Online Games Pushing Into Russia And Eastern Europe

Peter Suciu for – Your Universe Online

Russia and Eastern Europe have been the backdrop and setting for many computer war games and simulations. This is expected as the region has seen conquerors and would-be conquerors march over the lands from both directions. And likewise there have been many video games that suggest an invasion from the east.

But Israel-based online games developer Plarium, which has already conquered the Russian and Eastern Europe market, is now looking for an invasion of the west with its online games such as the multi-player Total Domination, which has attracted 20 million users in just a single year.

Founded just three years ago, Plarium now has a staff of 250, and more than 70 million users, with 3 million active daily users — mostly in Russia and Eastern Europe.

The company hopes to annually double its revenue as it launches new games and enters markets such as the United States. The privately held company has six games in the pipeline, including two that will launch in the coming weeks.

We are growing very fast,” Plarium CEO Avi Shalel told Reuters this week. “Since the beginning we have doubled revenue every year and we expect this pace to continue.”

And instead of just sticking to one formula, Plarium is looking for a multi-pronged assault on new markets. In addition to its multi-player games, the company is developing titles for new platforms including Facebook and mobile devices.

“This is the way to go,” said M2 principal analyst Billy Pidgeon, who has covered the video game market for more than a decade. “You have to be in all those platforms if you want to be a global player in the game market.”

Pidgeon told redOrbit that Israel could also be the next hotspot for international game development.

“The game community is subsidized by the government as much of what they do is in a way developed for the military,” said Pidgeon. “I´ve seen many other companies working on incredible software coming out of there. No one innovates like the Israelis.”

Innovating and adapting has been a key to Plarium´s success.

While its online games still fall way short of the truly massive masses that have flocked to games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic or the leading champion of online games, World of Warcraft, the company has done quite well in a short of amount of time.

The company became the leading developer in terms of revenue of casual games in Russia and Eastern Europe, and expanded with its first online game Total Domination, which launched a year ago. It now has 20 million users, while the company´s next game, Pirates, is approaching 10 million after just six months.

Part of the reason for the success is that Plarium has focused on the free to play model, which offers the games for free but charges for special content and add-ons. Platium is also looking into ad-based revenue in Europe, but will only carefully consider how it is implemented.

“We don’t see it being a main business model in the near future. We want to make sure we don’t spoil the user experience with advertisements,” Shalel told Reuters.

Pidgeon noted that the market still has room to grow, especially in the free to play space.

“Look at World of Tanks,” he noted, “Anyone can be in the free to play game business and become very successful. I´m glad to see more people shooting for it.”