Game Changer

Interview with Apella Games CEO Aleksandra Rudis

Cyprus has already made great strides to create the conditions for the development of a thriving and sustainable tech sector and has the potential to go even further, says Apella Games CEO Aleksandra Rudis. Here, she talks about the company’s origins and current plans and explains the role that it intends to play in the establishment of Cyprus as a home to the very best international video games developers.


What inspired the foundation of Apella Games?

When we started Apella Games in 2020, we were inspired by the same force that drives us today: our shared passion for creating games that entertain millions of players around the world. Through a mixture of adventurism and an amazing idea for a game, we set up a core team of international video game industry and entrepreneurial business professionals. Today we are humbled and honoured by how many talented industry experts and veterans have joined us from renowned companies like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Respawn Entertainment, Amazon and Wargaming. Having such incredible talent in our team, with extensive experience in both developing and operating AAA titles such as Apex Legends, Call of Duty WW2, World of Warcraft, World of Tanks and Warships, Minion Paradise, Rocket Arena, Total War Arena, Champions Online and Star Trek Online validates and refuels our confidence daily that our first AAA free-to-play game will succeed in the market.


How many people does Apella Games employ?

At present we have just over 50 software engineers, story writers, artists, producers, designers and others. From the first day, we prioritised personality, skill and talent and we are proud to have attracted a truly diverse and international team. Though headquartered in Cyprus, we are hiring from almost anywhere in the world and our team is spread across the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Spain and the United States as well as here. In an effort to ensure the safety of our employees, we have recently relocated most of our Eastern European talent from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine to Cyprus, thus increasing our footprint on the island. However, we are still growing and actively looking for talented individuals to join our team – all our vacancies can be found on our website.


What made you choose Cyprus as the location of your company headquarters?

Cyprus is an attractive destination for companies that wish to relocate or set up headquarters, as it offers a great quality of life, a high level of professional services, and access to the EU market. The country has a favourable tax regime and provides a number of targeted incentives to attract tech enterprises and professionals. To name just one, Cyprus’ Intellectual Property regime combines an efficient tax rate with the legal protection afforded by EU Member States and by the signatories of all major IP treaties and protocols. Under the Cyprus IP regime, 80% of qualifying profits generated from assets – patents, copyrighted software programmes and other intangible assets – are deemed tax-deductible expenses for qualifying taxpayers. With a corporate tax rate of 12.5%, this can result in an effective tax rate of as low as 2.5%. As such, many companies from Canada, the USA, Russia, Ukraine and Israel have been moving their business to Cyprus over the past few years. It is encouraging to see that both the public and private sector have adopted a forward-looking approach and are continuously seeking ways to build an even more appealing and business-friendly environment through legislation, policy and incentives to attract foreign investment, and facilitate the relocation of companies and individuals in an effort to expand the local economy.


How do you rate the technology and game development sector in Cyprus? What steps can be taken to develop it further?

Cyprus has already made great strides to create the conditions for the development of a thriving and sustainable tech sector. Globally, the video game industry is larger today than the film and music industries combined. To give you a better picture, it is estimated that there are more than 2.5 billion gamers worldwide, while the global gaming market is set to reach US$257 billion by 2025. With new technologies such as VR gaming, the further proliferation of e-sports, new ways to monetise games and subscription-based streaming services, the industry is expected to grow even more. Cyprus can be at the forefront of this development and reap significant benefits for its economy by building on the progress that it has already made. By taking additional steps regarding migration and adopting financial incentives to facilitate new investments, the Government can support the further growth of the Cypriot technology industry. Moreover, investing time and money in developing talent is of paramount importance. Secondary and tertiary education institutions can partner with the private sector to offer courses on skills such as software, UI/UX and animation. This can prepare whole generations of young Cypriots for the modern jobs market and make them employable in a variety of roles in the technology sector, both locally and abroad, including programming, design, communications and marketing.


What is the company’s vision for the future?

Our goal is to become a top-tier free-to-play gaming studio and operator. As part of this effort, we are proud to be bringing our first hero-based sports arena game to PC and consoles soon. Our focus is on PC and console games but we are closely monitoring the market and changes in technology and distribution. In the short term, Apella Games wants to establish itself as one of the leading video game developers in Cyprus. By achieving this goal, we will at the same time be supporting Cyprus’ efforts to enhance its role as a tech centre, while creating value for the local economy and society. In the immediate future – without revealing too many details – you can expect some exciting major announcements about Apella Games’ plans to dynamically enter the North American & Asian markets.

Aleksandra Rudis, Apella Games CEO