them. Parts of their souls stay in their games and you can feel it. Pure and real aesthetic pleasure. The discussion still goes on, and both sides have their arguments fleshed out, but the existence of this discussion and its civilized manner has a lot of merit to it.

Games as a hobby

It is undeniable that a lot of people consider it worth their time to play video- or boardgames at their leisure. With strangers on the internet, family at home or friends in a noisy party, games offer countless ways of having a good time, having fun, being provoked to think about important topics or become a part of the experience, that was unreachable in any other way. So do not be afraid of games, do not put labels on them, do not get held up on stereotypes. Somewhere out there is a game you would like and become richer for having played it one way or another.

A sad situation that needs changing

All this gets us to the situation with game publishment in Ukraine. We have no targeted laws for it, the state is not regulating the publishing process and Ukrainian localization. Remember how the situation changed with film, when they got a law going, that made it obligatory to voice over all movies in Ukrainian? Nothing similar has happened to games (yet). It is a bit better with boardgames because they’re tougher to ‘pirate’, which means getting an illegal copy by illegal means. Stealing it, for all intents and purposes. But theft not considered theft by law is not really one, is it?

Pirating is the biggest problem of modern Ukrainian videogame publisihing. Several times our country was the leader of media pirating ratings. Most Ukrainians, when asked about it, will answer ‘Why would I pay when it’s free on the internet?’ And really, it’s free, available and… in Russian. Most of the time, it’s Russian. Don’t you see the problem here?

Big publishers, when looking at their sales in Ukraine, see very low numbers, and obviously, they are not fast on spending money on Ukrainian localizations. Because Ukraine is a country where their game is going to be stolen, not purchased; a country where no one needs a game in their own language because for some reason everyone is fine consuming media in another language. This is how the publishers see us.

Let’s think about it this way: you’ve found a foolproof method of getting a pack of pasta out of the supermarket in between your other stuff. If you steal a pack of pasta every time you go to the supermarket and pay for everything else, and the whole country got in on your trick, in time the pasta industry would go bankrupt. Of course, I exaggerate, but the argument should still stand. Games are a product to be payed for. People that made the game have to get their salary, have to get payed for their work. Games are not inferior to pasta and you don’t steal pasta… do you?

Game Industry in Ukraine

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