VK has started developing a Russian game engine. All the details of the announcement are in our transcript of the press conference

VK has started work on the creation of a Russian open source game engine. It allocates one billion rubles for its development. This was announced during a press conference with the participation of Maksut Shadaev and Vladimir Kiriyenko. App2Top has prepared an edited* transcript of the event.

The event was opened by the Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation Maksut Shadaev.

Maksut Shadaev

Maksut Shadaev: Russian game Dev is one of the most affected segments of the IT industry.

It is difficult for developers to develop under restrictions: some were forced to relocate their units.

At the same time, the industry has potential. And at the present moment, the state should lend its shoulder, provide specialized support measures.

First. Now the Ministry of Finance, together with industry leaders, is preparing a large bill that will allow:

  • pre-install games on mobile devices that are not from “app stores”;
  • it will provide an opportunity to make payments not through the payment systems of international technical companies.

Second. We are preparing a program to stimulate and support the export of Russian games to China. This can somehow compensate for the withdrawal from those markets where we have difficulties.

Of course, it is important for the state to support the emergence of games. Obviously, this will be a priority for the next three to five years. The state will support the release of new games. At the same time, I hope that the main task will not be to popularize culture, but still to make sure that these games are in demand by the audience.

Of course, it will be very difficult for us without replenishing and training new personnel. Let’s take up the preparation of a big story to ensure the influx of new qualified personnel.

We are very glad that at the moment there are no restrictions on access to modern engines. At the same time, we have to prepare for different scenarios. Therefore, having your own engine, your own infrastructure component, is very important.

The engine is the central element around which we will build our entire support policy.

We discussed for a long time the mechanics of creating such an engine, its place in the industry.

VK turned out to be ready to take on such an important and responsible social mission: to create an infrastructure, an open source engine that will be available to all interested developers, reduce barriers to entry and become, in case of restrictions, a possible replacement for other development tools.

We decided that the most effective way to work on an engine is to invest in technology, partner with developers, and form an entire community. All this is necessary for the engine to become a common industry infrastructure component that will be available to everyone.

Today’s conference is dedicated to the launch of this project.

After Shadaev, the microphone passed to Vladimir Kiriyenko, who in December 2021 assumed the post of General Director of VK. For reference, before that he was for more than five years Senior Vice President for Business Development and Management of Rostelecom. He is the son of Sergey Kiriyenko, First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation.

Vladimir Kiriyenko

Vladimir Kiriyenko: Today we are really launching a project to create a game engine.

We use open code. We consider the principles of open source to be the most optimal for developing such an environment. We involve the entire gaming community to create and build the best game engine.

At the same time, we understand that the games are an international story. We have always said that in order to be truly successful in the gaming industry, you need to create games that will be interesting to play both in Russia and abroad.

Game engines are used today not only in the gaming industry, but also in the creation of cartoons and feature films. Therefore, it is important for us to create a technology that will be used equally successfully both in b2c segments and in enterprise solutions, b2b directions.

We understand that the engine should have a low entry threshold so that it is suitable not only for experienced teams, but also for guys who are probably creating their first game. We are making an engine that will be available to developers with any level of training.

We will invest one billion rubles to develop the basic version. We believe that it takes at least one person to create it.

The team will include specialists of different competencies: programmers, technical writers, and artists.

We believe that the technology should be universal and allow the creation of any type of games for a wide range of platforms (engine developers will take into account the possibility of creating games for consoles, PCs, mobile devices and browsers).

We will also create a separate program for developers from the gaming industry.

Today, there are many solutions on the market that have created some elements of the game engine using proprietary technologies. It seems to us that by combining our efforts, we can create a truly high-quality product.

The project of creating a game engine is a complex technological process. We believe that the process of creating a game engine will take from three to five years. We will pass key milestones in the next two years.

Now we are starting, forming a team that will take up the development of key elements of the engine this year. In 2024, we plan to release the first beta version and start working with the gaming community. Then we will finalize and adapt the server solutions. In 2025, we will release the launch version.

This is the basic plan on which we plan to move.

The next speaker was Vasily Maguryan, who was previously listed as the CEO of MY.GAMES, and after selling the latter to Alexander Chachava for $ 642 million, became the CEO of the VK Play gaming platform.

