For almost three months there has been a war in Ukraine. The shock and consternation are already over, people have come to life, some have returned to work. Many people combine work with volunteer activities, and some even with duties in the territorial defense. Some have gone abroad, some have stayed. But everyone has to perform tasks that they never had to perform before. And everyone has to make difficult decisions.
In this article we will talk about what is happening now with Ukrainian studios and professionals, the processes that are being created in the industry, and the main efforts to be focused on.
Companies are longing to keep alive
In a situation where some investors have left the Ukrainian market and many specialists are unable to continue their usual work, companies are making efforts to survive or even to progress. In the conditions of war game studios are deploying programs to support their employees, continuing to pay salaries even to those who are not in touch. To save a business is also important because in this way companies support the country’s economy.
Of course the reasons for the decrease in the number of vacancies in Ukrainian companies are completely clear. From February 24 to March 31 there were 65% fewer vacancies. However, if you look at the chart below, you can see that in Lviv, in contrast, there was an increase in vacancies: on February 23, 2022, Lviv studios offered 83 vacancies in total, and a month later there were 118.
In the latest list of vacancies from InGame Job, you can see open positions from companies such as Thundermark, Plure, Kevuru Games, SuperPlay, Program-Ace, Holmgard Games, GAMEPACK and others.
Priorities have changed a lot.Previously everyone was afraid that people would not work at home, but now Western clients are wondering how we can continue to work in such conditions. Yes, performance suffered for a while; everyone had to get used to the new reality: some needed to change their locations, but everyone continued to work, because sometimes this is the best way to escape from doom scrolling, and to do something useful and important for your country economically.
Now the main focus is to save the team and enable people to continue to earn money. Clients are now very loyal to us and are ready to continue cooperation. This is incredibly pleasing and motivating. We have also opened new vacancies and continue to search for Unity developers. It is very important for us to create new jobs for Ukrainians and help to support our economy and country. It is here — in the rear — that we can make the greatest contribution and bring our victory, which every Ukrainian now dreams of, even faster!
Specialists combine work with volunteer activities
Very few people are now not engaged in charitable and volunteer activities. Some teams split up: half help people in crisis situations, half support game development processes, and everyone is paid. Some specialists are completely involved in volunteer activities, yet still receive support from their companies.
We need ongoing financial support.Those Qumaron employees who settled down in more-or-less quiet areas returned to work. There are guys who joined the territorial defense unit; while returning from duty they continue to make games. Some of our employees help Ukraine on the cyber front. Some of our employees are engaged in information assistance: They help people who are moving to find answers to questions on legal matters and so on, to collect instructions and post them in volunteer chats. Together with several directors I am engaged in the supplies to the platform at Lviv railway station from where refugees leave for Europe. We have announced that we are raising a fund. A lot of people supported it. We need ongoing financial support.
I thank Ubisoft for paying my salary at this time.I am collecting financial support for my crisis supply project for the local territorial defense unit, Armed Forces of Ukraine, re-equipping schools, which are now shelters for refugees coming to Ternopil from evacuation areas. We buy pillows, diapers, and so on.
I thank Ubisoft for paying my salary at this time. Half of this salary and even more I give to volunteer activity. We didn’t really count but during the past three weeks we have spent about 120-150 thousand hryvnia, particularly on the volunteer activities that I am involved in with my husband and family. Part of this money, about 40 thousand, was transferred to me by friends when I put my card on social networks.
Remote work format is more relevant than ever
The remote format is more relevant than ever: offices in Kyiv, Kharkiv and other cities are closing; investors are leaving, and specialists may not want to continue working in companies with Russian backgrounds. Men cannot leave the country, and there are about 70% of them in the Ukrainian gamedev, according to the Big Gamedev Salary Survey 2021 (conducted by InGame Job and Values Value).
For example, the InGame Job platform, realizing this fact, constantly publishes a list of vacancies with a remote work format for Ukrainians. Also InGame Job promises to arrange additional promotion of vacancies for companies that are ready to hire Ukrainians.
Fundraising is arranged
Many gaming companies have announced money transfers to support Ukraine. Among them are Embracer Group, Activision Blizzard, Supercell, Unity, Gameloft, and Zynga.
Some companies have created special promotions within their games through which players can help Ukraine. For example Epic Games, backed by Xbox, channeled all their revenues from Fortnite from 20 March 2022 to 3 April 2022 for humanitarian help to people affected by the war in Ukraine.
Initiatives from game companies are collected by volunteers on one platform “Games for Ukraine”. Here trusted organizations also register, raising funds to help Ukraine.
Charity initiatives within the community
A group of volunteers from the companies Values Value, InGame Job, GDBAY, Games Gathering and DevGAMM, as well as individual industry representatives collected applications from Ukrainian teams, asking them which difficulties they are currently experiencing and what help they need. The goal of the project is to connect Ukrainian teams with foreign companies that offer help.
