Hi! My name’s Isaias Vallejo, and I’m the Director and Executive Producer for Big Fish. I recently got a chance to sit down with Vladimir Savenkov, one of the owners of ERS Game Studios, and talk to him about their company roots, successes, and challenges. ERS is known for several successful casual game franchises, including PuppetShow, Redemption Cemetery, Dark Tales, Spirits of Mystery, and many, many more!
Can you introduce yourself and your team for our readers?
Sure. My name is Vladimir Savenkov, and I own the studio with my friends Ruslan Pismennyi and Eugene Veremeiev.
Can you tell me about where the name ERS Games Studios came from?
ERS stands for the first initials of the founders.
So, wouldn’t it be ERV Games Studios?
I didn’t join the company until 2007. Originally, it was Eugene, Ruslan, and Sergey, but Sergey is no longer with the company. We joke that the ‘S’ now stands for Savenkov.
Can you tell me a little about the company’s first game?
Sure. Our debut was a game Dragon’s Abode. I’m not sure anybody remembers this game, because it was not a great success.
I remember the game. It was a Match-3 game, and there was a dark wizard who was trying to stop you from progressing by casting magic onto the board. I liked it!
You’re the only fan! So, after that game, they decided to do Hidden Wonders of the Depths. It was shortly after this game that I joined the company.
Good decision. So, then ERS went on to make Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure games? Steve the Sherriff and PuppetShow were some of your early HOPA releases. Yes. We had some other games that weren’t as successful, but they were all great learning experiences that helped us form the company we have now.
How many games have you launched?
I don’t know – I lost count! This year, I think we’ll launch about 15 Collector’s Edition games. But there’s more to the launches now, because we also have to create the standard version, the Mac version, versions for the 10 languages Big Fish supports, iOS versions, and now Android. Each single game is very complicated.
Is it worth it?
Of course! Other platforms generate additional revenue. We’ve stopped thinking about a game as just one product on one platform. That kind of thinking doesn’t work in today’s market. Now you have to think about getting out to every platform as quickly as possible to use the whole potential of a game and to bring it to broader audience.
What do you think is the future of casual games?
We’re looking at the Free-to-Play model right now. It’s very interesting to us, and we want to do something there. But we still believe in making these premium casual games. In fact, we’re planning on releasing even more Collector’s Edition games next year. There’s something special about telling a story in a game.
What’s your favorite game and why?
I was asked this some time ago, and the answer hasn’t changed. I still think Redemption Cemetery: Curse of the Raven is my favorite. It has a dark atmosphere, but the stories are about how one person can help make a big difference in someone else’s life.
Do you have any last thoughts for ERS fans out there?
First of all, I would like to thank all of our fans for playing the games we develop. It’s a great pleasure and honor for us to develop a game that many people like and play. Our team is always open to their feedback and suggestions.