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Russia Reportedly Looking to Build Own Game Engine Amid Industry Freeze Out

King's Bounty II, Russian studio 1C Entertainment's turn-based tactical RPG sequel, was released on Aug. 24, 2021.
King's Bounty II, Russian studio 1C Entertainment's turn-based tactical RPG sequel, was released on Aug. 24, 2021. / Image courtesy of 1C Entertainment

Several major Russian tech companies are engaging in talks with the country's Ministry of Digital Development and State Duma deputies to perhaps fuel the development of a state-backed, national video game engine, according to a report by Russian daily newspaper Kommersant (H/T eXputer).

Since February 2022, the month in which Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, the global gaming industry has perhaps been among those at the forefront of denouncing the war. From Sony and Microsoft, to EA Sports, Nintendo and Niantic, gaming companies have recently refused to do business with Russia, which now appears to be scaling up its plans for "digital sovereignty."

Homegrown Facebook alternative VKontakte and Russian digital service provider Rostelecom are said to be among the Russian tech giants emphasizing the need to support the country’s video game industry with a domestic game engine should names like Unity and Unreal Engine be made unavailable.

"Experts call the project expensive, but technically feasible," a Google Chrome translation of Kommersant's report reads. "The problem is that a vast ecosystem of software products has developed around popular engines, the recreation of which, according to market participants, will require 'billions of rubles over many years.' In addition, for the new engine, it is necessary to adapt video cards from manufacturers that have officially left Russia."

On Feb. 24, the Biden Administration announced sanctions on the sale of semiconductors and computers to Russia, as well as an expansion of the Foreign Direct Product Rule, which forces tech companies who work with American-made tools overseas to obtain a license from the U.S. before shipping to Russia.

Per Reuters, the United States will deny almost all requests.

Ultimately, as also pointed out in the Kommersant report, it appears several major questions remain. Is the Russian government ready to invest billions of rubles over the years in the development and improvement of the ecosystem? Additionally, how many developers want to specialize in new tools?