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Effective Distribution of Video Games in Russia: Popular Digital Distribution Systems

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In Russia, just like all over the world, Steam takes the first place among game platforms and game digital distribution services. This was also proved by results of polls that we conducted in December 2020 jointly with PlayGround.ru and GoHa.Ru, the largest Russian game media.

How much is Steam effective?

For large publishers, Steam used to be, first of all, an effective distribution channel and advertising platform. Today, there is a highly competitive environment, and games released on Steam now have to aggressively compete with other products on the platform.

This seems to be a normal situation, but the devil is in the detail. Companies put huge efforts and money into marketing, but, in fact, these efforts are directed not only to projects, but, in no small way, to Steam in form of traffic that ends up there, too.

When we talk about large publishers of AA or AAA games, for them Steam is one more channel to distribute their game. Publishers of AAA projects not only sell games to the platform’s audience, but also bring new users to the platform thanks to both their brand and marketing activities during the launch and updates. At that, large developers and publishers, as a rule, have their own platforms and shops in order to not only sell games, but also interact with end users.


Learn more about preferences of Russian gamers from the new issues of Game Marketing in Russia Digest.


What can smaller developers do in this situation?

One can create their own distribution channel. However, one should consider all expenses not only for its creation, but also its support and promotion. In an age where the market is dominated by larger distribution channels, one will have to spend a significant share of the budget on marketing, and there is still no guarantee that you will be at least in Top 20 of search results. For sure, if you have a strong brand and users constantly follows releases of your games, it is worth trying to create your own shop, just like, for instance, Epic Games and Bethesda did.

When you do not have a spare quarter of a million dollars to create your own distribution channel and your brand is not that popular, there is another solution. There are more than a dozen of such shops in Russia, and all of them have their audience. They definitely do not have such a massive audience as Steam, what can also be seen from the results of the poll, but the games, as a rule, are designed for a narrower audience, for which other digital distribution services such as Origin or GOG.com can be chosen.

What game platform do Russian-speaking gamers play at?

More than 70% Russian-speaking gamers choose Steam as their game platform. However, many users noted in comments that they use not one, but several digital platforms, which proves our recommendation—publishing your game on several platforms, you increase chances that gamers will notice and buy it.

*The poll was conducted from December 15 to 21, 2020 on the official pages of PlayGround.ru and GoHa.ru in VKontakte. 2,109 gamers took part in the poll.

The game publishing process is identical almost everywhere. In the beginning, you fill in a questionnaire where you tell about yourself, about the project, provide all possible links to publications about it and to the release version so that online shop members could also try to play your game.

We recommend sending the game to several game digital distribution services (at least 5-7)—this is how you will more surely get to windows of at least two shops. After all, they can refuse not only because the game may seem worthless to platform members, but also because it can just not fit into demands of the service’s key audience.

After your game will be approved and published on several services, do not forget about its promotion. For example, you can participate in Greenlight on Steam or place a banner on the main page of GOG.com. Every service offers more than one way to attract gamers’ attention to the game, so we recommend paying close attention to them all, check them against your budget, and certainly include them into your expenses.

Summary

  • In order to be successful today, a developer should publish its game not only on Steam, but also on 2-3 more platforms.
  • The largest developers need their own shops, for others it will not be worth efforts invested.
  • You must think over a strategy of further marketing activities to promote your game on digital distribution services—or address RMAA Games to create an effective marketing plan to conquer Russian gamers.

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About the Author

Head of Digital, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva
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