Moscow, December 05, 2007
Nival Online, IT Territory, Time Zero and Nikita Online announced today that they are joining into a holding– Astrum Online Entertainment ( www.astrumonline.ru), creating the largest player in the online entertainment market in Russia. The move will allow the participants to formalize a united strategy in regards to their activities and also utilize their combined experience and infrastructure in order to perfect their businesses.
‛The creation of Astrum Online Entertainment– is the first, but long-awaited, large consolidation in the Russian gaming sphere‛, remarked Sergey Orlovskiy, president of Nival Online.‛Currently, the combined companies’ market share in Russia is 45%, which makes Astrum Online Entertainment the leader of this sector by any measure. Our short-term plans through the end of 2008 will include increasing that share to 65%, as well as strengthening our position in neighboring CIS countries and internationally‛.
The online entertainment market in Russia is growing exponentially, and now is the best time to combine forces‛, - announced Vladimir Nikolskiy, General Director of IT Territory.‛Acting separately in our sector of the market, each company would be spending time and money competing with each other, which would end in our inability to capitalize on bigger and better business opportunities. This union allows us, at a minimum, to use our partners’ combined infrastructure and technical solutions, while focusing our strength on our main activities.‛
In 2007, the Online Gaming market in Russia was valued at nearly US$80M with annual growth close to 100%. In the opinion of the holding’s analysts, that rate of growth will continue for at least the next several years. The wide range of business opportunities is making the Russian market increasingly attractive to leading international companies, who have begin to expand their activities here. The creation of Astrum Online Entertainment was initiated by all the partners, in order to pursue two goals: consolidate their strengths in order to develop a high-quality Russian online games market, while competing with international leaders entering the Russian market, as well as allowing concurrent entry into Western markets.
‛Currently, the online market in Russia is significantly different than those in America and Europe‛, says Boris Gertsovskiy, Vice President of TimeZero.‛While there are many similarities, the tendencies and growth demonstrate a fixed attention on Asian business models. I’m speaking of Free-to-Play– games with a free client and no subscription, but with the ability to purchase or trade in-game money and additional items or abilities. Today, this model has been well-demonstrated in online browser games and is actively winning a segment of client-based games. The companies within the Holding are also focusing on this business model in their own projects, which, I am certain, will make online games more attractive to a mass audience.‛
‛The companies uniting into this holding have a massive amount of experience developing online projects, an existing infrastructure and technical solutions‛, added the General Director of NIKITA Online, Stepan Zotov.‛A significant portion of Russian-language players around the world prefer games by our companies. Coordinating our combined strengths, we can greatly increase the development of the Russian online market as a whole. Already today, we can confidently announce that the union of companies of this level in the Russian market indicates a serious strengthening of our position in the world.‛
Information about the companies of Astrum Online Entertainment
About Nikita Online
NIKITA Online– is the first game company in Russia to release an internally developed online client-based game– the fantasy MMORPG‛Sphere‛. In many ways it can be said that the success of this project heralded the beginning of the client-based online gaming market in Russia. Currently NIKITA Online operates in the Russian market with 4 internally-developed projects– Client-based Sphere, Sphere: Rebirth, Dom-3 as well as the browser-based WebRacing. By 2009, plans include the release of four large online projects, including Sphere 2. To this day, the company is the only one in Russia that has successfully developed and launched client-based online games.
Founded in November 2004, TimeZero specializes in developing and operating online browser games. In current commercial release and operation is game TimeZero running on a light client. Focusing on a high-technology software and hardware solution, company developed an unprecedented server platform that facilitates the production of online games of any size. In 2008, three large online games, created with the experience gained from TimeZero will be released: Destiny, FunnyWar and Ordalia. All three games are based in the popular MMORPG genre and are aimed at different audiences. By the end of 2007 will be also released the online mobile game EvilTale. In addition, there are in testing phase internally developed payment system ZGold.RU and a social networking game portal Clan.Ru which which will provide a database covering leading worldwide game brands as well as free hosting for gaming clans.
About Nival Online
Nival Online is the leading operator, publisher and developer of online client-based games in Russia. Founded in 2006, Nival Online has development studios in Moscow and Voronezh and is the Russian publisher of Asian hits like Granado Espada, Perfect World and Pirate King Online (Piratia). Key posts of Nival Online are held by industry professionals with many years of game development experience. In 2007, Entis Online, the first mobile-based MMO was released in partnership with the Russian mobile operator Megafon. It has gained incredible popularity in Russia and the CIS and was honored with the‛Best Mobile Game‛ award at Russian Game Developers Conference KRI 2007. Nival Online’s internal development includes Allods Online, based on one of the most successful Russian gaming brands of the past 10 years. The game is due to be released in Q1 of 2009 and has the largest development budget of any Russian game title ever as well as one of the most experienced development teams in Europe, many of whom earlier worked on Heroes of Might and Magic V. Nival Online’s mid-term goals include releasing nearly 20 online games, both internally developed as well as licensed and localized international titles.
About IT Territory
IT Territory is a developer and publisher of online games that was founded in 2004. Currently the leader in the online gaming market, with over 4.7 million registered users. IT Territory Casual, a division of the company, is the largest casual games publisher in Russia and maintains its own distribution network for these popular games. IT Territory Nord, founded in 2007, is a casual-games development studio based in St. Petersburg and is the largest company in Eastern Europe developing games for the genre. IT Territory has 13 online game projects, including: Legend: Legacy of Dragons,Territory, Internet Bugs, Three Kingdoms, Berserk Online as well as the gaming portals, Games.Mail.Ru, the largest in Russia, created in partnership with Mail.Ru, Woh.ru, focused on online players, and Playit.ru. By the end of 2008 IT Territory plans torelease 7 internally developed MMO titles in various genres. Besides the popular RPG genre, there will be a social game as well as two strategies. IT Territory also plans to localize three client-based online projects, which will be announced shortly, and will soon release Game Money, its own online payment system. In 2008, IT Territory Casual will release 40 of its own games, including multiplayer casual games that are currently in development.