Vladimir Putin wants Russia to create its own video game consoles

Is Russia trying to make its own PlayStation and Xbox consoles?

Person holding a PlayStation controller

A couple of new video game consoles may soon become available in Russia, as a new report claims that the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, is looking into developing multiple gaming systems for the Russian market.

What is Vladimir Putin’s video game console request?

Based on various media reports in Russia, Putin issued an order following a meeting in late March 2024, where he instructed the government to “weigh requirements for organizing [the] production of both stationary and portable game consoles in Russia”.

According to the Russian news outlet Kommersant, Putin also ordered the development of an operating system and a cloud system for delivering video games to Russian players. The deadline for these orders is reportedly set for June 15, 2024.

Vladimir Putin
President of Russia Vladimir Putin meeting with young entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists in June 2022. | Credit: Presidential Executive Office of Russia / Wikimedia Commons

Why does Vladimir Putin want Russia to develop its own video game consoles?

It is believed that Putin’s idea to create video game consoles for the Russian market surfaced when major international gaming companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo suspended the sales of their video games and consoles in the country in response to the Ukraine invasion that started in February 2022.

Who is heading the development of the video game consoles?

Putin reportedly entrusted the development of the video game consoles with the Russian technology company VK.

VK began in 1998 as the parent company of Mail.ru, a popular email service in Russia. Over the years, it has grown into a large internet ecosystem, acquiring and developing various online platforms. Today, VK owns and operates some of the most popular digital services in Russia, including:

Social Media: VK (formerly VKontakte), the company’s namesake, is a social networking site similar to Facebook. Odnoklassniki is another social networking platform under VK, popular among users from former Soviet Union countries.

Email: Mail.ru remains one of the most used email services in Russia.

E-commerce: VK has a stake in AliExpress Russia, a localized version of the giant Chinese online retailer Alibaba. It also owns several online marketplaces like Yula (classifieds) and Delivery Club (food delivery).

Gaming: MY.GAMES is a subsidiary of VK that deals in video game development and publishing.

Others: VK also has ventures in various other sectors including ride-hailing services, educational platforms, and online job boards.

With a large user base in Russia and neighboring countries, VK is a dominant player in the Russian internet market. Although a private company, it is important to note that VK has significant ties to the Russian state. In 2021, a group of state-linked entities acquired a majority voting stake in the company. This has raised concerns about government control over online information and potential limitations on free speech.

According to the outlet, a more realistic option for Russia is to source gaming hardware from China to create a portable console similar to Valve’s Steam Deck, although even that seems an ambitious goal given the lack of expertise in Russia for such things.

Tow men sitting on a couch while playing a video game
Tow men sitting on a couch while playing a video game

Is Russia planning to compete with Sony and Microsoft?

While Russia is looking into developing its own video game consoles, Kommersant cited market experts saying that these upcoming consoles won’t rival Sony and Microsoft’s video game consoles, as the country has “no competence to produce their own PlayStation and Xbox consoles, and creating such a system from scratch will take up to 10 years.”

Kommersant noted that Russia has the option to source gaming hardware from China to make its own video game consoles. However, that possibility seems ambitious due to Russia’s lack of expertise in the gaming industry.

Sources: Metro, Kommersant
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