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 increase rapidly but Russia is one of the top emerging game markets in the world. As you will learn in the section 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 expected to take off in future years. 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, such as the fact that “Romania’s year-to-year 2008 GDP growth rate was the highest in the entire European Union, in excess of 8%.” The Eastern European consumer base is significant as well, necessitating game developers and publishers to consider the localization of their games for the market:
Newzoo’s charts reveal that as of 2012, Poland had a gaming population of 11.8 million with 53% monetizing, which equated to roughly a $350-$450 million industry. In addition, Israel-based developer Plarium 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 are just now looking to expand to other markets. However, 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. Electronic Arts expects Russia’s video game market to nearly double in a three year time period to over $1.5 billion. In fact, Russia's game industry reached $1.3 billion in 2012, a 30% increase from 2011, the majority of which was spent on online games, according to Mail.ru. In 2012, head of EA Russia, Tony Watkins says that “online games have surged to $600 million” versus a humble $50 million in 2007. This number is likely to increase drastically in the coming years, as Russia’s internet usage growth rates grew 23% between 2011 and 2012. Plus, the social games market saw a 180% increase from 2010 to 2011 of $236 million dollars, according to Mail.Ru Games.
The overall success of the market has led PricewaterhouseCoopers to declare Russia “the biggest [video game market] in Central and Eastern Europe in 2011,” at $1 billion worth in sales. In addition, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates Russia’s growth rate for video game entertainment between 2011 and 2015 to be at 10.8% versus the 8.2% growth rate for the rest of the world. Plus, Russia’s active gamer population rivals that of Germany’s – the European country with the highest number of gamers. Russia had an active gamer population of 38 million in 2011, topping Germany’s 36 million, and making Russia the world’s 2nd largest country in terms of game population (behind the US). In addition, 53% of Russia’s gamers spend money on games, resulting in a $1.5 million industry and Russia's most popular form of visual entertainment (ahead of movies). These statistics are only expected to rise in future years, with PricewaterhouseCoopers predicting Russia's game sales to hit $1.7 billion in 2015, becoming the 4th largest market in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, rising to $35.7 billion.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: April 2013.