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Putin urges Russia to launch PS5, Xbox gaming console rival

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly urged the government to develop video game consoles that can compete with the likes of PlayStation and Xbox.

The Kremlin has ordered the development of new game console hardware, including portable devices, with a deadline of June 15, state-run Kommersant newspaper reported. Putin also directed the exploration and development of “operating systems and cloud systems” to deliver games and programs to users.

This is not the first time that the issue of manufacturing and production of game consoles and set-top boxes in the Russian Federation has been raised. In 2022, the government discussed measures to support the video games industry until 2030, calling for the establishment of state-controlled developers and publishers, which would require up to $50 billion in investment.

In 2023, he also ordered the creation of an e-sports tournament that would include various games from Russia and its allies, such as World of Tanks and League of Legends.

Russian gaming industry

Russia is no stranger to the world of gaming, with the best-selling video game Tetris being developed in 1985 by Soviet software engineer Alexey Pajitnov. The Game Boy version ranks among the best-selling games of all time, selling over 35 million copies. Tetris is available on more than 65 platforms and holds the Guinness World Record for the most ported video game.

Although the Russian video game industry is not a major force internationally, it has the largest player base in Europe, with an estimated 65.2 million players across the country as of 2018. In 2001, Russia became the first country in the world to officially recognize competitive video gaming as a sport. Russia’s largest publisher 1C is the developer of the “IL-2 Sturmovik” series and the “Theater of War” series.

Vladimir Goryachev, a reporter for Russian gaming forum Riot Pixels, said he found it “weird” that the government had to issue an order despite the presence of “many wealthy companies.” However, he added that while the gaming market is large and demand is high, the technical skills required are lacking.

The plan comes after all the world’s major video game companies stopped selling their games and hardware in the country in protest of its invasion of Ukraine.

Featured Image: Canva/Executive Office of the President of Russia

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