Computer games can be found everywhere. They come as standard applications with our mobile phones. We buy them together with cereals. Websites are crawling with them. Some are even considered undisputed pieces of art. And they annually earn more money than even the movie industry.
Croatia is not the biggest country in the world, but it has a very decent presence in the computer entertainment market. Ever since Croteam’s “Serious Sam” won numerous Game of the Year awards, the country has been perceived as a place which, despite the small number of game-makers, will always have something to offer for gamers.
We spoke with Kresimir Spes, the lead programmer and co-owner of Cateia games, a computer entertainment studio whose products are gaining increasing attention from the market and which is one of the most successful companies of the kind in the region.
What is it like to be a game-making company in Croatia?
It’s quite a lonely experience (laughs). There are not many studios in Croatia which are concentrated only on computer game production. Many young enthusiasts begin passionately, but lose strength on the way, also losing the will to compete in a more complex market. And, bear in mind, it’s not easy to succeed in this market. Yes, a lot of money is going around, but to make your entry and stay above the red at the end of the month, it’s much more difficult then several years ago.
But, as far as Cateia is concerned, we are very pleased with our current state. We had a rough time at the beginning, but every start is like that. Today, we have a developed studio with contacts and good reputation which secures our stability and future.
What are Croats like as gamers?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I’d say we can be described as a nation which doesn’t play any more or less than other people in the world. Except Koreans. You can’t beat Koreans at that (laugh).
Generally, Croats can be considered hardcore gamers, meaning they follow the industry with dedication and are aware of shifts in it. But we have an issue, as most people in the ex-Yugoslavian region have. We don’t see value in games. It’s difficult for a Croat to give even as little as 10 HRK / 1.3 € for a game, because he simply doesn’t perceive it as something worthy of any money. Now imagine how problematic is for him to pay 500 HRK / 65 € ? It’s actually a global problem, but this region suffers from it more than the western world.
What is the story of Cateia games?
It all began in 1998, when my colleagues Ivan and Dejan started their production of strategic games in Rijeka. I joined their efforts in 2000. Since then, we have been the management trio of our firm. As time went on, we went through the education system, getting our high school and university diplomas on the wall. Around five years ago, we entered a more serious period as a company, and since then we have been growing exponentially. Today we are one of the most sought out and well-known firms in the casual game market.
We have 10 people working constantly on our projects, but we also hire additional associates or teams to perform certain job for us. Depending on the project.
What kind of games do you make?
By pure accidence, we are specialized for casual gaming, especially adventures and strategic genres. It was a good choice, because this part of the market is much larger than the hardcore segment. Meaning, in return, that games can made with more of a chance of recognition and less financial risks.
How long does it take to make a single computer game?
Between six months and one year. But we make around five different games at the same time, minimizing business risks and securing our stability. Today we also make much more complex games than before. The market wants it, and honestly, we can afford it (laugh).
What is your studio’s biggest success?
I’m happy to say that most of our games have been recognized by customers. Even our “failures” have managed to keep their heads above the water. But if I’d have to chose a single game which made Cateia what it is today, I’d choose The Legend of Crystal Valley. It’s not our best-selling game, but at the time of its debut, it secured us with the finances which were needed to run a successful computer entertainment company.
How are games actually made?
As in most cases in life, everything starts with an idea. After it’s polished, it goes before the graphic department, where imagery resources are produced for the programming team. There, everything is transformed into an interactive application. Then we start a thorough and complex testing phase. This is usually done with the help of outsourced work, usually game-loving students. With every bug crushed and feedback processed, the game is ready to be pushed into the market. Either by us ourselves or in association with a strong game publisher. The entire process can take a long time, especially because of market dynamics and platform tweaking. But the result is always worth it.
What are the future plans of Cateia Games?
Growing, growing and growing (laughs)! No, seriously, we plan to develop our work by hiring more outside teams. This will fundamentally increase our profitability and provide even better working conditions for all people working in, and with, Cateia.
This is important because, in Cateia, people are the most important thing. No matter whether they are owners or workers, it’s the people who take care of the company’s success. So it is in our best interest to secure good conditions for those working, and living from that work, to everyone involved. This was our guiding thought from the first day of Cateia, and it is still our final end in this business. Thankfully, I believe we are managing to stick to it.
Interested in Cateia’s works? Visit their official site and learn even more about their studio, business and various games “made in Croatia.”