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Winning big in the pandemic, gaming brothers are now Tencent’s top rivals

The coronavirus pandemic has created a new gaming giant, boosting the fortune of its two founding brothers.

Thanks to a rush of new gamers, Playrix has become the world’s largest mobile-game developer after Tencent Holdings, according to researcher AppAnnie. Its founders and sole owners, 38-year-old Igor and Dmitry Bukhman, 35, have more than doubled their wealth and are now worth $US3.9 billion ($5.4 billion) each, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Brothers Igor, right, and Dmitri Bukhman are the brains behind Playrix, the creator of popular games similar to Candy Crush, including Fishdom and Gardenscapes.

Brothers Igor, right, and Dmitri Bukhman are the brains behind Playrix, the creator of popular games similar to Candy Crush, including Fishdom and Gardenscapes.Credit:Bloomberg

That didn’t happen by accident: At the height of the health crisis, as companies cut down on advertising, the mobile-game developer took advantage of lower ad prices to increase its marketing. Monthly users surged 50 per cent to 180 million at the peak of the outbreak, and sales jumped about 60 per cent to $US1.75 billion in the first eight months of the year, the company said. The number of gamers has since stabilised at 150 million monthly.

“Successful games have become long-term services similar to Netflix, which manages to retain users by constantly adding new content,” Igor said in a Skype interview from London, where the brothers live. “We are constantly adding new stories, different game mechanics and levels to our games, and people are playing them for years.”

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