As a digital marketing agency, one of our areas of interest is gaming and esports, and specifically how brands communicate with gaming audience in Russia.
Research below includes data from dozens of sources about the Russian game market, esports, gamers, streamers and video gaming influencers that you should know about if you want to work in this market and establish contact with this promising audience.
From this article you will learn:
- Overview and statistics of the Russian gaming market
- Esports in Russia
- Largest brands on the Russian gaming market
- Overview of Russian gamers
- Game live streaming in Russia
- Top-20 Russian gaming websites
According to various estimates, in 2019, the turnover of the Russian video game market reached from $1.57 billion (Statista) to $2 billion (Newzoo & Yandex). PwC gives an estimate of $1.9 bn, and according to SuperData and Wargaming, the market volume was as much as $2.7 bn.
According to Yandex data, the gaming market in Russia has more than doubled in the last 5 years. In general, in 2014-2018, the turnover in the Russian Federation increased annually by an average of 20-25%. Analysts note that in terms of dynamics, it is close to the pace of global growth of the industry.
The most profitable gaming category is free-to-play. It accounts for 47% of turnover (for comparison, on average in Europe, this share is much less — 20%.), that is $940 million. Its revenue increased by 4% compared to 2018.
There is also data for segments. Mobile is the fastest-growing: in annual terms, it increased by 29% and reached $700 million. Mobile games account for 34% of Russian video game turnover.
Consoles have grown by 19% over the same time. In 2019, this segment has brought $240 million.
According to PwC analysts, the volume of the Russian VR market last year amounted to $26 million. The average annual growth rate is projected to be 31% until 2023.
It also notes that half of the revenue of the VR industry in Russia, as in the world, is related to video games. Another 40% is for video content, and only 10% is for other types of apps.
According to PayPal and SuperData, the Russian eSports market can be estimated at $45 million, while PwC research estimates total revenue at $12.7 million, which is 42% more than a year earlier. PwC expects the average annual growth rate of the eSports segment between 2018 and 2023 to be 19.8%, and total revenue by 2023 to be $31.2 million. MTS (Russian mobile operator) gives more optimistic forecasts — more than $100 million in 2023.
Russia’s share of global eSports revenue for 2018 was already about 5%, making it the largest market in Europe. Analysts believe that this pace will allow Russia to remain in the 9th position among the leading countries in terms of eSports market volume.
According to the Newzoo Agency, the number of people watching eSports broadcasts (at least once a year) in Russia in 2018 was 22 million people, which is the third result in the world by this indicator. The leader is the Chinese market with an audience of 150 million people, the second place is taken by the United States with 50 million people.
According to NewZoo, Russia is also ranked fourth in the world in terms of the number of “eSports enthusiasts” — those who watch broadcasts of professional teams’ tournaments and streams (video broadcasts of individual players’ gameplay) more often than once a month. There are about 6.8 million of them in Russia.
This assessment, however, is at odds with research by Nielsen Sports, according to which the audience of eSports in Russia is 10 million people, and the opinion of the Director of Winstrike Team Yaroslav Komkov, who estimates an audience of 12 million people, of which “enthusiasts” are about 4-5 million people.
The popularity of eSports in Russia is supported by favorable conditions for the development of streaming platforms. About 15% of all broadcasts on the Twitch streaming platform are conducted in Russian language. Recently, the most famous example is the launch of similar services from Russian mobile operators Tele2 and MTS.
Among the main market trends, PwC highlights the emergence of brands that are not directly related to IT. Among them, for example, are the antiviral drug “Kagocel”, shampoo Head & Shoulders, razor Gillette, “Mail Bank” and others.
The largest Russian eSports tournament remains Epicenter Dota 2 — one of the nine world majors. The prize fund of the tournament in 2019 was $1 million. In addition, Russia hosts many tournaments with more modest prize funds. Among the key disciplines — Dota 2, CS: GO, Warface, PUBG, and many others.
