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Cheap Eastern Europe development "gone"

According to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl project lead Anton Bolshakov, the days of cut-price development in Eastern Europe are well over, with project costs now lifted into line with the rest of the gaming world.

"The time when development here was cheap is now gone, so our budgets for development are now comparable to European or American budgets," said GSC Game World's Bolshakov, speaking in Ukrainian capital Kiev at a showing of his near-final game.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, an open-ended FPS, has been much delayed. The title was originally pegged for a 2004 release and is now slated to hit in March 2007. An extended development period of at least five years has been tough for the company, despite its traditionally low-cost location.

"For any developer it's important to have a big, well-established partner like THQ to work with," said Bolshakov. "Including us."

Bolshakov made his comments against a backdrop of the subject of outsourcing to India and China becomes a key issue for many in Western development. The recent Outsourcing Marketplace event in London proved a significant success as the lure of cheaper coding abroad increasingly attracts the attention of European studios.

GSC Game World achieved success in the 2001 with Cossacks, an historical real-time strategy game. The title spread to a full series which included a complete sequel and five products in total. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl has achieved near-legendary status with its long-running development.

Check back next week for our full interview with GSC Game World.