ENTER THE DRAGON Interview with Dragon’s Lake CEO Sergii Miroshnychenko

Dragon’s Lake CEO Sergii Miroshnychenko reveals how the Limassol-based multi-genre development studio has become a major player in the global gaming industry. By Athena Yiazou

Loving what you do, selecting the best people for the job and inspiring them to do their best are just some of the key ingredients in Dragon’s Lake Entertainment CEO Sergii Miroshnychenko’s recipe for professional success. Headquartered in Limassol, Dragon’s Lake is a multi-genre PC & console game development studio and part of the Room 8 Group, a video game holding company that brings together expert teams providing external game development services around the world.

Even if you are not a devout gamer, you are certain to be familiar with the global-leading platforms Dragon’s Lake works with, including PlayStation, XBox, Nintendo Switch, Steam, Epic Games and Stadia. And, even if its been a while since had a game controller in your hands, you will have heard of the top-selling games Dragon’s Lake has been part of developing, including but not limited to Outriders, Godfall, World of Warplanes, a number of the Assassin’s Creed games, Call of Duty Black Ops, and others.

Noting that he grew up playing video games and is now enjoying the gaming world from a different perspective, Miroshnychenko became Dragon’s Lake CEO in February 2020. He has a Master’s degree in Computer Software Engineering and, prior to his current position, was COO at Awem games and HR Solutions Director at Luxoft. Miroshnychenko told GOLD that, while Dragon’s Lake finally ‘went live’ in February 2018, it had benefited from Room 8 Group’s decade of experience in the field.

“Dragon’s Lake was formed as a AAA division to deliver higher quality and AAA-focused games,” he said. AAA refers to high-budget, high-profile games, typically produced and distributed by large publishers.

This mission translates into four main services: the co-development of games, their full development, creative services, and porting and remastering. A significant part of what the company does is to ultimately create the best possible gaming experience and ensure games reach platforms bug-free.

A recent example of what Dragon’s Lake does was helping Counterplay Games port their Personal Computer (PC) and PlayStation 5 (PS5) game Godfall to PlayStation 4 (PS4). The company focused its engineering and technical art talents on the porting and optimisation aspects, which were done in parallel with the PC and PS5 versions, to ensure that the visually stunning game would continue to offer players the highest possible quality experience, even on the less powerful PS4.

“Our task was to bring the game to the previous generation console while maintaining visual fidelity to make sure that the audience experienced the same feeling and the same excitement,” Miroshnychenko noted.

For this particular project, a 25-person team was used, which the CEO noted was relatively small for the AAA gaming sector. Other gaming projects can involve teams of up to 1,000 experts.

Acknowledging that players are becoming more demanding than ever, Miroshnychenko said that two new team members – Creative Director Peter Cherkes and Producer Mark Greenshields – had recently joined to help further develop the creative side of the company’s offering.

Their appointment saw Dragon’s Lake Entertainment grow 20-fold over a two-year period, to more than 110 team members worldwide. While not all are currently based in Cyprus, Miroshnychenko is confident more of the company’s staff will relocate to the island in the future.

“I have been in Cyprus for something like four years already, so I’m pretty local!” he joked, adding that once under-consideration changes to the labour laws were implemented, many more members of staff would join the several who are already here.

“Everyone knows that Cyprus is a pretty stable country for an IP holding. It is the right place for business, especially for the Information Technology (IT) business,” Miroshnychenko said, adding, “We do expect to grow our capacity here and to bring more senior staff members to Cyprus.”

He revealed that Dragon’s Lake was already discussing relocation to Cyprus with some existing employees, noting “Based on my own experience, I advise people who work in my company to relocate here because it is a great place to live and a great place to work.”

Miroshnychenko is confident that the company’s plans for “growth, growth, growth” will be successful. As well as the many platforms it is already familiar with, the CEO revealed that Dragon’s Lake is preparing for a future including new devices and media such as the Metaverse, Google’s Stadia platform and Amazon’s Luna.

“We will be able to work with them as well, as this is our core business. We are going to develop all necessary expertise,” he underlined.

On other developments in the future, Miroshnychenko divulged his confidence that gaming would continue to steal market share from television and films, “This (gaming) is also part of the entertainment industry and we are seeing audiences switching from the TV to game consoles and PC games.”

This growth, he continued, would, in his opinion not be slow as some predict, but rather “like rolling down a hill, going faster and faster.”

While not directly affected by Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store charges for featuring games, Dragon’s Lake’s CEO is abreast of wider gaming developments including the recent court case between Apple and Epic Games. The latter had challenged Apple’s restrictions on apps having other in-app purchasing methods outside of the one offered by the App Store. Ultimately, the App Store was found not to have been in violation of antitrust laws.

Miroshnychenko said that, even if his company was not directly affected, the proceedings had created “a lot of insights” for everyone in the gaming sector. Regarding its highly driven nature, the CEO said that competition was a positive element.

“We cannot see progress without competition. Right? So, whether it be competition between the App Store, or Google Play, or any other store such as the Chinese stores, competition is good, because it pushes us and forces us to be stronger and faster, to offer higher quality and reliability,” he said.

On Dragon’s Lake’s future, Miroshnychenko anticipates further significant growth in revenue and headcount.

Returning to his personal recipe for professional success, he was succinct, “Well, there is no secret actually. If you are doing things right, you will get the right result.”

He elaborated, “What helps me is to be efficient in hiring people. My approach is then to inspire them, as opposed to forcing them to work.”

The CEO also keeps a close eye on how things are being done in other sectors. “A lot of industries are way more ‘mature’ than IT, like banking, or mining or metallurgy,” he said. “We can see what tools they are using and how these can be applied to IT. This is something that I am doing right now and something that has brought about pretty good results.”

Ultimately, his success is also due to his love for his work. “You need to be passionate about what you’re doing. When people ask me about going on vacation or how I like to rest or wind down, I always respond that I don’t get tired because I’m doing something that I really like!”

He added, “I have been playing games since childhood and now I’m actually working in the gaming industry. What could be better? I am working with some awesome people who are sitting beside me right now and making great games.”

He noted that this enthusiasm for his work was evident in the company’s financial statements as well as in stakeholder feedback. “The secret is to love what you are doing.”