However, one mysterious investor is not giving up: they are keeping the project alive, which the Russian government has officially abandoned.
We wrote earlier about Russia’s plans to become digitally sovereign from the rest of the world (there was a threat to do so with the internet, but it never happened), which would have included a home-made game engine so that developers there would not rely on foreign technology (Unreal Engine, Unity…) but would use something local. However, Vedomosti now reports that the Russian government realised that it would have been an impossible mission, so Putin’s team gave up on it.
An unnamed private investor has not given up. They will take over the financing of the project. It won’t be an easy task because Maksut Shadayev, the digital development minister, describes the Russian tech industry’s attempt to build its proprietary engine as a “painful story”. He told Duma, the Russian parliament, that the proposal about the financial costs of the Russian engine was wrong, that it would have cost much more to build and that it would have been pointless to subsidise developers who chose to use this hypothetical engine.
In July, Russian state media also said that billions of roubles would be needed to create the engine, so if this oligarch is not that wealthy, they can only keep the project alive in the short term unless more people get behind the still anonymous person.
The biggest surprise, however, is that despite the state backing, the Russian tech companies that have backed the project include Facebook’s local alternative, VKontakte and Rostelecom, the backbone of the Russian internet. It was almost certain that there would be no shortage of funding to meet the needs, but the reality dawned on the Russian government: money itself is not enough and building a new engine for major technology is not cheap.
It will be interesting to see whether there will be any further developments on the Russian engine. Perhaps this, too, will go out quietly without any news.