The brothers had started writing games in a shared bedroom of the family house, they own a top-tier game company now. Meet the Bukhmans, the Russian coder brothers behind the enormously popular Gardenscapes and Fishdom series.
Dmitry (34) and Igor Bukhman (37) came from Vologda, a remote city some 500 kilometers north of Moscow. Dmitry, the younger brother was still in high school when the two siblings, encouraged by a teacher of theirs, have started to write computer games on a Pentium 100 machine. ’We had no experience, no business understanding whatsoever, everything we could imagine was writing games’ – recalls Igor the dawn of the ages.
Their work put only a few hundred dollars on the table in the first few months, but their talent, persistence and diligence paid off soon. In just three years, the PC game-writing generated a monthly revenue of $10000, so the brothers rent the an office and registered their first enterprise.
But it was Facebook and mobile games and free-to-play content with which their business has really kicked off. Today, their firm employs 1100 people. Playrix Holding Ltd is one of the top 10 iOS and Android app-developer companies. The Bukhman brothers are behind the highly popular Gardenscapes, Homescapes and the Fishdom series. These match 3 puzzle games have more than 30 million daily users in the US, China and Japan, in that order.
Not for sale for mere $3 billion
The annual sales of Playrix amount $1,2 billion. Wall Street and game publisher giants from China are tempting the brothers with up to 10-digit offers, but the Bukhmans have refused to sell this far. Dmitry and Igor appeared on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in 2019 first.
The financially most successful games of Playrix are the free-to-play-kind. The money comes from in-app purchases; advertisements are responsible for less than 3% of the revenue. The average paying user in the US spends S$32 a month for Homescapes, Playrix’s most popular title.
’It was a major challenge for us to switch to developing free-to-play games’ – explains Dmitry. ’Free-to-play games aren’t games that you develop, release and move on to making another one. They are services that need to be supported constantly as users are waiting for regular updates.’ These games are more akin to services like Spotify in the term that people are using them and even paying for them for years.
There is always a new frontier. The brothers are now working on getting into the big leagues of video game majors like Activision or Electronic Arts.
’We want to grow as big as they are, using developer talent from our region-the former USSR and Eastern Europe’ – outlines Igor the future.