According to Yandex and Newzoo, the largest companies by revenue, number of transactions and audience size in Russia are Valve (thanks to Steam), Wargaming, Mail.Ru, Sony, Riot Games, Origin and 4game digital stores. The Russian audience is also gradually gaining the Chinese giant Tencent.
The most profitable titles are World of Tanks, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII, League of Legends, Dota 2, FIFA 19 and Honor of Kings.
In 2018 the situation was similar:
Data from Similarweb, which shows traffic to individual resources, shows that as of March 2020, the largest share of Russian users of the Steam service is about 26 million people per month, which is in third place after the United States and China:
According to Yandex, the average age of a Russian player is 36 years. 60% of men and 39% of women prefer to play games on PC. Console versions are played by 21% of men and 13% of women. Note that gamers can own both a PC and a console.
48% of the surveyed players prefer to play on smartphones. Another 41% choose a desktop. Important: the survey allowed users to select up to three devices.
The two most playing age groups (18-24 and 25-34) most often use PCs, smartphones, and consoles to play games. Tablets are chosen much less often.
46% of gaming respondents indulge in their hobby several times a week. 30% — several times a month. 23% play every day (source).
The average time spent by Russians in video games per week is 5 hours, if you do not divide the respodents by age. In groups of 18-24 years and 25-34 years, the average playing time reaches even 8 hours a week.
It is interesting that Russians aged 45-59 and over 60 play the most every day. But on average, they spend no more than 4 hours a week and 417 rubles a month on games.
Most of the players live in cities with over 1 million of residents (25%). The average weekly gaming time reaches 8 hours in all 1M+ cities, except Moscow and St. Petersburg. The two capitals play an average of 4 hours a week. Residents of villages and towns, for the most part, have never played games (59% of them).
Every month, a Russian gamer makes an average of three game purchases and donates three times to streamers. All this costs him/her $15 – $85 (1-5 thousand rubles). At the same time, the average transaction size decreased by 2.7%. Now it is $7 (451 rubles).
The majority (81%) of paying gamers spent money on in-game items or virtual goods in the past six months, with 36% of men and 42% of women buying power-ups.
Yandex attributes a slight decrease in transaction volume to an increase in the number of annual purchases per player (it increased by 14% over the year). Transactions were also affected by the fact that the Russian audience is increasingly interested in free-to-play and free trial versions of games.
Two-thirds of gamers (64%) in Russia watch videos related to games. The most popular content is about Dota 2 and CS:GO. Eight of the top-10 channels are dedicated primarily to these games. However, they are not the most earning titles. World of Tanks and all kinds of royal battles are the biggest ones.
As for mobile games, in February 2020, the analytical platform myTracker (owned by Mail.ru Group) has studied the behavior and habits of paying mobile gamers in Russia.
Despite the fact that Millennials are the core audience and are more willing to pay in games, older users generally pay more. The percentage of people who start using paid options after installing the game is higher among the audience aged 25-34 years.
Users in the most active age group (25-44 years old) provide almost three-quarters (73%) of revenue from in-app purchases in mobile games.
The maximum average revenue per user (ARPU), both paying and non-paying, is generated by people between 35 and 44 years of age. At the same time, the highest average income per paying user (ARPPU) is provided by gamers aged 45 to 64 years.
Men play more often and are better converted to paying users in Russia, but paying women are not inferior to them in terms of in-game spending. Gaming apps are 2.6 times more likely to be installed by men — they generate 5.5 times more revenue for game developers than women. The average revenue per user (ARPU) provided by the male audience is twice as high as the ARPU of the female audience. However, the average income per paying user (ARPPU) for women and men is almost the same.
Russian women pay more willingly than men in only three game genres: “Time management” (farm simulators, Diner Dash, and so on), Match 3, and MMORPG.
