FNE Film Meets Games: Q&A with Gorast Cvetkovski, President of Macedonian Game Developers Association - MAGDA

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    Gorast Cvetkovski Gorast Cvetkovski credit: Macedonian Game Developers Association - MAGDA

    SKOPJE: FNE spoke with Gorast Cvetkovski, the president of the Macedonian Game Developers Association – MAGDA, about their current activities, as well as the state of the Macedonian game development industry.

    MAGDA is a non-governmental organisation established in 2013 to meet the needs of the game development community in North Macedonia. It unites the Macedonian gaming community and, for 10 years, it has been successfully organising the national edition of the Global Game Jam. Although this industry is young in North Macedonia, there is a large community of people interested in developing digital games. In terms of participants per million of the population, the Macedonian Global Game Jam events regularly rate very highly, coming in 5th in the world rankings, a position which might be expected in countries with more advanced game industries.

    Moreover, MAGDA’s debut year at Game Jam Plus resulted in North Macedonia being the country with the largest number of participants, which enabled five teams to get mentorship and to compete in the European semi-finals.

    Central and Eastern Europe is one of the most important locations for global games developers and studios, and artists in the region are increasingly working for both film and games. FNE looks at how these two sectors of the entertainment industry are converging and why this trend is important for the future development of both.

    FNE: When was the Macedonian Game Developers Association – MAGDA founded and what have been your main goals and strategic projects so far?

    Gorast Cvetkovski: MAGDA was founded 11 years ago to organise the first Global Game Jam Macedonia. Since then, we have organised 10 Global Game James Macedonia, multiple game development lecturers, as well as workshops. In 2021, the Macedonian team from Global Game Jam + won the Best European Game Award. One of our largest projects was MAGDA 1UP Game Dev online conference in 2021, where nine game development professionals lectured on most of the subjects required for the game development process.

    FNE: What is the current situation in the Macedonian gaming industry and what distinguishes it from the industry of other countries?  

    Gorast Cvetkovski: After the mapping of the game-dev industry in Macedonia by MAGDA and the Institute for Sociological, Political, and Juridical Research (ISPPI) of the University Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, we managed to locate 21 studios and individuals who develop games. If we compare it with Kosovo and Albania, then we are in a convincing lead, but if we stand next to Serbia and Bulgaria, then we are trotting quite a bit.

    In North Macedonia, there is almost no large AAA studio with its own offices, which means that our developers are deprived of the opportunity to see how work is done on such large projects.

    FNE: Video games and films are fast approaching each other and colliding. How is that reflected in North Macedonia? Are there any initiatives being launched that bring these two sectors together?

    Gorast Cvetkovski: In several countries around us, the gaming industry is tied to the film industry, but that is wrong. Unable to correctly identify the gaming industry, they associate it with the film industry because they seem related. They overlap in many ways but, in principle, they are completely different things.

    To produce a game, you need a game director, game narrative, screenplay writer, storytelling, motion capture, cinematographer, choreography, sound composer and sound designer, production, marketing etc. We practically have all these branches in different faculties. So, when a few additional subjects are added to the previous ones and this is put in a pile, we will get a faculty, an institution that can educate about Game Development and Production.

    FYI, at the moment the game industry in the United States has surpassed the film and music industries combined in terms of financial weight.

    FNE: Which Macedonian games would you single out that have had an international success?

    Gorast Cvetkovski: Tie Die from the studio Furious Avocado is a Macedonian unicorn. Up until now it has had more than 180 million downloads, which makes it the most profitable game that has come out of a Macedonian studio. Other than that, we have Raining Blobs from Endi Milojkoski, Odium to the Core from The Dark1, and our newest horror gem Mirror Forge.

    The year 2023 is supposed to be one of the best years in publishing Macedonian games since at least three-four big projects are due to be released. We hope they will manage to get their deadlines so we can have strong representatives on CEEGA - Central & Eastern European Game Awards.

    FNE: What can you tell us about the expected growth in the Macedonian Game Industry? How much is the annual turnover? Are there any companies working on both games and film, who are they and what are they doing?

    Gorast Cvetkovski: There are good fluctuations in the game dev sector in North Macedonia. In 2022 MAGDA and the Institute for Sociological and Juridical Research (ISPPI) did the first Mapping of the game dev sector in North Macedonia. You can find the report on our website.

    The games coming out of North Macedonia are mostly mobile hyper-casual games. The biggest success so far is Furious Avocado's Tie Dye game in 2020. Although the games don't cost hundreds of thousands of euros, there are still a few games that are quite good and innovative, and they rank well in online stores, such as Odium to the Core and Raining Blobs. It is interesting that at the moment quite large projects are in their final stage, so my estimate is that in 2023 we will have several Macedonian medium-sized games on the market.

    The state has no strategy or idea where to direct this branch, and the private sector is too small to be the guide in the game dev industry. Until these two things are synchronised, the trend of slow development will continue. There are improvements, but they are far from what they could be. It is necessary to implement game dev in education, in different ways to stimulate small studios, and to attract investors and large studios through different mechanisms that the state is capable of implementing in other sectors.

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