The Online Gaming Industry, Russia’s Secret Weapon?

The gaming industry is a lucrative, growing business with new opportunities continually developing around the globe — and Russia is no exception. Their gaming community is one of the most unique in the world and has grown exponentially over the last few years. In fact, Russians are known to be the most game-crazy of all  with an even distribution of both male and female users and very particular online payment behaviors for gamers. Currently #1 in the world for PC gaming and fast developing for both mobile and online gaming, Russia is set for even more growth.

The Current Market

In 2013 there were an estimated 46.4 million Russian gamers of which 27.4 million were playing online. According to a survey carried out by Mail.ru, 87 percent of online gamers play more than once a month and 44 percent of users are business professionals with a university degree or are enrolled in higher education.

Not only is their gaming community playing more often, but they’re willing to pay for it as well. Russia’s emerging gaming market is bigger in size than both the UK and German markets and over half of Russian users spend money on gaming, averaging US$ 34 a month for online services.

These gaming habits have caused the industry to develop further. The Russian gaming industry has increased by a whopping 240 percent in the last few years and by the end of 2013 it was thought to be worth US$ 1.1 billion. Alexander Kuzmenko, head of the Games project at Mail.ru, noted that there was a significant growth in online gaming and figures indicate the rise from US$ 460 million just two years ago has made Russia the second largest market in Europe. Of the US$ 1.1 billion turnover from the Russian gaming industry, a huge US$ 900 million came from online gaming alone.

Keep on Growing

There are a number of factors that are helping Russia to grow as a market for online gaming. The first is down to the rise in popularity and sales of smartphones and tablets, as smartphone users in the country have grown from 5 percent in 2009 to 37 percent in 2013. Furthermore, a significant number of Russian smartphone and tablet users live in the big cities that spend over an hour a day commuting, during which they devote a large amount of time to online gaming; helping to increase the popularity.

The gaming industry is also helped by the steady growth of the Russian economy, caused by strong domestic consumption and continuing investments in new technology in Russia. Speedy internet connections and accessibility of free Wi-Fi in numerous public locations are also factors that have encouraged the industry to invest in online gaming.

Piracy in Russia relating to PC and console games is a problem, with an estimated 70 percent of games being pirated. Online gaming is thought by many companies as an opportunity to overcome this issue, as copy protection systems and restrictions tend to be more effective when it comes to playing online.

The Future is Bright for Russian Developers

Due to the population size, the Russian gaming market is a prime target for market expansion. With the online gaming market projected to continue its steady growth, it is a promising target for new entrants. Although the international market is dominated by foreign bestsellers, smaller Russian developers have gained international success. One example is the Russian online game Warthunder, which is very popular outside of the country.

Local publishers dominate the Russian market making it difficult for new international entrants. With projected growth for the Russian gaming industry expected to reach US$ 1.4 billion in 2015, and up to US$ 1.9 billion in 2016, opportunities for home-grown companies to increase their profits are huge.

The Russian gaming industry has rapidly grown in recent years due to its unique nature and the reduction in barriers for gaming by tackling piracy issues and improving internet speed and Wi-Fi access. With opportunities for this growth to continue, particularly for online and mobile gaming, Russia looks set to become one of the major players in the international gaming industry.