$820 million Russian games market to enjoy governmental support, including tax breaks to tempt international game companies.
The rapidly growing Russia and CIS games market reached a record value of $820 million last year, according to the Russian Association of Developers of Interactive Technology (RADIT). As reported by gameindustry.biz, the government is supporting the industry’s growth and RADIT is working with politicians to ensure the game industry plays a part in a planned Russian Silicon Valley, which will be situated south-west of Moscow.
RADIT hopes to create a special game industry sector in Skolkovo, as well as court international publishers and developers by offering tax relief and other incentives.
"Our president is very interested in investing in this field," says RADIT president and CEO of developer Biart Studio Konstantin Popov. "We plan to make a real investment boom now."
Speaking during a lecture entitled ‘Current State of the Russian Games Industry‘ at GDC Europe in Cologne, Popov said that the country’s developers were moving away from their traditional focus of PC games, to console games. The PC market has declined by 40 percent, while the console, casual and mobile markets have risen by 15, 30 and ten per cent respectively.
Even so, PC games still constitute 80 per cent of the market, and retail sales account for $500 million of the total $820 million valuation.
"Russian branches of Microsoft and Sony didn’t provide any significant support for Russian game developers," said co-speaker Dmitry Lyust, executive producer at Biart Studio, explaining why the country had taken so long to adopt console and online gaming. "Even now there are significant issues in obtaining licenses for Russian companies. Russian game publishers provided funding to PC projects only because there was no console market in Russian in those days."
Both men agreed that this situation is now changing, but that casual, social and massively multi-player games would be a bigger market than either console or PC in the future. Despite the burgeoning market, however, few western developers are present on Russia’s leading social network site Vkontakte, which has 75 million users and more than 3300 apps. In comparison, Facebook has attracted only one million users in the same region.