When Russia attacked Ukraine, the international companies operating in Vladimir Putin’s country began to eagerly leave the Russian market. This also applies to game-related companies – although developers from Russia can still use engines such as Unreal Engine or Unity, the Russians fear that this state of affairs may soon change. Therefore, there are plans to create a “domestic game engine” as an alternative to Unreal Engine 5 or Unity.
There is a plan to create a Russian game engine for billions of rubles
Kommersant , the largest independent Russian daily, informed that many of the main players in the Russian IT market (including VK) are discussing with the Ministry of Digital Development the prospects of creating a domestic game engine and the possibility of allocating state funds for this purpose. The Russian Ministry of Digitization has confirmed that such talks are indeed taking place. Everything is to be supervised by deputy minister Maxim Parszyn.
The Russian Ministry of Digitization plans to gather developers to be able to know the approximate duration of the project and the scope of work. An informant from Kommersant, who is close to the government, added that the possibility of using financing from the Russian Foundation for Information Technology Development (RFRIT) is being considered, because, according to experts, the initiative could cost billions of dollars and rubles. Usually, grants from this program are 20-500 million rubles, but high-priority projects can get up to 6 billion rubles.
The topic of creating a Russian game engine was discussed for the first time on May 18 at a closed meeting of officials from the presidential administration with representatives of the gaming industry. Developers mentioned there about the continuous development of foreign engines such as Unreal Engine or Unity, access to which for Russian developers may be limited over time. Despite the fact that no one has said about it directly, it can be guessed that the fears of Russian artists are due to the increasing sanctions on the country of Vladimir Putin.
The idea to develop such an engine was supported by the State Duma. Anton Gorelkin raised the topic with the Ministry of Digitization, and the initiative was described as “important and urgent”. One of the employees of a large Russian studio described the project as possible, but extremely difficult to implement. First, the Russian government would have to agree to invest billions of rubles over the years, which already appears to be quite a difficult undertaking.
The second problem seems to be the advancement level of engines already available on the market. For example, Unreal Engine or Unity already have a highly developed ecosystem, full of ready-made blocks and integrations, and the Russian engine would have to start from scratch. Another, but equally important, issue is specialists who would be ready to start learning a new engine. The last, but no less important (potential) problem may be the manufacturers of graphics cards. Engines need their support to function, and at the moment it is highly unlikely that Nvidia or AMD would want to cooperate in the development of Russian software.