The Russian game market more than doubled in the past five years to more than $2 billion in 2019, according to Yandex.Checkout, a Russian payment service provider.

Historically dominated by free-to-play PC games, Russia’s market is shifting more toward mobile games in the past year, Yandex.Checkout said.

Market overview

Above: The Russian gaming market is growing fast.

Image Credit: Yandex.Checkout

The revenue hit $2 billion in 2019, adding more than 15% growth in comparison with 2018. The top-earning segment was free-to-play PC games at 47%, or $940 million, up 4% from a year earlier.

The mobile segment was the fastest growing in 2019 at $700 million, or 34% of the total market and growing 29% from 2018.

Consoles also saw significant growth of 19% to $240 million, which indicates a shift in customers’ preferences.

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Yandex.Checkout is a joint venture of search engine Yandex and Russian bank Sberbank.

From 2014 to 2018, the overall revenues grew by 20%-to-25% each year. Yandex.Checkout said that the market has become more sophisticated and now will correspond with the global growth pace.

The top companies in the Russian market — as measured by revenues, number of transactions and number of customers — were Valve (via Steam), Wargaming, Mail.ru projects (Russian IT-giant game division), Sony, 4game (Russian game store), Origin.com, and Riot Games. China’s Tencent Games has also started gaining an audience in Russia.

Top titles by revenue are World of Tanks, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Black Opps IV, League of Legends, Dota2, FIFA 19, and Honour of Kings.

Portrait of Russian gamers

Above: Top segments of Russia’s game market.

Image Credit: Yandex.Checkout

The average age of a Russian gamer is 36 years old. Sixty percent are men and 39% are women on the PC. Twenty-one percent of men and 13% of women play console games, according to market researcher NewZoo.

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. Thirty-eight percent of the online population watches gaming video content, with 65% watching on their PC.

Yandex.Checkout notes that average revenue per player has increased by 11%, from $37 (2,226 rubles) to $41 (2,472 rubles) last year. The number of purchases per player has also increased by 14% — from 4.8 to 5.5 per year — while the average transaction has slightly decreased by 2.7% and is around $7 (451 rubles).

The average transaction is falling due to the rise of micro in-game purchases and the growing popularity of loyalty programs. The reason for that popularity is public appreciation for F2P games, free trials, and bounty products.

The number of gamers with income above average is increasing among those who frequently spend on gaming.

Yet the core gaming audience spends from $15 to $85 (1,000 to 5,000 rubles) every month on purchasing games and donations to streamers.

In terms of payment methods, the most popular among the Russian gaming audience is bank cards (45%). Also, cards and e-wallet payments are fueling subscription growth.

Streaming and esports

Female esports players are on the rise.

Above: More Russians are paying attention to esports.

Image Credit: Playgroundz

The streaming audience is consistently growing in Russia, with about 18 million gamers paying for gaming content or donating to streamers. That means about one out of every four online users from 14 to 54 is watching game streams.

According to Yandex.Checkout research, each gamer on average makes three purchases a month and also donates to streamers about three times a month.

Annual revenue of these money transfers accounts for about $18.5 million (11.6 billion rubles) with an average transaction of around $5.50 (350 rubles). The number of active streamers and sellers of in-game items stands at about 3 million people. 62% of them make money on streaming videos and sales of gaming content only, while the rest have become influential enough to promote goods and services from other segments.

The most popular esports games are Counter Strike, Dota 2, OverWatch, League of Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.