Lithuanian government is looking to attract game developers

10 AM. Three officially dressed smiling young men appeared in Unity Vilnius office to explain Lithuanian government decided gamedev was important for the country. Now Invest Lithuania, the government arm focused on making foreigners happy, was put to this task. And here we go, Rej and myself are explaining the state of the game dev industry in the country, in the world and brainsturming on what does Lithuania do to attract world’s best like Electronic Arts or Wargaming. Funny enough, it were the Invest Lithuania officials who wanted to bring in these two.

Vilnius ranks first fdi

They started from changing the employment laws. In february the process of hiring a non-EU person gonna shrink in time twice, and then reduce to 2-4 weeks somewhere in late Q2 or Q3. The paperwork will be simplified for those getting at least 2000 EUR gross monthly. Finally, with the blue card (work and life permit thingie, just like the green one in the US) your family automagically get the life permit.

Next thing they did – a consolidated document on IT and gamedev in Lithuania. In fact, the country as tiny as Lithuania has about 30 studios busy making games, but only few of them are actually worth anything. So there is next to zero gamedev experience and history in the country, something, what is being worked on now.

Here is the doc with case studies and figures by Invest Lithuania. Read it, it makes sense. And don’t disturb Antanas too much.

Shenanigans

I am still digesting this all and just thinking aloud, you know… Government guys promising personally deal with whoever Rej and I reference, inviting us to their open space office and then following up with emails till 10 PM. The other day it was the senior tax inspector who made myself happy and inspired, and folks from the department of migrations were unbelievably friendly and helpful. And this is like the norm here, that public service works for people, not against them.

These small dots assemble into a nice picture of a place you want to spend your time in.

vilnius norbert durko

Challenges

Small country with small cities means no internal market. Whatever you do in Lithuania – make sure it is global, targeted at larger markets.

Government has been heavily focused of developing entrepreneurship since 2008, so now everyone just has their own small business – crafts, services, cafes, pizzerias and startups of various kinds and flavors. This makes it hard to get local talent do your job. This makes it hard to bring new products/services in.

There are traditions and expertise in web technologies, servers, databases, data centers, and enterprise of all kinds (reminder: here is the insight). But that is about it IT-wise. People understand apps and services, but just don’t get games yet. And I absolutely love our government decided to change that.

Now I am happy to introduce you to Invest Lithuania (their job is to help you do stuff here), answer questions about the country and explain living and doing business here. Ask away!

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  • Kostya

    Oleg, as I understand you’ve been living in Lithuania for a while now. Can you share your observations about the people? Are there many people who understand/speak English? Is native language harder to learn than English? What’s their attitude towards ukrainians/russians? Thanks!

    • Oleg Pridiuk

      Normally you’re able to communicate in English or Russian. In really rare cases you struggle with either. I’d say it depends on the industry, but Russian is more common in LT these days. We have more and more people moving in from Belarus and Russia, so public services got used to dealing with expats and rarely have problems with it.

      Lithuanian is darn hard to learn, pronounce, use… check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuanian_language#Phonology

      • Darius D

        Haha, nice link to the wiki, i hardly understand what that table means. Honestly, wouldn’t say that we have completely different ways of pronouncings consonants. Yes, it is different, but the way you use language is quite the same to some extent. Compare Russian / LT vs any version of Chinese, and you’ll know what i mean.

      • Kostya

        Thanks, Oleg!

    • Paul

      Lithuanian language is more complicated and much more harder to learn
      than English. If you are not a native speaker – you’ll have a lot of
      trouble learning it. Statistics show that we, lithuanians, get perfect
      in our language when we are 14-16 years old (comparing to 8-9 in
      english). People’s attitude towards russians are not that good –
      probably because of the negative history. same goes for russian speaking
      foreigners. Can’t say the same about ukrainians (lithuanians seem to
      like that country :) . This pretty much sums everything from business
      point of view – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPO4tbV4UHk . Hope this helps :)

      • marksplinter

        Lithuanian is not hard to learn if you already know one or two other European languages. The vocabulary is simple and the rules are pretty consistent, the spelling is phonetic (and Latin). The problem is that Lithuanians are told in school that they must speak absolutely perfectly, so they always tell foreigners it’s very hard to learn. Whereas, if you are an immigrant nobody expects you to speak perfectly and you can get along just fine with “broken” Lithuanian. It’s only hard to learn if you want to go fully deep into all the grammar (which is hard in any language, especially English). Most younger people and business people speak English anyway.
        I’ve been doing business for 10 years in Lithuania and as long as you don’t try to open a bar and compete with the local alcohol mafia, there’s really nothing to be afraid of. Just expect a bit more paperwork and stupid bureaucracy than in the UK. Invest Lithuania is doing a pretty good job at fighting that too.

        • Oleg Pridiuk

          There’s a survival tip from my Belarussian friend: speak to a Lithuanian in Russian, he’d struggle, offer to switch to English then, he’d agree and then offer to talk Russian in a few minutes ;-) Fixed.

      • Kostya

        Thanks for the info, Paul!

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