Video games power on as demand fires up despite downturn

Video games sales in Russia have defied the economic downturn over the last year to post increases, despite difficult download speeds and transportation issues for discs.

The real world may have been in crisis, but there's still plenty of entertainment to be had in the virtual one.

The recession has proved to be a boon for the computer games industry as people look for cheaper ways to have fun. Sales of video games in Russia have doubled during the last year, according to Stefan Lampinen, Senior Regional director at Microsoft.

"The video games market has been doubling in sales from 2008 to 2009. If you look at the market data, the next generation of video games has expanded in size in markets here, and we have not lost in console sales against what we thought."

Despite the increased prominence of consoles, Russia, like Poland and Germany, remains a predominantly PC-loving nation. Ilya Zaslavsky, PR Manager at Buka adds that demand for downloadable content rather than discs has been the growth area of the market.

"Despite the crisis which started last year, the online games sector was still growing. It was the best situation on the game market at all."

Distributing games on disks in Russia is often delayed by the long distances involved. Instead developers have been turning to online sales, although Jens Bohnwagner of CTO Digital Solutions says they still have to contend with poor connection speeds.

"When you decide to go for digital distribution you have a problem. Infrastructure is not well suited. The demand for a solution in this area is very high."

For those who like to socialize and travel, manufacturers offer board games as an alternative way to have fun when money is tight. Put on a gown, buy cards and dice – and you're in the game for under $50.