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A Russian Revolution

Game Industry Summit Russia event director Anatoly Norenko outlines the conference, and runs down the Russian market

In November this year the Game Industry Summit Russia 2008 will take place, and this time around will be a media partner.

As the biggest territory in Europe, plenty of executives - such as Jens Uwe Intat - are hailing it as a a new videogames frontier, and here event director Anatoly Norenko offers his views on the market. First of all, tell us a little bit about the history of the event.
Anatoly Norenko

This year is actually the third time Gameland is producing the B2B event for the games industry. GIS Russia started as a boutique event and this concept turned out to be a huge success. We have always been aiming for top quality, but not quantity. The audience of the event is mostly made up from decision-makers in the worldwide industry: owners, CEOs, business development directors of game publishing and game development companies - in other words the ones who in fact influence the industry.

As organisers of GISR we are more than happy that once a year we can provide a solid platform for coordinating important actions in the Russian game market. We also attract retail chains reps, investors, and advertising agencies to get a more thorough and broader look at the videogame market in Russia. What is the focus of this year's event?
Anatoly Norenko

The program is basically split into three days according to most important business themes. The event starts off with an overview of the Russian market, discussions of the current situation and trends to find out crucial problems and ways to solve them. The second day is dedicated to marketing and promotion of game products and the lectures and panels are based on well-known cases and success stories. And finally the last day of the event touches upon questions of financing projects and investments - most of the studios get the opportunity to present their titles to a group of high-profile investors.

It is important to note that though the event is being held in Russia our staff is happy to help foreign citizens with attending - from arranging visas to organising an entertainment program for the stay in St Petersburg, one of the most beautiful Russian cities. And do not forget that November is a nice month to experience the true Russian winter: bears walking in the streets, people wearing ushanka-hats and so on, you know.

Being serious attending the conference you will get a chance to meet with all the key players in the Russian game market and get an unbiased view of the situation in the industry. I am excited to announce that we have partnered with to present an option for scheduling appointments online with the summit attendees. What are your personal highlights?
Anatoly Norenko

The keynote speech which is delivered by EA's Peter Laughton with regards to the future of the Russian industry should be a blast. I think the audience will be intrigued to learn the point of view on the industry from the major world publisher’s perspective. What's the market in Russia currently like?
Anatoly Norenko

According to our statistics (Gameland has four gaming magazines as part of its activities) the number of gamers in Russia has already passed the 10 million mark.

I would name several main trends happening in the Russian market these days. First of all, the console gamer base is starting to grow with companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo putting lots of effort into the marketing of their consoles and products. The market has been mostly PC for a long period of time - around 90 per cent - but this is now beginning to change.

Major US and European publishers are starting to enter the market. Electronic Arts did so two years ago and its Russian office already manages lots of successful activities here.

Another trend is that companies have started to merge and form strong entities in the market. Four major online games companies - IT Territory, Nival Online, Nikita and Time Zero - formed Astrum Online, while the leading PC games publisher 1C company recently acquired Buka. Media company Gameland also acquired its competitor publishing house MediaSign. We hear a lot about the problems of piracy, what can be done - if anything - about that?
Anatoly Norenko

The situation with piracy has changed drastically in the last couple of years in Moscow, St Petersburg and other Russian 'millionaire-cities'. Regions still suffer a lot from piracy - it's a huge problem of level of life and people's mentality in general. Educating people is probably one of the biggest tasks for the game companies and the government. Russia's considered a strong country for artistic flair - why is that, do you think?
Anatoly Norenko

Russia has always been a birthplace for geniuses, from scientists to artists... One of the reasons is that the winter is really long in Russia (half of the year). It is really cold outside; people are used to drinking lots of vodka which leads them to creating [smiles]

Seriously - artistic flair is connected to the rich spiritual legacy of the Russian people, strong cultural education and the necessity to develop personal talents under the government's pressure. What sort of impact have MMOs like Eve Online and World of Warcraft had in Russia?
Anatoly Norenko

MMOs are really popular with Russian people: from browser-based to client-based. The most effective business model is free-to-play so far.

For a long period of time we have had a huge number of illegal servers, and online games have received large distribution this way. With time more and more people started to play on official servers, and with the launch of Russian official WoW client the audience grew significantly.

Eve Online is a hardcore game in my mind and therefore popular with adults with high income. What's the console installed base like in the country? Does it favour Microsoft or Sony, or Nintendo?
Anatoly Norenko

Sony was the first one on the market to represent its consoles officially. Right now it is being followed by Microsoft. I might say that their shares are close to each other. Interesting to notice that Nintendo Wii is not as popular with Russian people as it is worldwide. Where do you see the key growth points taking place in Russia? Online gaming? Family/social gaming? Something else?
Anatoly Norenko

In my mind console gaming and online gaming are the fields to consider for the next few years. Console and online markets have huge potential. So the future is there, but this is one of the questions to be discussed the event. I look forward to seeing everybody in late November in St Petersburg at Games Industry Summit Russia 2008!

Anatoly Norenko is event director for Game Industry Summit Russia 2008. Interview by Phil Elliott.

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