Europe makes up the most significant portion of the global video game market, comprising 31.3% of a $68 billion market and accounting for $21.3 billion, according to Newzoo’s 2012 Games Market Revenue Report. Eastern Europe is expected to further integrate with Western Europe in the future, which, analysts predict, will have a significant impact on Eastern Europe’s economy. Not only is Eastern Europe’s video game sector anticipated to grow rapidly but Russia is one of the top emerging game markets in the world. As you will learn below, multiple market analysis organizations and key global game developers cite Russia as a market with incredible opportunity, predicted to double in size between 2012 and 2015 with notable increases on certain platforms and overall market sales performance. It is of particular importance to note that efforts to target solely the Eastern European and Russian video game markets have exceeded expectations.
While few foreign companies are currently targeting the Eastern European game audience, it is a significant market that is taking off. Even IBM noted the incredible number of profitable Eastern European video game studios (a couple hundred and counting), citing it as a primary reason for investor interest in the region. IBM also cited Eastern Europe’s pending integration with Western Europe as reason for the “explosive growth” in the region. The Eastern European consumer base is significant as well, necessitating game developers and publishers to consider the localization of their games for the market:
The Eastern European video game market is reported to be worth $2.3 billion with an expected revenue increase of 13.3% in 2014. While Russia is the big giant for gaming revenue at $1.14 billion in 2014 (#12 for countries worldwide), Poland isn't far behind at $279.6 million (ranking #23). Followed by Poland, Romania tallies in at $122.3 million, Ukraine at $118.6 million, and the Czech Republic at $117.8 million. Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo, sees great benefits in localizing into Russian in particular:
"I find the Russian games market to be as intriguing as that of China. There are actually several striking similarities between the two, making Russia an even more attractive market as gateway to the East. Hard market data and a deeper cultural understanding of the market reveals that Russia deserves to be valued as a primary games market, in many cases boasting more potential than the default route of localizing into German, French, or Spanish."
In fact, Russia is said to have even greater market potential for MMOs than Germany, yet Russians are increasingly "dissatisfied with the slowness of how games are localized to their market."
Israel-based developer Plarium has exclusively targeted the Eastern European and Russian market since launch in 2009, achieving an audience of 70 million players, their strategy leading them to double their revenue every year. They just recently started looking to expand to other markets. Their profitability in the region indicates a consumer base hungry for games with local language and local content.
For some time now, Russia has been considered a rising star in the video game industry, as one of the primary emerging markets. Looking at the statistics and figures, it’s no wonder Russia has made such large waves among the game community. Russia's video game industry is expected to be worth $1.4 billion by 2015, ranking at #12 for countries worldwide, and currently comprising 16.6 million Russians - nearly a quarter of Russia's "economically active population." Like Japanese gamers, many Russian gamers play on the commute, as those in big cities typically spend over an hour commuting each day.
While mobile gaming is anticipated to grow significantly, online games are another significant market segment, as online games in Russia increased by at least 25% in 2013, the 2nd largest in Europe. Head of the games division at popular Mail.ru, Alexander Kuzmenko, states that nearly every segment of video gaming saw significant growth during this time, "including online games and the so-called boxed games for PCs and game consoles." Russia stands at #1 in the world for PC gaming, with 98% of gamers playing on PC (Newzoo).
As is the case in many other countries around the world, it is necessary to translate and localize games for the market. This means not only creating the game in say, Russian, but also making the cultural references relevant for the local market. (Read our Gamasutra-featured article to learn more – “When to Forgo the Culturalization of Video Games: Contextualizing Globalization within the Mobile Marketplace.”) According to Edgar Strods of Russian social networking site Odnoklassniki.ru, “If you’re going to go into [the] Russian market, you have to localize the games. All these games should be in Russian. All these games should have local content.” This is true for Eastern Europe as well, as each country in the region has distinct languages and cultures. By not localizing for each distinct market, you run the risk of ostracizing players and losing market share. Learn how to avoid key localization mistakes in “The Top 5 Myths & Facts about Video Game Translation & Localization: What Every Game Developer Needs to Know.”
At LAI, we can develop tailored solutions to match your budgetary needs while localizing your games to as many markets as possible in order to achieve your global goals. We recommend the translation and localization of your games into Croatian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and Serbian. Be sure to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or request a quote to learn how we can aid you in your journey to attaining market share in Eastern Europe and Russia.
LAI strives to keep game developers and publishers updated on key markets for localization. If you find any errors or have additional information to add, please let us know at email@example.com. You can also stay informed of our new webpages by subscribing to LAI's monthly e-newsletter. Please check back soon on LAI's Global Game Markets page as we frequently update our web content to reflect new industry statistics and market projections. Latest page update: July 2014.