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Onwards and Upwards

Jon Hare explains Nikitova's strategy following the sale of Kenjitsu to Oberon

Fresh on the heels of the completion of Showtime Championship Boxing, its first title for Nintendo Wii and DS, Nikitova Games is making moves to quickly cement its position as a new leading European developer of games on the Nintendo and Sony formats.

Nikitova Games is the full game development division of Nikitova LLC, one of the world's strongest providers of art assets production and game programming for hire on all platforms, and the mother company of Nikitova Animation and Nikitova Mobile - which specializes in porting of mobile titles to over 500 handsets.

Following Oberon's purchase of Kenjitsu studio, Jon Hare, Nikitova Games' director of development, gives his thoughts exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz on the strategy of differentiating the full game development focus from the games services side of the company as a whole - something he says has been thought through very carefully for some months now.

For Nikitova in general it is 'business as usual' and under Olya Nikitova's leadership we will continue to provide our usual art and programming services on ALL platforms including casual games platforms.

However with regard specifically to full game development it has been my long held belief that to specialize in a handful of formats is definitely of benefit to both the quality of the titles produced and the streamlining of the development pipeline.

We have worked very hard in recent months to create the infrastructure on which to build these production processes and I am very glad to have the company's support in this regard

After much analysis of our team and the market we eventually concluded that the best focus for Nikitova Games as a developer lies outside of both the highly competitive world of casual games and the rigours of developing AAA titles on Xbox 360 or PS3. I believe we will stand a much better chance of flourishing as a developer on the mid- range platforms such as the Wii, DS and PS2.

As a group we intend to continue to focus on providing art and programming services on all platforms from our two studios in Ukraine and to grow our full games development work around the Nintendo Wii and DS, and Sony PS2 platforms in our Kiev Studio and in the UK during the coming year.

Eventually our goal is to establish Nikitova Games as one of the major European game development companies for these platforms.

With Showtime Championship Boxing now under our belts we already have two more Nintendo/Sony titles signed and in production for 2008 and a number of others lined up to follow.

We are working on a mixture of both third party IPs such as Showtime and Casper Scare School, and our own IPs such as CCTV and Mind Games.

For me as a games designer Nikitova represents an unbelievable opportunity to go back to what I enjoy best, making good quality, innovative games. But in order to achieve that objective we first need to be realistic about our aims both creatively and business wise.

There are some unbelievably talented artists and programmers in this company, and I would like to think that we have game design covered too. But I know from my own past experience that the secret of success as a developer is as much about the formats you develop on as it is about the titles you choose to do and the quality of the staff involved.

In recent years we have seen several big development teams almost taken out by inadvertently making just one bad decision with regard to developing the wrong high end game at the wrong time with the wrong publisher.

Equally with some serious players now around in the casual sector the competition is really hotting up and independent survival at the less ambitious end of the development spectrum is getting tougher and tougher.

The most exciting thing for me is that following my recent business trip with Olya to all four corners of the country, it is obvious that what started off for us as a seemingly crazy experiment in Anglo/Ukranian co-operation last year is now gathering momentum and that after some initial skepticism people are now really understanding what we are about, can see that we can get a quality job done, and are very keen to work with us.

The galvanization of UK companies to the better companies from the rest of Europe is becoming essential in order for us Brits both to retain our European identity and to stay in business.

Jon Hare is director of development for Nikitova Games.