Gamers 25-44 years old most often pay in platformers (a genre of games in which the main feature of the process is jumping on platforms, climbing stairs, collecting items, etc.), MOBA, and Build & Battle games. Teenagers prefer to pay in MMORPGs and Time management games, while students prefer to pay in shooters and platformers. In the segment from 65 years old, they most likely to pay in crosswords, Sudoku, quizzes and Match 3 games.
Men are more active in paying at lunch time, and women — in the evening. Most often, Russian users pay after 6 PM, the peak is at 9 PM. Women pay the most in the evening. Another peak in payments is at lunchtime, around noon.
The most profitable days for gaming apps are Friday and Saturday: they receive an average of 7% more payments than other days. Less often, gamers pay on Monday.
The higher the income — the more in-game spending. IPhone owners — especially the latest models — pay significantly more in games on average than owners of Android devices.
Russian language is the second most popular in eSports content on Twitch. About 15% of all eSports broadcasts on this platform are conducted in Russian. English leads the way with 63.3% of all eSports-related content (SuperData).
According to the analytical service Mr. Streamer, in January 2020, Russian-speaking Twitch users conducted 1.06 million broadcasts, and 24 million people watched them. A total of 124,440 streamers aired in January, with the number of non-game broadcasts accounting for 7.1% of the total, these broadcasts were watched by 3.5 million people (14.6%).
In January 2020 the most popular games by number of live streams in Russia were:
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive — 98.000
DOTA 2 — 96.000
Fortnite — 73.000
PUBG — 46.000
League of Legends — 33.000
World of Warcraft — 29.000
Apex Legends — 27.000
World of Tanks —23.000
Escape from Tarkov — 23.000
GTA 5 — 18.000
The situation is changing for the general audience of these live streams. The DreamLeague Season 13 Dota 2 tournament, which was broadcasted on several Russian-language channels, had an impact.
In January 2020 the most popular games by peak online audience in Russia were:
DOTA 2 — 5.958M
CS:GO — 1.718M
Hearthstone — 978K
Fortnite — 894K
Escape from Tarkov — 838K
PUBG — 753K
GTA 5 — 587K
League of Legends — 458K
World of Warcraft — 427K
Slots — 415K
If we compare Russian streamers, users mostly followed the live streams of SilverName, ybicanoooobov and Stray228 — 1.1 million views in total.
It is clear that streamers don’t compete for the audience with everyone on Twitch, but with the streamers of the same game, so it was interesting to see the ratings for popular games on Twitch. To do this, Mr. Stremer have identified the top players in Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone and Fortnite.
Ybicanooobov — 369K
Stray228 — 317K
Justcooman — 197K
Icebergdoto — 156K
Daxak — 115K
Evelone192 — 123K
Qrushcsgo — 86K
CSGOmc_ru — 77K
UCCStudio — 63K
Kalashnikov Mediatv — 61K
Silvername — 325K
GN_GG — 110K
Shtan_Udachi — 52K
Sinedd92 — 46K
Nickchipperhs — 26K
Spt083 — 62K
Buster — 51K
Evelone192 — 44K
Anchangel_HS — 28K
Pate1k — 26K
There is a ton of video gaming websites in Russia, but below is the list of the most popular that you should know about (domain, MAU).
PlayGround.ru — 7,1M
Games.Mail.ru — 6M
VGTimes.ru — 3M
KaNoBu.ru — 2,8M
CyberSport.ru — 2,7M
StopGame.ru — 2,6M
DTF.ru — 2,5M
GameBomb.ru — 2,3M
Igromania.ru — 1.75M
Shazoo.ru — 1.2M
GamesIsArt.ru — 1.2M
Cubiq.ru — 1,1M
GameMAG.ru — 1M
GoHa.ru — 955K
RiotPixels.com — 880K
GoodGame.ru — 866K
Coop-Land.ru — 844K
Gamer-Info.ru — 788K
GameGuru.ru — 760K
Stratege.ru — 730K