Russian gaming industry is one not many talk about – but this is about to change. Find out why.

The Russian gaming industry is not the one everybody is talking about right now. Its growth rate is much faster than anybody could have expected just a few years ago, though, and Russian gamers have surprised the whole world with their newly found will to go legit and stop pirating software. Why is that and how much can be earned in Russia? Let’s find out!

Is the Russian market as big as the country?

Being the biggest country on the planet, Russia has a relatively small market – but only if you compare it to the area the country covers. If you take into consideration its population, you quickly get to the conclusion that the Russians play a lot of games.

Russian gamers are one of the largest groups on Steam and they constitute almost 13% of total users.

steam users by language
Steam users by language

The sales of PC games in Russia accounts for 704 million USD (2017) and this sum includes only mainstream titles (in retail and digital distribution, excluding DLCs, subscription-based MMO games, freemium games, gift cards and games available in social media).

box vs digital games
Digital vs box box distribution of games

Digital distribution constitutes 91% of this market, which means Russian companies make over 604 million dollars selling keys for digital games.

Prefered gaming platforms

PC rules in Russia, consoles are a niche. The sales of console games generate only 180 million USD yearly, which is just a fraction of what the PCs do.

Out of distribution platforms for digital PC games, Steam is obviously the most popular, but its superiority over its competition is huge.

It doesn’t mean that Russian gamers buy all their games there, though.

 „Steam is the market leader in digital distribution in Russia, with its turnover exceeding all Russian competitors combined.”


Perspectives for the future

The future of gaming is bright in Russia. Esports have already gained so much popularity they’ve become mainstream and millions of fans watch League of Legends and Counter Strike tournaments and best teams are now celebrities.

Esports companies in Russia can be worth large sums. The largest one, ESforce, has just been purchased by Mail.Ru for 100 million USD.

Esport is forecast by some to overtake the traditional sports market over the next decade”

Mail.Ru CEO Boris Dobrodeev

Conventional gaming keeps growing too and its growth is very rapid for a number of reasons, one of which is the decline of piracy. Russian gamers have finally started to actually buy games, after decades of complete chaos on the market. It means that not only the number of gamers in Russia keeps increasing, but also more and more of them obtain their games in legal ways.

Finally the copyrights are being protected in a proper way in Russia, so authorities block websites with illegal content quite efficiently. No longer it is possible to download any game directly from servers.

How is Russian gaming industry different

In order to understand why the situation in Russia is so complicated and the market developing so well, we should take into consideration following factors:

1. Regional pricing works wonders for the gaming industry

Those services that adjust their prices according to the regional specifics succeed and Steam (along with other large sellers) is among them. Eg. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice costs $59 in the USA, while the regional price for Russian gamers is an equivalent of $30.

2. Localization boosts Russian gaming industry

While 30% of the Russians do speak English, they still prefer playing games in their native tongue. Not to mention the rest of them. Publishers understand it and work hard to translate their products better and better. Translation companies agree that they have more and more work to do each year, as the demand increases rapidly.

3. Piracy rate in Russia is dropping

While it is still pretty common to use pirated software, illegal sources are becoming less available and are now actively being eliminated by official institutions. The Russians are becoming more and more aware of the copyright laws and ethics. Even pirate activists agree that the traffic on pirate websites drops steadily in Russia. They just prefer buying more and more.

4. Keyshops in Russian gaming industry

While games are pretty cheap on Steam, Russian gamers prefer buying in local keyshops to save even more. The same Sekiro that costs $30 in Steam, can cost $24 in an average Russian keyshop and it’s a significant difference for an average, smart shopper!

About the author

Digital dropshipping propagator, e-commerce expert, linguist and cyclist. A literary blogger in free time.