Gaming - more than just child's play in Hamburg

20 November 2019
Big indie gaming scene boosting transformation of Hamburg's games sector

The good news is that the German government’s 2020 budget has earmarked resources for promoting gaming much to the delight of Felix Falk, CEO of game – the German gaming sector’s association. “The decision and the broad consensus demonstrate the wish, across party lines, for Germany to play a more significant role internationally in games as a medium of the future.” And in Hamburg, Dennis Schoubye, head of the initiative gamecity:Hamburg, is also pleased. “The decision foresees making EUR 50 million available in subsidies every year up to 2023, and that’s good news.” 

Three quarters of all companies employ fewer than ten employees

Financing the development phase poses one of the biggest challenges for the gaming sector. “Developing a new game takes one to two years as a rule,” the project leader says. Before moving to Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft, which has been behind gamecity:Hamburg since 2018, he was senior PR manager at the Hamburg-based games developer InnoGames. The smaller studios in particular have difficulty financing the development phase alone. And Germany’s gaming sector consists primarily of small studios, with almost three quarters of gaming companies employing a staff of fewer than ten

Transformation in gaming hub Hamburg

Supporting Hamburg’s indie gaming scene is at the focus for Schoubye and his team, alongside pushing the next generation. “Hamburg has gone through a transformation over recent years that has seen the sector become far more diverse.” Whereas the large online gaming developers initially drove success with their browser and mobile games, Hamburg is today the centre of a large indie gaming scene. “Extremely diverse games are being created in Hamburg on a small budget but with lots of dedication and innovation.” 

International Success for Hamburg Studios

Games developers always have the international market in mind. This applies to smaller studios, as well as to the major players like InnoGames, Goodgame Studios, Gamigo and Bigpoint – as many as four of the ten largest German games companies have set up in Hamburg. In line with this, gamecity:Hamburg is to back the sector in the future with travel subsidies and programmes to prepare for international events. “It is essential that the studios present their games at major international trade fairs, meet publishers and make important contacts,” Schoubye said. The international gaming community, for instance, is awaiting the action and adventure game Lost Ember from Hamburg’s Moon Eye-Studioswith keen interest – after it was presented at a number of international trade fairs while still under development. Daedalic Entertainment has bought the global licensing rights to the fantasy saga Lord of the Rings. The “Lord of the Rings: Gollum” game will be published for PCs and consoles in 2021. 

Bringing the various players together

Networking is another focus for gamecity:Hamburg. Some 200 companies employing around 4,000 people in the gaming sector are based in Hamburg. “We bring together experienced entrepreneurs and driven graduates to demonstrate the possibilities at events like the Gamecity Meet and also introduce players from other sectors to gaming developers,” Schoubye pointed out. The Centre for Applied Aviation Research (ZAL) and Cross Innovation Hub is hosting a workshop on December 3, 2019 with a view to creating synergies with other sectors. “The workshop will look into how aviation challenges can be solved using a gamification approach.” 

Enthusiasm for Gamevention and ESL One

What do events like Gamevention in November and ESL One in October mean for Hamburg as a gaming hub? “Festivals like these raise the sector’s visibility and acceptance,” Schoubye said. Those who are not yet members of the community of 34 million gamers in Germany, but are brought along by their children or friends will be able to see the great enthusiasm for the medium and get to talk to developers. “And they will see how much devotion goes into the games, as well as the many career opportunities the sector offers.” These events also bring home how games, developed in our city, are reaching out to a large and international community.”  

Sources and further information

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