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Interview: We chat with the new head of Nival's US operations

Long time PC gamers may be familiar with the publisher Nival Interactive. The Russia-based game developer and publisher is best know for its turn-based and real-time strategy titles. In the early 2000s it released a number of acclaimed games in this genre including the Etherlords series, the Blitzkreg series and the Silent Storm series. In 2006 Nival released Heroes of Might and Magic V for publisher Ubisoft to great acclaim and followed it up with two expansion packs.

In 2005 an American company called Ener1 Group announced that it had acquired Nival Interactive with hopes to expand its operations. However, for still murky reasons, things didn't work out and the previous owner of the company, Sergey Orlovskiy, took control again in 2007.

Now Nival is expanding its reach into the US market once again. Later next week Nival plans to officially announce that it will open up a new US-based office. In an exclusive interview with Big Download, we got Nival's North America's general manager David D Christensen to give us a little more info about the company's plans.
First Nival has been fairly quiet for a while, at least as far as its US operations. What has Nival been working on in the meantime?

Nival turned its focus to the online space a few years ago. We currently operate more than ten online games and a successful Russian-language social network focused on gaming. With the rise of social gaming services and decline of boxed product games, Nival decided it was an opportune time to enter the North American market. As a company, Nival is now focused on creating social strategy games and we believe this mixture of social gaming features with more tactical gameplay will be a major growth market in gaming.

Why did Nival want to come back to launch a new US operation?

We believe the rapid growth of social gaming through Facebook and other social networks makes it the perfect market for our social strategy games. We'll be focusing our efforts on publishing these new titles and localizing them for the North American market.

Will we see Nival re-release some of its classic PC strategy games?

We plan to tap into existing IPs to make new social strategy games. We aren't ready to discuss this yet – as we're still in the planning stages – but we think hardcore strategy gamers will want to take a look at our new games too.

What new game projects will Nival be launching for its new US operations?

We'll be focused on social strategy games but aren't discussing specific titles at this time. However, E3 is just around the corner and we will be an exhibitor there. We're really excited about it and believe it should be a great experience. We can't wait to show our peers what we think is the future of online gaming.

Why do you think the free-to-play business model will work for Nival?

Nival has had success with this model in other territories and we see it as a fast growing segment in North America. Plus, our games will feature cross-platform elements, meaning players can play on PC, Mac as well as iOS and Android platforms. We believe our games will offer enough great content for free, but that people will want to enhance their experience through microtransactions.

Does Nival have plans to launch a development studio in the US at the moment?

The current plan is to remain completely focused on the North American operations of the games our existing studios in Moscow and Saint Petersburg are developing.

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Nival's relaunch in the US?

We don't see it as a relaunch. The former office was focused on development. As I've mentioned, this new office is focused solely on operating Nival's social strategy games in North America and we are really excited about building a great community around these titles later this year.

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