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European assault for EA

As the wait continues for confirmation that EA is moving some of its Euro HQ to Geneva, MCV can this week reveal that it is to become the first games publisher with its own operation in Russia – and an office in the Ukraine could follow.

The giant US games firm has so far refused to comment on rumours that a re-organisation and expansion of its European ambitions will see some staff transferred out of the current central base in Chertsey, Surrey. But the company has clearly targeted growth in Europe, particularly in emerging markets.

The responsibility for opening up markets like Russia, and a later move into the Middle East, has been given to EA’s Northern Region operations, headed up by Paul Jackson (pictured).

Recent re-organisation has seen three divisional heads appointed, with Keith Ramsdale responsible for the dominant UK business, John Galloway running Scandinavia and Steve Bainbridge directly in charge of the new territories. The Moscow office is expected to be up and running by Christmas, working alongside – but separately – to exclusive local distributor Softclub. Its first target will be the PC market.

“Pirates flourish where legitimate publishers aren’t present, so our arrival should make a difference. And we will look at changing the Russian pricing model, which is currently three dollars for anything,” Jackson told MCV.

“There’s huge potential there and things are changing. You used to walk into Moscow’s biggest games store Soyus and they had armed guards at the doors. Now the guns have gone and they’ve got 50 outlets across the country.”

The presence of giant chains like Auchan and Metro has given EA the confidence to go into Russia and, if successful, it could be followed by other publishers.

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