The range of assistance offered is quite wide, from discounts and special conditions for various services and working tools for relocations, to searching for investments, publishers, clients for outsourcing, and service businesses.
The organizers of the initiative report that Ukrainian studios most often ask for financial assistance and help with the search for clients. Many outsourcing companies have ceased cooperation with the Russian market and they need new clients.
In addition, the organization team collects applications from Ukrainian specialists who need a new job and connects them with foreign companies open to hiring professionals from Ukraine.
You can read more about it here: StandUpForUkraine.
On the platform with vacancies from InGame Job, we launched initiatives to help Ukrainian gamedev specialists. Why is it important? At the first stage in the current conditions people are saving their lives and the lives of loved ones, who are evacuating. And at the second stage, in order to continue to live somehow, people need money and work. Some people have lost their jobs. Our main goals now are to help Ukrainian specialists find a new job or connect an entire team with a company that is ready to help with the relocation. We have formed, and constantly update, an open list of specialists who need work, and we distribute it to foreign companies. We also constantly update the list of companies ready to help and distribute it to the responding candidates.
Breakdown with Russian and Belarus markets and strengthening of relations between Ukrainian partners
Companies have left and continue to leave the Russian and Belarusian markets, terminating relations with clients. Many have ended cooperation with specialists from Russia and Belarus who work remotely; sometimes this is defined by political decisions, sometimes by the inability to pay salaries under sanctions.
Among the companies that have made statements about the termination of cooperation with the Russian and Belarusian markets are Values Value, InGame Job, Kevuru Games, and Games Gathering. DevGAMM canceled a conference in Moscow.
In response to these decisions, some candidates from the Russian Federation began to create blacklists of “nationalist-minded companies and HR who represent them.”
Russian and Belarusian companies are now faced with a choice of whether to move their business to other jurisdictions or to work with the isolation from the global market. It is likely that companies that are relocating to other countries and providing open and financial support to Ukraine will be able to continue cooperation with Ukrainian companies after the end of the war, but at the moment all this is just a conservative assumption; there is no way to predict something seriously at the moment.
In any case, the statement declared now (and not declared as well) will have consequences. For example, the investment community launched an initiative to track the statements of investors with Russian background about their attitude to the war. Those who were silent, who didn’t make any public statements are put on the “red list” since they are deemed to who agree with the actions of the Russian authorities. Those investors who have clearly stated their anti-war position are included in the “green list.” You can check these lists here.
As for Ukrainian companies, many people have noted how the war highlighted the hidden talents of many professionals, showing how Ukrainians can work, and at the same time help each other, even while the sirens are wailing. Teams are consolidating; companies are extending their hands of support to each other, and this will all continue after the end of the war.
The war has become a litmus test for the working relationship built over the years. Some lived up to expectations, some surprised us unpleasantly.That means if you had 100 proven partners, after the war there may be 30, but these will be very strong relationships for many years. In general I think that we have to stand up for these 30 with all that we can and not lose such people. They are the future of Ukraine!
Hiring will never be apolitical again
Communication with candidates will probably no longer be exclusively about experience and wishes for work. This refers first of all to candidates from Russia and Belarus, who will need to answer political questions.
I saw in the first days of the war a post from an IT recruiter who said that she would help candidates from the Russian Federation and Belarus in finding employment only if they provided evidence that they helped Ukraine humanitarianly or financially, or went to anti-war meetings. And it seems to me that many recruiters will have such a position. Yes, there will be monitoring of social networks in order to check on the support of Russian aggression or support of Ukraine.
There will be more war in games
A lot of our colleagues report that it has become very traumatic to play favorite war games now, but apparently, military-themed games will appear on the market after the truce, which will — covertly or overtly — depict the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In general, this is already happening. For example, the Diia app, together with iLogos Game Studios, launched the mobile game “eBayraktar”, in which you can control the Bayraktar and destroy enemies’ vehicles. In such a way the creators of the application raise the morale of the Ukrainians and give an opportunity to relieve stress.
In addition, volunteers released the MuskVSPutin game to support the Palianytsia Fund. In this browser game, you have to fight on behalf of Elon Musk against Putin and representatives of his regime. “Defeat Putin alone and help us stop the war!” the authors write.
Nowadays I am playing less; I’m really ticked off by the previously adorable Clash Royale. Now I don’t want to play war games. But I understand that I would love to get stuck into some city builder. But you know what? We will all get stuck into it offline when we win!
- Despite the war, game companies continue to work and to support employees by paying salaries. Some companies continue to create job opportunities. There is an increase in vacancies in gaming companies in Lviv. The remote work format is more popular than ever.
- Ukrainian gamedev specialists who either left the country or stayed there often combine work and volunteer activities. In addition to general humanitarian initiatives, there are also initiatives being created to support the gamedev community.
- World gaming companies provide financial support to Ukraine.
- Relationships with the Russian and Belarusian markets are broken.
- Hiring is no longer apolitical.