While the Eastern European social networking scene is alive and well, it’s often easy to forget about, simply too small to be heard in the Facebook end of the pool. Partically owning to the simple language (and in some cases alphabet) barriers, eastern Europeans have turned to their own native platforms (i.e. others made a splash on the scene before Facebook was up and running with translations and/or the appropriate market buzz).
That’s not to say that Eastern European developers haven’t been acutely aware of what’s been happening in the Western European, North American, and Asian markets, and they now want in on a piece of the action on these more popular Eastern European platforms. The Russian social games market alone has taken off at a juggernaut’s pace, growing from $0 in 2008 to a valuation of over $30 million in 2009. Most social gaming in Russian takes place on the countries’ leading social network VKontakte, and currently has a runaway star – Vesely Fermer (Cheerful Farmer) developed by Yekaterinburg based i-Jet, which currently garners half the market. Reports are varied, but revenue numbers indicate that Vesely Fermer currently generates around $1 million per month. If this figure rings a bell, remember, Tapulous reports making the same figure, and Playdom would be in the same ballpark with an annual take of around $50 million.
To this end, the Russian stealth operator Drimmi has recently been awarded “several million” in venture capital funding from Luxembourg’s Mangrove Capital Partners and Russian ABRT Venture Fund. David Waroquier of Mangrove Capital Partners points to the Russian social gaming markets, “high levels of users engagement and strong monetization history,” as a leading factor behind the firms’ decision to commit. In addition to the “several million”, Mangrove Capital, also invested in online trivia games maker Amuso, will take a 20 percent stake in the now only 5 month old company. Drimmi is headed up by CEO Nikita Sherman, former CEO of Russian dating site Mambe, where he’s already introduced and developed micro-payments as revenue streams.