In March 2022 the InGame Job platform announced the termination of partnerships with game development companies from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus and stopped the publication of vacancies from studios which have offices in these countries.
In an interview dated March 11, 2022, InGame Job CEO Roman Vasiliev told what is happening with the team members now, how the company plans its further work, and which initiatives are implementing on the base of the platform in order to help Ukrainian game developing specialists.
Roman, how did your day start on February 24?
I was at home in Kyiv. The day before, we have got the information that it might be necessary to leave. The day before, I collected documents and money, asked my wife to prepare a first-aid kit. On February 24, at 5 a.m. in the morning, my dad called me and said that the war had started and we had to get ready. I didn’t start acting at once, because I still could not believe it. I took the shower, went out to smoke on the balcony, and there – bang! — explosions. Then I finally understood: the war had outbroken.
We got ready in an hour and a half and left Kyiv at about 7:30. The car was previously filled with fuel just in case. Already there were huge traffic jams to leave the city: we were getting out for a couple of hours, although we live on the outskirts. We went to the boundary with Moldova, but closer to the night they stopped letting men out. My wife decided to stay with me. Late at night we arrived in Ternopil, where our distant relatives had an empty apartment. Now we are here, we live with several families with children, we work, sometimes there are air raid alerts, but in general it is still safe here.
Tell me, where were your team members at the beginning of the war and how are they doing now?
Technical director Maxim stayed in Kharkov under shelling at least for five days. Then he got out with his wife and child. On the first day they drove to Poltava for nine hours and it’s only 120 km away! Complete traffic jam. From Poltava they moved to Kropyvnytskyi, that took them another day, then one more day to Uman. At one point in Uman we ran out of fuel, we were looking for an overnight stay among all our acquaintances. I called about thirty hotels there, there were no options at all. I made a post on Facebook, a distant acquaintance responded. He came to Max, gave him a can of gasoline.
In a word, Maxim was getting to Ternopil for four days, now his family stays with us.
Our data manager Denis moved from Odessa city to the region a few days after the war started. Of course, it is also not safe now, but still more or less quiet.
And the rest of our guys are no longer in Ukraine. All other Ukrainians left earlier. We also have employees in Poland, Russia and Cyprus.
We had to part with our sales manager Aleksei from Russia when we realized that we were no longer working for the Russian segment. His bulk of income consisted of sales bonuses. And there will be no sales now.. We talked honestly about this, Aleksei took the situation very adequately. We paid him compensation in dollars, that is important, because something terrible is happening to the ruble. If Aleksey were ready to go somewhere to another country and had sufficient level of English, we would have kept cooperation with him.
We also have Olya, she is SMM manager, an employee from Russia. She has a very strong civic position, she was at all protest meetings. We worry a lot about her and her safety. Now we are looking for a way to go on paying royalties and arrange her relocation.
We are not ready to part with employees from Russia if they are not pro-Putin. I don’t say “pro-Russian” – I don’t like that word. It doesn’t matter what kind of passport a person has, the main thing is how he understands the situation. As a company we appreciate any support of our employees with Russian passports.
On what day of the war did you return to work? What has changed in it now?
The first few days we were all in a state of shock. First days we satisfied the essential needs such as physical security, a roof over our families’ heads, food, medicine. But after four days thoughts got back to work.
I realized that we need to do something further, and that we can go on with our mission – to connect companies and candidates, meaning to help people to find the job.
And in this situation, this is a really relevant mission. At the first stage, in the current conditions, people are evacuating and saving their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. And at the second stage, in order to go on with living the money is needed, work is needed. And that’s exactly what we can help with. We know how to do this, our main goal now is to help Ukrainian specialists find a new job or connect an entire team with a company that is ready to help with relocation.
First of all, we collected a selection of remote vacancies in European companies that are ready to hire Ukrainians. After all, part of the specialists will not be able to leave the country, men will not be able to leave the country and according to our Salary Survey they have 70% in the industry. The remote format is very relevant: offices in Kyiv and Kharkov are closing, investors are leaving, the specialists themselves may not want to continue working in companies with Russian roots.
The second idea was to form an open list of specialists who need to work and distribute it to foreign companies.
If at the beginning we had some thoughts to keep the Russian and Belarusian audiences, since they accounted for 50-60% in total, after all, by March 1 we abandoned these thoughts. Understanding came gradually. Generally it is just impossible and wrong to work with the Russian and Belarusian markets, there is the need to leave from there.
How can one publish vacancies with a Russian geolocation, help companies to develop… Of course, not everyone supports Putin’s political decisions, but he is the leader and he does not suit us. In order to work on with you, do something with your leader. Because when rockets and bombs fall on our parents, we will not post the vacancy “Unity Developer, Moscow” and help this business work. Business pays taxes to the treasury, after that bombs and missiles, which can then kill us, are bought with these taxes. That is the chain.
I am ready to refuse pecuniary benefit and start my business from scratch, but with other values, with European values… We will definitely get out.
(Roman gets interrupted when his wife calls, turns off the microphone. Opens the window, leans out into the street, listens attentively)
… Yulia said that we had an air raid alert. Somehow I don’t hear it…
Shall we have a break?
Not yeat. We have not gone to the basement these days, my son has chickenpox and fever, at night it is very difficult to run to the basement from the ninth floor… Today at five in the morning there was also an alarm in Ivano-Frankivsk, military facilities were hit with rocket. They are launched from Belarus and just in case an alarm is announced everywhere along the flight path – Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Rivne.. When we first arrived here, there could be five alarms a day: and you run up and down, sit in the basement for an hour and a half, then go out, eat something, then another alarm. It was difficult to work.
… So what were we talking about? Yes. Reorientation for European market. We are switching to English in our external communications… Yes, we really have an alarm, I have heard now.
Will you run to a bomb shelter?
No, we’ll stay here.
Trying to answer the question when it will be possible to return to the Russian market and start cooperating again, I would say the following: after power shift in Russian Federation. When the war ends, when the payment of reparations to Ukraine starts, when the territories return to Ukraine, when the world starts to rescind sanctions.
How do you support your employees now?
Before the war starts we paid salaries in advance, March included. As if we felt! We had money on our accounts, we understood that if something happened, these funds could be blocked for the needs of the army, for example, there are such legal mechanisms. These advance payments were very useful for our guys: for moving, renting temporary housing, arranging temporary household.
As I know during the war the company did not have much financial income. We will need a month or two to restore the cashflow. Now we just can’t even think of reminding to Ukrainian partners that we are waiting for transactions. We’re not focused on that right now. The most important is for companies to hire Ukrainian refugees, and we will provide work places for them.
We will ensure safety of employees maximally, when the fire line comes closer, we will help to evacuate, cover the essential needs such as food, warm rooms for temporary shelters and so on. Financially we were ready, last year we prepared financial reserves – 20 thousand dollars, it is enough to support our employees for a couple of month.
And then we will see.
In fact, only fifteen days of war have passed, although it feels like eternity.