Hello, and welcome to a new blog series here on CV Where we publish stories from one of our users! This post is made by QTVNickBro in which we take a look at PART 2 of video game distribution in the CIS, aka the Post-Soviet Region of the world.
If you have not found yourself reading part 1, we can recommend doing so right here!
When Nissho Iwai gave Buka the distribution rights to the Sega consoles which meant that there were now two distributors selling the same consoles in Russia. Buka distributed the same consoles as Forrus did along with the new hot Mega Drive 32X which like every other non-Mega Drive sega product failed.
Eventually by the beginning of 1995 Nishho Iwai gave Buka the full distribution rights leaving Forrus out of the picture. It seemed that the pirate consoles were more popular than the official sega offerings but sega still considered all of it a success.
As you may have noticed the popularity of the clones was due to most Russians and people from other post-soviet nations being poor with some not even being able to afford basic stuff like bread. Heck some couldn’t even afford Dendy. So for that reason the clones became more popular.
In January 1996 Sega would appoint a second distributor to the Russian market. This time it was a company called Bitman famous for its clones of both Dendy and the Mega Drive.Their offerings barely changed since their predecessor except with the inclusion of the Sega Pico.
By this point Dendy and Mega Drive were the most popular consoles in Russia and newer consoles like the N64 were only available in markets like Moscow and were very expensive for most Russians. A year later in 1997 Bitman was bought by R-Style, an IT company that still exists in Russia to this day. They would continue distributing the Sega Consoles until the end of the 90’s.
In 1998 Russia experienced a huge economic crisis and it hit multiple businesses including game distribution companies with some like Buka folding into history.After that in 1999 some random Russian company bought the rights to the name “Mega Drive” in Russia. After that Sega went silent in the region, during this time the clones continued to flourish and grow just like their popularity and fanbase. For most Westerners it seems crazy that Russians played the mega drive until the mid 2000’s with some even playing it as their primary console to this day. But then in 2000 Sega returned to the Russian market with their newest console, the Dreamcast which was distributed by the Russian company NVT who debuted the console at Comtek 2000. The console was available to be purchased by the end of the year but at first it wasn’t very popular due to it’s high price and no piracy.
That was until the piracy arrived and by 2001 Sega Dreamcast became the new hot thing in Russia. The Piracy varied from Russian game translations to full blown movies on the dreamcast. You could buy the console in stores as late as 2003 with NVT stopping the distribution of it in 2002. Overall Dreamcast sat well with te Russian due to Playstation-like piracy. But this didn’t mean the end for the Mega Drives as they were still popular.
After that numerous companies would continue distribution of Sega Toys,Arcade Machines and PC games to Russia. Eventually ATGames consoles appeared in Russia distributed by Cyber Toy with some releases being released first in Russia and then later in other regions. Heck the Micro Drive console is still exclusive to Russia which could mean that AtGames consoles were popular but we can’t be sure due to lack of information online.
Mega Drive Mini never released in Russia probably due to the Mega Drive name not being owned by sega in Russia. Other CIS countries have their local distributors of sega games in their countries but they are so small that they seem more like a footnote in Sega’s Conquest of the CIS.
Nowadays you can get a cheap mega drive knock-off on the Russian market with games like GTA V or Harry Potter being ported to the system.
Well that was it for this article, I hope to see you later with a Part 3 being focused on Nintendo which will be even more interesting then this article due to all sorts of stuff that happened to Nintendo in Russia in recent years. Anyways See ya!