Is the boom in video games arriving in the German industry?

Berlin (dpa) – People like to talk about economic winners and losers in the pandemic. While entire industries stand still because of the necessary restrictions, there are some that are doing well in the pandemic too.

People have to do something – and video games are just the thing for many.

Carsten Fichtelmann, managing director of the German game publisher Daedalic Entertainment in Hamburg, sees himself “definitely on the winning side”. “We can just keep working and sell our products.” Daedalic is known for games like the adventure series “Deponia” and is currently developing “Lord of the Rings: Gollum”.

“For us it was financially the best year that we have had so far,” says Christoph Rienäcker, managing director of the Barrell Roll Games studio from Eilenstedt in Saxony-Anhalt. “The question is whether it was just because of the pandemic – there are probably various factors. But we cannot complain.”

The small company develops the game “Witch It”, in which hunters compete against witches. After a public test phase of around three years, known as Early Access, the full version was released in October.

Felix Falk, Managing Director of the Game Association, is more cautious in his assessment of the situation. “For the games industry, Corona means both light and shadow,” he says. “Light because more people are playing than ever before. Especially in lockdown, games help people, entertain them and keep them connected to friends and family.” The games market grew by 27 percent in the first half of 2020.

But despite the successes, Corona also brings problems. “In Germany in particular, we are still characterized as a small and medium-sized industry. As a result, many companies do not have a large financial buffer.” For example, development plans could not be adhered to due to delays caused by home office. “Financing bottlenecks can arise quickly as a result. But overall, I think we are doing very well. Also because the games industry has always been digital and handles home offices and other digital challenges very well,” says Falk.

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The problem for the German market: Only a small part of the sales that are made in this country with video games also go to German companies. The big players in the industry come from the USA, Japan, China – or France and Poland. The association has therefore been calling for more government funding for the industry for years. The federal government plans to provide 50 million euros in 2021.

So will we all become gamblers in lockdown? “The people who grew up with games now play more and they also buy more because they are simply more at home,” says Daedalic managing director Fichtelmann.

Multiplayer games are especially popular. “There is a growth in the use of these games. Because the pure telephone call does not replace face-to-face meetings, but games offer the opportunity to find entertainment and diversion while being in contact with friends and family at the same time,” says Falk.

“Witch It” is one of those multiplayer games. However, the Chinese market was largely responsible for the success of the game. “At the end of last year we went viral in China with a few posts,” says Rienäcker. “That has definitely carried on into this year, we have very good sales in China. And when that started with Corona, it multiplied again.”

The German video game industry is also optimistic about the coming year, according to the game industry barometer, in which the association’s 320 members are questioned. Seven out of ten games companies in Germany expect a positive development in the coming year, 45 percent of the companies are planning new hires.


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