In a first-of-its-kind deal, a Russian game developer has been acquired by a Western investor. Ener1 Group, a Florida-based high-tech holding company, paid a reported $10 million to Nival Interactive's founder Sergey Orlovskiy to acquire the studio. Nival's games include Rage of Mages, Etherlords, Blitzkrieg, and the Silent Storm franchise. Ubisoft recently named Nival as the developer of its upcoming Heroes of Might and Magic V for the PC.
According to the Moscow-based journal Kommersant, Nival Interactive produces about 30 percent of all computer games in Russia and employs 140 designers. The company was founded in 1996 by Orlovskiy.
Ener1 Group says it will "integrate Nival's artists, designers, and programmers with its US-based video gaming interests" and focus its resources in the direction of next-gen game development, specifically Xbox 2 and PS3, as well as mobile games. Ener1 has no previous experience in the game industry.
Mosnews.com, a Moscow-based online daily covering the deal, said the game industry in Russia has seen total revenues increase tenfold since 2000, and that revenues from game sales are growing annually at a rate of 50 to 70 percent. Mosnews.com is also reporting that local analysts are calling the acquisition "strategically timed" due the growing number of home computers in Russia and a reduction in the amount of pirated goods diluting sales of legitimate game software.
Orlovskiy has been named president of the new company, called Nival Inc., which will be based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.