Lockwood Publishing, a British game developer founded in 2009, has announced it is branching out to Vilnius, Lithuania, which will host the company’s first office outside the UK.
The Vilnius team will be responsible for backend operations for Avakin Life, the company’s signature free-to-play 3D mobile virtual community. In the next couple of years, Lockwood expects to have a dozen highly skilled employees running the Vilnius office.
“So far, the company has been working out of offices in Nottingham, Newcastle and Leamington, which will now be complemented by the new team in Vilnius,” says Halli Bjornsson, CEO at Lockwood Publishing. “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.”
The Vilnius team will most likely comprise up to 15 backend server developers. Although many of the current employees have an MSc or PhD degree, the company is primarily looking for experience and programming skills.
“What we offer is the opportunity to work on a successful and fun product that combines the best of two worlds – mobile gaming and fashion,” Bjornsson continues.
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 Avakin Life, a 3D mobile app giving users access to a vast online virtual community.
Inside the world of Avakin Life, users can customize their avatars with the latest fashion trends and hairstyles, design homes, make connections, chat with friends and visit multiple destinations such as cafés and nightclubs. According to the company, the app is especially popular with female gamers, who make up around two-thirds of the 3.5 million-strong global user pool.
“In Lithuania, we already have about 7,500 active monthly users, which is no small number bearing in mind the size of the market,” the CEO explains. “Avakin Life is also one of the top 100 games on the iOS in Lithuania, which is great.”
The company is currently fully focused on Avakin Life and has plans to scale the project as a platform allowing third-party developers to create content.
Lithuania is already home to a vibrant game development community comprising such companies as Unity, Charlie Oscar, JetCat Games, TutoTOONS and many more. In the last couple of years more than a dozen game dev studios from the CIS have relocated to the Baltic country, according to the foreign direct investment and business development agency Invest Lithuania.
“According to the Lithuanian Game Developers Association, the industry employing just around 500 people generates 100 million euros in revenues per year,” states Virginijus Sinkevičius, Lithuania’s Economy Minister. “Thus, it is a relatively small community that creates a lot of added value. 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. “
“The country’s game development ecosphere is growing rapidly, with local teams being complemented by transplants from the East and the West,” says Mantas Katinas, managing director of Invest Lithuania. “It is great to see Lithuania becoming the meeting point for professionals with different backgrounds who are ready to teach and learn from each other.”
Source: Invest Lithuania