NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
The Russian Ministry of Digital Development is allegedly interested in the development of a state-sanctioned game engine to rival Unreal Engine 5.
As ubiquitous as Unreal Engine may be in this day and age, there's at least one global superpower that wishes to steer clear of its grasp: Russia. In what looks to be an attempt at diversifying its tech portfolio and setting itself apart from any software kits from the West, the Russian Ministry of Digital Development has seemingly become interested in the development of a domestic video game engine to compete with industry giants.
The need for a new, locally developed game engine has been described as "important and urgent," though it comes with the obvious caveat of production cost. Namely, the Russian government would need to spend "billions of rubles over many years" to see the engine fully produced and ready for use, though it's worth remembering that funding may be an issue now that game piracy has been legalized in Russia, effectively invalidating the industry, to begin with. Anton Gorelkin, the vice-chairman of the Information Policy Committee, has even requested that Russia blocks access to Unreal Engine within its borders.
It's not particularly difficult to understand why the Russian government might be interested in setting itself apart from its Western competitors. The Russian invasion of Ukraine had decimated the country's economy to the point where Roblox currency was worth more than the Ruble. If the sources reporting on this matter are correct, then it stands to reason that the Russian Ministry of Digital Development has grown suspicious of the domestic developers' reliance on Western software, and would take steps to reduce it.
Though Epic Games blocked its commerce with Russia early on, the company deliberately left open access to its toolkits and products. This was to facilitate an open line of dialogue for as long as possible, which may well have been one of the reasons why Gorelkin would be interested in blacklisting Epic and its services. Russian game developers may also be concerned that they will lose access to game engines such as Unreal and Unity in due time, effectively leaving them behind as the global gaming industry marches on.