Since it was founded in 2007, Pingle Studio has established itself as one of the most trusted partner studios working in the games sector, offering services to developers and publishers such as Wargaming, EA, Square Enix, Zynga, 505 Games, Team17 and more.
Kovtun, the CEO, brings over 18 years of experience in launching new businesses as well as more than 15 years in gaming. Kovtun is results-oriented, focusing on delivering top-quality products by gathering a passionate team of gamedev experts. He has grown the company from five people to over 400, while working on more than 50 gaming projects.
Co-founder Kostyantyn Shepilov is an MBA degree holder from Kyiv Mohyla Business School. In his director role, he focuses on building the company’s architecture and management approaches and oversees the implementation and improvement of project management processes.
Pocketgamer.biz sat down with them both to find out more about the studio's origins, the way it works with partners, how it handles third-party IP and their plans for the studio's future.
Pockertgamer.biz: How did Pingle start, did you plan to focus upon outsourcing from the outset?
Dmytro Kovtun: “I've been into games since I was a kid, and meeting someone who loved games as much as I did encouraged me to try making them. We wanted to turn our fun hobby into a full-time job, so we started Pingle Studio."
Kostyantyn Shepilov: “At first, our games didn't do great, but things changed when some bigger game companies noticed the games we made. They saw potential and asked us to work together. Gradually, Pingle Studio became known as a good partner. So, we shifted from just making games to helping other companies with game development. But we're still excited to make new and amazing games and keep pushing the boundaries in the game world."
Has the studio stayed true to your original vision, or has it changed since you created the company? If so - how has it changed?
Our original vision has stayed true over time. We're still dedicated to developing talent and aiming for top quality. As we've grown, our management approach has adjusted to our larger size, but our commitment to talent and quality remains unchanged.
What studios and projects has Pingle worked on (that you can talk about) that you’re most proud of?
Pingle Studio worked on countless projects over the year, helping teams of all sizes to overcome their development hurdles, porting to other platforms or simply offloading part of their project. Picking just a few is as hard as choosing which of your kids you love the most :)
But here are two recent examples of our work.
Sandstorm Insurgency for which our partnership with the developer and publisher evolved to the next level as we got more and more invested in the project.
Five Nights at Freddy’s Nintendo Switch port saw our team of engineers investigate complex issues to optimise the game and deliver a stellar result praised by many players.
How big is the studio now? What were the biggest challenges getting Pingle to this stage of its journey?
The studio counts now over 400 employees spread across three locations. As we expanded, managing quality became a more complex task compared to when we were a smaller team. The primary challenge revolved around processes and maintaining high standards as the team scaled up.
Pingle seems to offer a full service to partners. What are your areas of expertise and what do you think Pingle’s unique selling proposition is?
Pingle offers a full range of services to our partners. We've honed our expertise for over 16 years and developed a special porting technology called PingleCore, tailored for Unity and Unreal. This tech makes porting games smoother and more efficient. Our current version has been improved over 16 years. The more platforms we work with, the better the results get. It helps us provide excellent service to our partners and tackle the complexities of game development across different platforms with ease.
At what stage does tend Pingle get involved in a games project?
Pingle Studio can come at any point in time. As early as the pre-production phase working on some art, to the porting of a finished product and everything in between. We are also about to launch a new service called Pingle Creates for clients who want to have an idea developed externally.
What is your approach to working with partners and what is your biggest challenge working with third parties (or IP)?
Our approach with partners is all about being adaptable, agile, and having a clear vision. We adjust to their project's unique needs, stay updated with the latest tech, and make sure our solutions match their goals. Our main challenge is explaining to clients why our solutions are the best choice. We work on effectively showing them how our approach fits their needs and leads to success.
What is the biggest mistake you see studios making when it comes to approaching large-scale game projects?
Based on our experience as a game development partner, a common and important mistake we've seen is depending on inexperienced experts for project estimates. This can lead to timelines that aren't realistic and misunderstandings about what the team requires, making it tough to produce a high-quality result on time.
Another crucial aspect often overlooked, many studios miss the mark on considering the need for porting when they start making the game. Designing the game with good optimisation for future porting can save a lot of time and money when it's time to do the actual porting process.
Are there any other areas of game creation/publishing that Pingle aspires to offer?
Absolutely! We are kicking off a new initiative called “PINGLE CREATES”. Pingle Creates pools our creative talent on specific games where clients need a boost of creative content, like narrative, level design and art.
We assemble leads for each Pingle Creates project and have our top creative talent assigned to develop the IP or concept we are working on. This allows us to expand our game development expertise down a more creative road and allows us to expand what we currently offer prospective clients. The message here is: “Give us your baby and we will nurture it and turn it into a marketable, profitable franchise".
What are the biggest growth areas in the games market in 2023 and beyond?
Full cycle development in the AA and AAA game areas is something we are growing into and ready to take on at full speed. We have the resources, the ability and most importantly the knowledge to grow into these areas.
Which emerging technologies do you find most exciting and why?
We are exploring and investigating new platforms like ROBLOX and UEFN. We feel there are opportunities for IP holders to showcase their licenses. We’re all ears with anyone who wants to make those games!
Where do you see the games market heading in the next 18-24 months?
Phew! That is a very difficult question and based on the events of 2022-2023, we hope to be able to support the industry with porting and tech support for any titles that have run into trouble with layoffs and short staffing due to the downturn in employment in the industry.
What’s next for Pingle?
In 2024 we’re going to focus on bigger, better things for everything we do. Bigger games, bigger clients, bigger projects. Our staff is better with the addition of two new VPs of publisher and developer relations to cover Europe the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), North America (NA) and Latin America (LATAM), the addition of Pingle Creates and more focus on narrative/game design staffing. It’s going to be fun!
Is there anything else you'd like the PG.biz audience to know?
We would like the industry to know that we are committed to providing the best tech specialists for their projects. On the creative side, we are staffed and ready to work and develop IPs that need an extra infusion of creative talent. There’s no project too big or small. Pingle is here, ready and willing to help out in any way we can.