Polish game studio refused an offer from 101XP. It is a Russian publisher, posing as Cypriot

Recently, a Polish indie game dev studio, CrazyGoatGames, was approached by an online games publisher called 101XP, which was interested in one of the studio’s popular games. CrazyGoatGames supports Ukraine and doesn’t work with Russian businesses, but 101XP claimed that it is operating from Cyprus. In fact, this is a Russian company. AIN.Capital tells the details of the case.

What happened

The founder of CrazyGoatGames Maciej Strużyna told AIN.Capital that 101XP reached the studio for the Anitons game (which is not in CrazyGoatGames’s production anymore). Considering the offer, Maciej made a brief research and found that 101XP has Russian origin. After that, he claims, he replied to the publisher with this:

“According to multiple websites, your company is either located or connected to Russia. We cannot do any business with companies connected to Russia — our US partners and human conscience forbids us to do so.”

And then Strużyna got a response in which 101XP claimed that it has some of the team members working from Russia, but is headquartered in Cyprus. Moreover, its CEO is a US resident. “The company is officially registered in Nicosia and all the documentation/payments are organized from there of course,” the letter said.

Maciej declined to work with the publisher anyway, and the conversation stopped.

What is 101XP

101XP indeed has a registration in Cyprus. But originally it is a Russian company, located in Moscow. Here’s how the company describes itself on popular Russian game dev media App2Top:

“The 101XP company publishes online games distributed according to the free-to-play model. We cooperate with the best development studios and publish games for the largest Russian and foreign platforms, including VKontakte, Facebook, Google Play, Apple iOS, Odnoklassniki, Igry Mail.ru, My World, Nasza Klasa. Our applications are translated into 13 languages and occupy leading positions in the ratings of Russia and Europe. In addition, we are successfully developing our own gaming platform 101XP.com.”

101XP was founded by Alexander Ruzhentsev. He has Russian origin, but today lives in Cyprus. In 2014 he participated in the Russian business forum “Open Innovations” shoulder to shoulder with officials of the Russian Federation during Putin’s presidency, delivering a speech about the Russian game dev market, calling it a “domestic”.

The company also has been a Skolkovo resident since 2015 (after the annexation of Crimea in 2014). We will remind you that Skolkovo is a Russian state-funded accelerator, which is a personal favorite of quasi-president Dmitrii Medvedev.

The company is continuing to operate in Russia. According to Skolkovo, 101XP’s revenue in 2022 was at RUB 346,661,000 and the net profit was at RUB 1,329,000. The team consists of 121 people.

The Russian legal entity of the 101XP is active, and the Moscow office is open as well, which address is posted on the Russian version of the company’s website. Interestingly, the English version of the website contains only contacts in China and Cyprus.

The company doesn’t hide that it has staff in Russia. Moreover, it is also hiring in Russia. There are no available vacancies on its website now, but some were posted on the popular Russian recruiting portal HH.ru already after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Why it matters

After the full-scale invasion, a lot of Russian companies are trying to hide their roots, positioning themselves as “international”, while approaching European companies for collaboration or partnership. Some of those companies in fact still do have strong ties to Russia and controversial facts in the past (for instance, working with governmental organizations like Skolkovo).

Doing business with such companies is risky for European brands because of sanctions. But firstly, it is about moral issue. Do you want to deal with the residents of a country that in the center of Europe has unleashed the bloodiest war since World War II?