Interacive entertainers enter Russian market

The world's leading developer of interactive entertainment, Electronic Arts, has opened its office in Russia.

The giants of the computer games world are increasing their presence on the Russian market to benefit from its fast growth.

Russian producers are busy designing what they hope will be bestsellers on the Russian and world computer games markets.

Already a decade old, they have held their own against international competition so far, but now global giants are turning up in their back yard.

And they can smell the profits to be made from the booming Russian games industry. 

Russians spent $US 250 MLN on computer games last year and it could be boosted up to $US 600 MLN by 2010.

Attracted by a 40% annual growth rate, international giant Electronic Arts is setting up its own office in Moscow. It wants to feel the pulse of its target market to help build its brand.

“You cannot operate on a market remotely. You have to connect and involve yourself in that particular market. You have to understand the challenges faced by the people involved in the industry, retailers and some. We have to start connecting and linking to Russian consumers and we are working on what they want and what drives them bringing that back on top products and changing our products so that it would be suitable for them,” observed Peter Laughton, Vice-President of Electronic Arts.

EA wants to win as much as 20% of the market, up from about 5%. It is currently split between three main Russian publishers, all of them selling both locally produced and foreign games.

Although Russians prefer games designed outside the CIS, they account for 70% of sales. EA may be too confident about gaining a bigger share.

“This company has got a lower share, but they are trying to bring into Russia the new policy, the new pricing, because they usually start their sales with the European tab of pricing, you know. That is like starting with $US 50 and higher and it is quite a hard price for the Russian market now,” explained Irina Semenova, Marketing Executive of one of Russia’s largest game producers and publishers, Akella. She said half of the country’s sales are unlicensed.

Pirate copies are several dollars cheaper than licensed ones sold by Russian companies, and several times less expensive than games from international publishers like Electronic Arts.

Although the situation is gradually improving, it may take years for Electronic Arts to become a force to reckon with on the Russian market.