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Russia "not the right market" for Nintendo

Domestic publisher casts doubt on whether country's society is ready for social games

While progress is being made in piracy, broadband penetration and the high definition console market, it's unlikely that Russia is "the right market" for Nintendo's current generation of hardware.

Despite ruling virtually every other territory that they have launched in, the Wii and DS have struggled to make an impact on the growing Russian market, according to GFI's head of international licensing and acquisition, Inna Bukatina.

"Firstly people in Russia prefer products that are more universal, that can be used for a number of different purposes," she told GamesIndustry.biz. "For example, a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Portable can be used for games, or films, and so on.

"But the Wii is only for games, and for very specific kinds of games. The gaming society in Russia is pretty young, and I remember when Nintendo attempted to attract more people from older demographics - they put on their last slide a babushka, an old woman, in a headscarf sitting in the countryside and playing on a DS... but actually it's very hard to see that really happening in Russia.

"I know that in other parts of Europe, older age ranges are playing these games, but in Russia they don't know what to do with it - they never owned a computer, and probably never worked with a device that's more technical than a telephone, for example."

Bukatina did concede that for the older generations the DS might be given as a gift, but also revealed that the platform faced another problem.

"The DS has a following, but there's a lot of piracy there too, and it's of course much more expensive than the GameBoy," she said.

The full interview with Inna Bukatina, in which she also talks about the progress of the Russian market as a whole, is available now.

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Phil Elliott