Vasily Maguryan

Vasily Maguryan: I have been engaged in the gaming business in Russia for more than 15 years and I am sure that working with the community is the key to creating a high—quality and in-demand solution. Now there is such a need in the market.

As for VK Play, our main task is to create the best conditions for developers on the market, we want to help them create more content, develop and earn.

A couple of words on VK Play. Today it is a platform for game lovers, for developers and for content authors. Various solutions and services are collected here. We are both a game catalog, a streaming platform, a tournament platform, thematic media, and, of course, a cloud gaming service.

Now VK Play has 12 million registered users. More than 12 thousand streamers work with us. We have held more than 1100 tournaments, in which more than 200 thousand people participated.

Important: over the past six months, more than 600 new developers have joined us. 60% of them are developers who were previously published on the international Steam platform.

At the press conference, it was announced that the engine development group was headed by Alexander Myasishchev, who had previously worked in managerial positions at Nival for more than ten years. In recent years, he has been the executive director of Helio Games, which, like Nival, was founded by Sergei Orlovsky. As part of the event, Myasishchev talked about what the engine should be.

Alexander Myasishchev

Alexander Myasishchev: The engine is the foundation on which each team implements its idea as a media product. When a team chooses a base on which to implement its idea, it evaluates this base in terms of three criteria:

  • ease of use, convenience and price;
  • how many solutions and tasks can the engine perform “out of the box”;
  • the size of the community and the number of ready-made specialists who are able to work on this engine, plus the speed of training new employees.

Simplifying the search for specialists capable of working with the engine can speed up the speed of product development almost twice.

Ease of use and availability of ready-made modules inside the engine also significantly accelerate production.

In general, if we talk comprehensively about all these three parameters, then choosing the right engine at an early stage can speed up the future development speed up to ten times.

Actually, that’s why the choice of engine is so important.

There are a large number of products on the market today. There are both commercial solutions and free open source ones. There are also a huge number of highly specialized tools that allow you to solve only specialized tasks.

Anyway, the choice is wide. However, there are nuances. Commercial products are commercial precisely because they begin to monetize teams immediately when the developer himself does not have a finished product yet.

Commercial engines tend to offer a high level of tools. However, even they are not always enough. It often happens that a large number of modules have to be either completed independently or bought anyway.

Free engines are mostly underfunded. Therefore, when using them, each team spends a huge amount of time and effort to figure out the engine itself and fix its bugs on its own. Such engines are poorly supported and suffer from a lack of technical documentation. The latter does not allow you to quickly train and adapt new team members.

I was invited to discuss the idea of creating a Russian engine at a fairly early stage. I was very pleasantly surprised that the basic concept that was discussed within the framework of this project sounds like this: we want to earn together with developers, and not on developers. This is a much more ambitious task than just making your own engine.

As a person with extensive development experience, I understand very well the pain of my colleagues (this is also my pain) due to the fact that there are currently no sufficiently high-quality tools. Such a statement of the problem suggests that this toolkit may appear.

I am very glad and inspired that I was assigned to create a team that will implement this project. Within the framework of this concept, I understand that we are able to implement and support a very complex and interesting project, which, in partnership with VK, will allow us to use its infrastructure, its expertise, accumulated experience and funding in order to create a free open source product for all developers. At the same time, commercial quality.

We will be ready to listen to the opinion of the community of game developers, communicate with them, try to find the most optimal solutions in partnership with developers, and, of course, to motivate the creation of those modules that the market really needs.

The task of expanding the number of game developers and attracting new personnel to the industry is also very important. Actually, the concept assumes that the engine should be simple enough so that it can be trained to work with it in a fairly short time.

The last speaker at the press conference was Andrey Karsakov, head of the Interactive Visualization Lab studio and head of the Master’s program “Technology of Computer Game Development” at ITMO. Apparently, it was meant that he would voice his wishes for a new solution as a third-party game developer.

Andrey Karsakov

Andrey Karsakov: The problem that is being discussed today is very big, ambitious and relevant.

The main task of each developer is to deal with their product, their game. Always at hand, he needs to have tools that will help him in solving a specific task, and not put obstacles in his way.

As developers who have worked with a lot of different tools, we would really like the new engine to be free for everyone, not just for the most beginners.

