Pirates of the Digital Sea: Russian gamers deploy the Jolly Roger
Due to the crisis, the popularity of unlicensed games risks rising to 85%.
A study conducted by the online game development school XYZ School, showed that video game piracy in Russia has increased markedly in 2022. The survey itself was conducted in June 2023. 1500 gamers from all regions of Russia participated, all unlicensed game formats were taken into account. XYZ School Operations Director Emma Yusova clarified that most of the respondents downloaded games from torrent trackers.
Of the 70% of Russians who play computer games, 69% admitted to using pirated versions. The figure is several times higher than in the previous year. At the same time, 27% of respondents used up to three unlicensed copies for PC per year, and 20% used more than 10 copies. According to the survey, 31% of respondents were categorically against piracy.
The main reason for the growth of piracy was the withdrawal from Russia of the world’s largest studios, such as Electronic Arts, Microsoft, RockStar Games and Activision, and the introduction of restrictions on the use of Russian bank cards in foreign stores. As Alexander Kuzmenko, an independent industry expert, emphasized, the restrictions, along with the difficult economic situation in the country, led to the fact that users began to save on entertainment. Now buying licensed versions takes about the same time as downloading free ones, so people prefer a more budgetary way.
There are also positive moments. For example, VK Play, a domestic gaming platform, significantly increased its user base from 12 million in December 2021 to 16.5 million in the first quarter of 2023. Perhaps the level of piracy will decrease over time due to the development of Russian services.
According to experts, now lost profits can reach significant numbers. So, Konstantin Sakhnov, co-founder of the Vengeance Games studio, estimates possible losses at 30 billion rubles. In turn, Vasily Ovchinnikov, head of the Organization for the Development of the Video Game Industry, believes that the damage could amount to about 15 billion rubles.
Regarding the future of the industry in Russia, the opinions of specialists are disappointing. It is assumed that the proportion of pirates among the playing population can reach 80-85%. A similar forecast was given by Gadzhi Makhtiev, the owner of the Kanobu and Igromania portals. His opinion is shared by Kuzmenko, who does not exclude the possibility that the gaming market may return to the state of 20 years ago, when 95% of all games were unlicensed.