FNE Film Meets Games: Q&A with Peter Nagy, CEO of Slovak Games Farm

    Peter Nagy Peter Nagy credit: Matej Hudak (Grindstone)

    BRATISLAVA: FNE spoke to Peter Nagy, CEO of Slovak Games Farm, about their current activities, as well as the state of the Slovak game development industry.

    Peter Nagy has been involved in game development for more than 20 years. He has unparalleled and diverse industry experience and has worked with some of the world’s most renowned partners like Activision, Ubisoft, Valve and Funcom.

    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 Games Farm founded and what have been your main missions and strategic projects so far?

    Peter Nagy: We founded Games Farm more than 20 years ago, around the year 2000. It wasn’t founded with a clear game development studio in mind, we rather organically started doing what we all loved: creating something, and game development offered us unlimited space in creativity.

    Since then we have collected a lot of experience, released dozens of games and worked on dozens more, until we became a well established development house with a clear mission: to develop outstanding RPG games.

    I think our first game Kult: Heretic Kingdoms (2004) was one of the most important projects we did – we learned the value of collaboration and that perhaps with the help of others we can create better games. This attitude is the foundation of our work, it evolved and propagates until this very day into Tristone, a hub for indie developers which we have founded recently, and into our open philosophy.

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

    Peter Nagy: If you think of building up things on green grass, that’s it. In Slovakia we started literally from zero, we were one of the two studios in Slovakia back in the day who heard about each other in newspapers. There were no events, no pool of developers, no experience, nothing.

    If you think of it, it creates an unlimited potential for your activities as there is no competition; but at the same time you have no background to draw from, no experience to utilise and you need to learn everything the hard way. And so we did.

    Until around 2014 we were more focused on the development itself but since then we have broadened our activities. Together with other colleagues from Slovakia we founded the Slovakian Game Developers Association, we have founded the publishing/production company Grindstone, we work with another fantastic developer Triple Hill, we have started meetups for the game development community in Kosice, which later evolved into the full scale conference Game Days Kosice. Most recently we have created the hub for indie developers Tristone, which connects all our activities and helps us to build up the entire ecosystem on a larger scale.

    FNE: Which games would you highlight from your company's portfolio?

    Peter Nagy: Well, Kult: Heretic Kingdoms was our first game and it kind of defined our direction. Although we did many different genres in the meantime to earn the money, we always leaned towards RPG space and did many prototypes and failures until we were able to return back to the RPG genre with the release of Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms in 2014.

    Since then we were able to continue our journey in RPG games with Vikings: Wolves of Midgard, where we used the third party engine Unity for the first time. Then we remastered and completed Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms and released it with Kalypso as Shadows: Awakening. Since then we have been working on several games, we expanded with our engine experience and some of our games hopefully will be announced in near future.

    FNE: Film and games convergence is a hot topic now. What can you tell us about the relationship between the gaming industry and film in your experience? Do you have any experience using VFX in terms of games?

    Peter Nagy: We see a massive overlap of the game industry and film industry. Originally it was more that the film industry was the leading one and games were playing a supporting role. However, at the moment we see the game industry taking a leading role instead, and we see many games coming into films. Also, where film industry was ahead with the technology, nowadays this advantage is eliminated and even the film industry starts using game engines for visualisation and soon it will be for final render as well.

    We have been working with some franchises in the past and we are rapidly ramping up our Unreal capacities so we can develop higher quality games and possibly reach into the film industry as well. We already have our own motion capture and will be looking to further increase our capacities there.

    FNE: What can you tell us about the Grindstone company which you also represent?

    Peter Nagy: The vision for Grindstone evolved during the years from funding only into a full scale production/publishing company with game conference organisation in mind. It will effectively be a “shared resources hub” between the studios under the Tristone umbrella, currently encapsulating PR, production, funding capacities, which will further grow with new studios and projects.

    FNE: Are games going to IPO on the Slovak stock market and do the companies going to IPO include a film person or film projects?

    Peter Nagy: Unfortunately the IPO market in Slovakia is non-existing and there is no reason for us to consider it for an IPO. However, there is large IPO potential for gaming companies in Poland or Nordic countries and it is definitively something we keep on our radar.

    At the moment we however focus on growing our activities and performance, as there is only one IPO we can do and we want it to be remembered.

    FNE: Are there any Slovak films that are being turned into games or Slovak games that are being turned into films or TV series?

    Peter Nagy: We must consider that Slovakia is a marginal market overall in size. Therefore, any Slovak film will likely have a low audience appeal globally, while games are a global product. Any development studio can earn much more money working with the global IPs, so there is not really any business reason for any game development studio to work with local film producers in this case.

    There might be some smaller productions, the largest one being developed into a game is possibly Peter Jakl’s Medieval (produced by J.B.J. Film and Double Tree Entertainment).

    FNE: How much is the turnover and how much % of expected growth in the Slovak Games industry? What can you tell us specifically about your company numbers?

    Peter Nagy: We see persistent annual YoY growth in Slovak game development industry perhaps around 20% annually, which is great. You can check this in our industry report. On the other side, a vast majority of the performance is driven by one large company Pixel Federation, so there is some work to be done on diversifying resources in the Slovak industry. Our companies have aggregated revenue of something below 2 m EUR, but I can see this increase in the coming years. We made some major changes in 2022 into our production pipeline and strategies, our games should start to be released next year, so those hopefully can bring some fruit to our efforts.

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

    Peter Nagy: We will definitively see the growth of the gaming industry compared to film industry and further evolution of cross-over activities both on the technology scale and in the public space. I believe that interactive entertainment will redefine film industry in 10-15 years when people will be able to enjoy the film experience in virtual reality and will be able to affect the flow and decisions in their favourite films.

    The entertainment scene in the next decades will definitely look differently from today, so there is a lot to look forward to in the future.