British mobile developer Lockwood Publishing has today announced the opening of its first international office in the burgeoning game development hub of Vilnius, Lithuania.
Lockwood, which just last week opened a third UK studio in Newcastle, expects the Vilnius branch to have a dozen highly skilled staff within the next few years.
"Lithuania has excellent developers, especially in the field of backend server development, and this opens up a gateway of talent not only from Lithuania but also from Russia and other countries in the Baltic region," said Halli Bjornsson, CEO at Lockwood Publishing.
The Vilnius branch will be focused on backend server development for Lockwood's flagship mobile game Avakin Life.
Lithuania already has a number of well-established game companies with offices in the region, such as Unity, Charlie Oscar, JetCat Games, and TutoTOONS.
According to the foreign direct investment and business development agency Invest Lithuania, more than a dozen game development studios have relocated from the Russian Commonwealth to the Baltic in the last couple of years.
Based on figures from the Lithuanian Game Developers Association, the industry in the region employs just 500 people but generates more than €100 million in revenue each year.
"It is a relatively small community that creates a lot of added value," said Virginijus Sinkevičius, Lithuania's economy minister. "Several successful studios that have relocated to Lithuania from Eastern Europe have propelled the growth further, meaning that the decision of any new foreign company to set up in Lithuania is a strong impetus both for the game dev industry and the economy."
Since its inception in 2009, Lockwood Publishing has developed eight original titles for the Sony PlayStation, iOS, Google Play and Amazon, but it is best known for its only live product, Avakin Life.
"In Lithuania, we already have about 7,500 active monthly users, which is no small number bearing in mind the size of the market," Bjornsson added. "Avakin Life is also one of the top 100 games on the iOS in Lithuania, which is great."
Currently Avakin Life is the sole focus of Lockwood and the developer has plans to scale the project as a platform, allowing third-party developers to create content.