FNE Film Meets Games: Q&A with Anton Yudintsev, Founder of Hungarian Gaijin Entertainment

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    Anton Yudintsev Anton Yudintsev source: Private archive

    BUDAPEST: FNE spoke to Anton Yudintsev, founder of  Gaijin Entertainment, about their current activities, as well as the state of the Hungarian game development industry and its connections with cinema.

    Gaijin Entertainment is an independent European video game developer and publisher established in 2002. It has offices in Germany, Cyprus, Hungary, Latvia, Dubai, UAE and Armenia.

    Their HQ in Budapest is their main development hub with almost a hundred of highly professional developers working on online games for PC and consoles.

    Up to now Gaijin Entertainment have already developed more than 30 games for different platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox Series X|S, Mac OS, Linux, iOS and Android

    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 Gaijin Entertainment founded and what have been your main missions and strategic projects so far?

    Anton Yudintsev: Our company was founded in 2002 as a game development studio and started publishing games in 2012. Even today Gaijin Entertainment is led by developers and not some kind of “managers”, so we focus on projects that are both fun to play and allow us to push our skills to the limit.

    For the last decade we've mostly been working on free-to-play online action games both for PC and consoles, as this is the genre and business model we understand best. We’re also trying new directions; for example, we’ve recently launched our biggest mobile project, War Thunder Mobile.

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

    Anton Yudintsev: The majority of Hungarian game developers nowadays are in fact serving as outsource or outstaff studios for foreign gaming companies. While this allows their employees to work on high profile projects and get unique experience, they do not have much say in the direction of those projects. In contrast: we’re independent, so all development and publishing decisions are taken internally. Our employees have a chance to create their own thing, express their creativity and use their skills to the best of their ability.

    Hungary has much in common with other Eastern European countries, as it has solid IT education and a lot of young English-speaking people seek a career in the gaming industry, but the gaming market here is not overcrowded like the US one. So it’s a good place to hire more high-skilled developers and grow our business.

    Every month we welcome new programmers, game designers and VFX artists to the team. Even though most of the team works remotely, a lot of people prefer to go to the physical office, and Budapest is really a nice city to live and work in.

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

    Anton Yudintsev: Well, in many ways video games and film industries were even closer in the 90s and early 2000s than they are today. That was the time when nearly every major action film or TV series release had a tie-in video game title (or even a few of those). Hungarian studios played their part in that boom and produced literally dozens of games based on films. For example, Appaloosa Interactive developed titles like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Crossroads of Time, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jaws Unleashed, South Park, and others. Clever’s Games, another Hungarian studio, worked on Terminator 3: War of the Machines first-person shooter, and Zen Studios created Ghostbusters: The Video Game.

    That trend died out since then, and the most recent example of Hungarian games that have much in common with films are the The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing role-playing game series by Neocore Games. They are mostly based on Bram Stoker's novel, though, and share only the character name with the films.

    FNE: Do you have any experience using VFX in terms of games? What can you tell us about your experience, vision of game cinematics and important to mention, AR/VR content creation?

    Anton Yudintsev: Our games are not cinematics heavy, as they are focused on PvP online battles and not the story mode, but VR is quite important for us. Our flagship title War Thunder supports VR for many years, and we’re also working on a separate PSVR2 title called Aces of Thunder that is focused on WW2 plane simulation.

    Generally speaking, vehicle simulation is a good genre for VR, as players quite easily adapt to the illusion that they are inside of a plane or a tank, and the controls are also more intuitive than they are when playing as a human character. VR plane simulation allows the player to actually experience the feeling of a flight in the skies at high speeds while sitting comfortably on a sofa, and that’s truly unforgettable.

    FNE: What can you tell us about your War Thunder game?

    Anton Yudintsev: War Thunder is the most comprehensive military vehicle action game ever. While there are other games that do a good job in recreating certain types of warfare (i.e. aerial dogfights or tank ground battles), War Thunder excels at showing combined arms battles where air, ground and naval war machines fight together. We also cover more than 100 years of military vehicle design, starting with pre-WW1 battleships and going all the way up to the modern machines.

    FNE: Which Hungarian games would you single out from your portfolio that have had an international success?

    Anton Yudintsev: Our flagship title War Thunder that is being developed at our Budapest HQ is most definitely an international hit. It has over 75 million players, the popularity of the game grows each year and the game makes international news quite often whenever someone talks about military videogames and their fans. Basically it’s almost a household name.

    Enlisted, our WW2 military shooter game, is also quite popular. Most of the work is done at the Darkflow Studio in Riga, Latvia, but many visual features are developed by our in-house graphic engine team in Hungary.

    FNE: Are there any films, animations and TV series from Hungary that are being turned into games or games that are being turned into films, animations or TV series?

    Anton Yudintsev: There was also the interesting case of Yoomurjak's Ring, a Hungarian-made interactive film promoting the city of Eger. It was a good Myst-style adventure game with live actors and real city footage as visuals. Honestly, this is the only example I remember.

    FNE: How much is the turnover and how much is the percentage of expected growth in the region? Are there any companies working on both games and film, who are they and what are they doing?

    Anton Yudintsev: We do not measure the Hungarian gaming market as a separate one or do forecasts on it, as we publish our games worldwide and the majority of our players are based in the USA, UK, Germany, France, Japan and South Korea. I think this is true for any company, as smaller regional markets are not enough to support game development.

    There are Hungarian companies that work on 3D cinematics for major video games, and that should probably count at “working on both games and film”. For example, Digic Pictures is quite big, it worked on cinematics for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and dozens of other AAA games. It also did some VFX for the Terminator 3 film in the past.

    FNE: How do you see the development of the relationship between the film and games industries?

    Anton Yudintsev: The latest trend is probably that the film industry is generally seeking inspiration in video games: just take a look at The Last of Us and Halo TV series or Super Mario Bros. and Tetris films. There are interesting cases of game engines used for production of films or TV series (i.e. Unreal engine used in The Mandalorian). Video games stories have a huge untapped potential, and videogame visual language is something that hundreds of millions of gamers understand and appreciate.

    Read 3807 times Last modified on 05-09-2023