Russian state prepares to fund its national game engine after global isolation

Western sanctions seem to push Russia to develop its own game engine.
A man working on a game engine
Will Russia’s game engine rival Unity and Unreal?

According to Kommersant, a Russian newspaper, some Russian technology companies have negotiated with the Russian Ministry of Digital Development. Companies are afraid of losing Unity and Unreal Engine due to the effect of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The war between Russia and Ukraine caused international technology companies in Russia to leave the country. Sanctions imposed by Western states against Russia made profitable trade deals difficult and deeply affected the IT industry.

Unity and Unreal Engine are widely used in the game industry. Many companies in the Russian game industry are also developing products using these game engines. Many companies will be adversely affected if these two game engines are withdrawn from the country. As a precaution, large companies are asking for a budget from the Ministry of Digital Development to develop a “national game engine.”

One of the organizations evaluating and funding such requests in Russia is RFRIT (Resources for IT). The funds provided by this institution reach up to 6 billion rubles (approximately $100m). But such a budget does not seem “sufficient” to develop a game engine that can compete with the technologies Unity and Unreal Engine have evolved over the years. Russian tech companies say creating a new game engine will take “many years and billions of rubles.”

The first proposal for developing the game engine was discussed on May 18 at a closed meeting of the Russian Presidential Administration with game industry members. Since then, there have been supporters of this project from the government. On June 28, Russian lawmaker Anton Gorelkin announced that he had sent a proposal on the subject to the Ministry of Digital Development. Companies such as VK and state-sponsored Rostelecom also welcomed the project.

Of course, Russia can develop a game engine with state support. On the other hand, it is challenging for this game engine to reach a level to compete with industry giants such as Unity and Unreal Engine in the short term. In addition, a game engine that will be developed using only Russian facilities and without importing any technology from the West may be lacking in many ways. Russian companies also are aware of this situation, so they always make long-term plans.

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