Officials from Russian games publisher Buka have announced that the company has received significant new investments from three separate investment companies, in exchange for a combined 52.9 percent holding in Buka.
Exact details of the amounts involved have not been revealed but are said to total “several million dollars”. The new investments, from companies FINAM, EBRD North West and West Russia Region Venture fund NORUM, will be used to widen Buka’s distribution network and increase the number of games the company publishes.
"Our strategy is two-fold. On the one hand we mean to raise the quality of our own gaming projects and to publish on the Russian territory only the best foreign games. On the other hand our most important goal is to increase the number of ‘home territories’...where we conduct full publishing cycle (manufacturing, marketing, sales). For example, our representative office was opened in China in year 2004 and we started to actively expand on the Chinese market. In the long run we're planning to start working on other developing markets. In 2 or 3 years we plan to occupy no less than 2.5 percent of the Chinese market, which, according to our estimates, amounts to $150 to 200 million,” said chairman Igor Ustinov.
Buka is one of the largest and oldest Russian PC games publishers. It publishes Russian projects, including titles such as Hellforces
and Battle Mages
, and localizations of foreign titles. The company's games are sold in seventy countries and are localized for fifteen languages, including Japanese and Chinese.
"We assume that by year 2008 Buka will become the leading computer game publisher in Russia and will significantly increase its worth,” said Sergei Oparin, executive director of FINAM. “According to our calculations, after several years Buka’s worth might be over $40 million,” agreed Alexander Vlasov, investment manager of the NORUM fund.
According to Buka’s own estimates, the legal Russian computer gaming market is currently worth $150 to $200 million. This is expected to grow by 30 percent in 2006, as the country’s economy improves and piracy begins to come under control.