We are not only engaged in development ourselves, but also for a long time we have been teaching new specialists in game development at ITMO. From this point of view, I want the new solution to have a low entry threshold.

To do this, it is necessary that the new engine has detailed and good documentation, as well as a wide base of educational and training materials.

Since now game engines are used not only when creating games, but also in many other industries, I want to have a kind of unified pipeline within this engine to solve various kinds of tasks.

Naturally, I would like the engine to be able to be easily adjusted to your own tasks, so that you do not have to spend huge efforts and funds on adapting it to your own project during development.

To ensure this, you need quick feedback from the engine team so that you can quickly get any answers, help with expanding the functionality.

An engine is not just a set of code that solves a specific task, but also a tool around which a full—fledged ecosystem of various third-party solutions has developed or turned out to be built, allowing products to be released to the market.

The point is that it is important for the engine to have good integration with services so that it is possible, roughly speaking, to connect various analytics services and other things in a couple of clicks without spending a lot of time on it.

I am very excited and glad that VK has decided to develop such a solution. In many ways, their approach is similar to how we imagine it in our heads. I very much hope that the company will be able to make a springboard for the development of both a technical solution and the industry as a whole. We are waiting very much. We really need another tool to teach the guys.

Kiriyenko: I want to emphasize once again that this is our joint path. This is a complex project that one company will not be able to handle. Therefore, we are open to any ideas, suggestions for working on the engine. Already now, communicating at the preliminary stage with many of the development companies, we are discussing partnership options.

And it is very important for us that this basic approach is taught already in the process of studying in the best educational institutions of the country. The gaming industry is huge, in Russia, from my point of view, the best developers who have achieved success in the international market. And today it is important for us to preserve these competencies and increase them using domestic solutions and the expertise that exists in the industry.

The event ended with a question and answer session. In total, four questions were asked by the media.

You can’t buy notable foreign releases on VK Play. How will you solve this problem?

Maguryan: The first. We are a platform open to all developers. We have a lot of services so that every developer who comes to us can publish their product. Second. We are actively working with external publishers. In the current situation, of course, they don’t really want to come to us. The third. We are looking at those markets that for some time were not very actively represented on our site and in Russia as a whole. These are, first of all, Asian markets. We hope that we will be able to show these alternative solutions on the site.

Kiriyenko: There are international titles that are not represented on the VK Play site. This is the position of the publishers of these projects. Our task is to create a platform and give game developers access to it. At the same time, there are large titles that have already decided to publish on the platform. For example, on February 22, the sale of Atomic Heart starts.

Naturally, we comply with all license agreements, so only those games whose copyright holders have given the appropriate consent are presented on the site.

We see positive dynamics. There are a lot of exclusive launches in pipeline right now. If the copyright holders decide to launch the game on the territory of Russia or the CIS, they often choose a key partner. And we see the dynamics that VK Play is chosen as a key strategic partner, often granting exclusive rights.

You say that you are negotiating with Asian partners, and with whom specifically?

Kiriyenko: We don’t disclose names. However, of course, we are looking at which games are popular with Russian players.

Is it planned to spend a billion rubles on the development of the engine only in 2023, or is this its total budget?

Kiriyenko: Our estimate of a billion investments is the total estimate of the entire project. This is an investment carried out by VK.

Additionally, we allocate more grants for market participants who can make a high-quality contribution.

We believe that we will definitely spend a billion on the development of the engine. This is a simple financial model. And we will jointly discuss grants with the community.

Is the fourth support package for IT companies planned this year?

Maksutov: I think we should stop thinking in packages already.

We are currently discussing several segments separately. For example, we are thinking about a specialized set of tools aimed at increasing the volume of venture transactions, stimulating the emergence of new startups.

Separately, we discuss everything that can be applied to the support of the game development industry.

We will not have a separate package, we will have a lot of very specialized focus plans.

We have already done some general institutional things that we could implement (from the point of view of the situation in the IT industry). Time to engage in individual segments.

*With direct speech, light contradictions, tautology, water inevitably arise, abuse of complex constructions is often observed, sometimes logic is lost. It’s hard to read. Therefore, when transferring direct speech to a text format, we edit it.

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