Russian Video Game Giant Comes to San Francisco

by R.E.Curtice

The 1C Company is one of the largest independent Russian software developers and publishers, headquartered in Moscow. In the internal Russian market 1C is considered a leader in business software as well, however of the 13 tons of software they have been reported as shipping daily, 98% of it is game software. 1C is also a leader in localizing and publishing Russian-language versions of international software. For instance, more than half of popular Western video games are licensed and published by 1C. The company has over 700 employees, 10,000 business partners, 4,500 authorized retailers, 1,200 training centers, 200 authorized certification locations and over 280 stores in 100 cities.

In the past few years they have had a large event at the Russian Embassy in San Francisco. In this large mansion in the Pacific Heights district, two floors are devoted to welcome area with many delightful vodka drinks and another lower reception area is converted to computers and 1C games with monitors who help the news people play the games. We were lucky enough to obtain an interview with Anatoly Subbotin, Head of the International PR & Marketing Department of the company.

1C is actually a huge company with many facets. Can you give us a little background? The company actually started as a business software development company, accounting programs and etc. But games are our biggest part of 1C so in 2009 we decided to divide the company into two parts into 1C and 1C Soft Club. 1C Soft Club is the second largest Russian publisher and it's called the 1C Soft Club now and separated from 1C.

Can you give a preview of the games that are coming up? We still feature IL-2 Sturmovik, a game the brought actual success to 1C and we love it - it was our breakthrough game. The second game is Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad which we are working with American developers on this. And the third game is Royal Quest. It is the first time we entered the MMO (massively multiplayer online) market and we have high hopes for this one.

What was the game last year that did very well for you? I think the biggest hit was King's Bounty: Crossworlds a role playing game for the PC and the second biggest was Men of War. Incidentally, that game is one or our major franchises right now. This year we are releasing Men of War: Vietnam right now. The release and exposure at this venue is really important to us. We are able to bring all the major press together at one point. We of course are at all the major international expositions of games and the format we are following here allows us exposure of our games. This event is for the North American press and then we have one in Europe in Prague, the Czech Republic for the European press. At that one we get all the press from the U.K., France and Spain.

Has the recession changed your marketing or volume? I would say that the overall change in the market is that the scheme has changed. PC games used to be on the shelves in the game stores but in a lot of countries they are not any more. But they have moved to digital platforms like Steam. You may remember that two or three years ago people were saying that the PC platform was dead but with the digital platform it is absolutely not dead but alive and kicking and even doing a great job in terms of sales. It's that the whole scheme changed. The digital platform matters to us as a published and developer. For instance we did not have a distributor in the U.S. so we needed to find one plus line up retail stores. This is two or three stages and time demanding. Now doing it digitally offers us a better track for distribution.