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Russian gaming goes ballistic worth estimated $1.3bn

Russian gaming goes ballistic worth estimated $1.3bn
The Russian online video game industry is valued at $1.3 billion, and is rapidly rivaling western counterparts. A survey by Mail.ru shows gaming has increased over 240 percent in the last two years, and has reached a market value of $900 million.

Profits in the Russian game market reached $1.3 billion in 2012, with the bulk stemming from online services ($900 million) and a slight decrease of 12 percent in the offline sector.

"The Russian game industry is rapidly developing and increasingly resembles major, long-established western markets,” said Vladimir Nikolsky, who, as of Monday, will move from Mail.ru's vice president of gaming to the chief operating officer.

In 2011 the online gaming sector increased 54 percent and in 2012 it increased 64 percent, according to Mail.ru’s report.

Mail.ru operates Russia’s largest online gaming platform, as well as the country’s largest email service and internet portal. The study was spurred by a ‘significant knowledge gap’ in demographics that exists in one of Russia’s hottest markets.

The study found that loyal Russian online gamers are willing to routinely spend about $34 per month on services. The study found that 87 percent of internet users play a game more than once a month, and the median gamer age is 33. 54 percent of users are women, and 46 percent are men. 44 percent of users are professionals with university degrees or students currently enrolled in higher education.

Mail.ru Group interviewed 2033 respondents aged over 13 years living in Russian cities with a population of over 100,000 people.

AFP Photo/Oliver Berg

The most popular and fastest growing gaming platform is Android, both on smartphones and tablets. In Russia, the mobile gaming market grew by 180 percent in 2012, after surging  306 percent in 2011. Smartphone and tablet markets only increased mobile gaming use.

According to retail data, the smartphone market in Russia grew by 67 percent.

Residents of Moscow take advantage of their morning commute to hook up to video game networks, as some metro lines are equipped with WI-FI.

A lot of video games are developed in Russia, as computer programming is cheaper than Western markets and of the same caliber. 

Tetris, the visual-spatial geometric puzzle of the 1980s comes from Russia, and is used worldwide by computer science students learning program code.

Mail.ru is a major stakeholder in Vkontakte (40 percent) and also holds shares in Facebook (10 percent). The company sees a strong growth relationship between the number of social network users and their desire to pay for online gaming sources.

The media giant is headed by Alisher Usmanov, Russia’s wealthiest man, and also holds various stakes in small venture capital investments in Russian and Ukrainian internet companies.