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Gamescom 2012 -- How Europe Fits Into The Video Game Industry

DennisScimeca

Posted August 15, 2012 - By Dennis Scimeca















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Sony GamesCom 2009 PRESSEKONFERENZ -- Zombie Blog!

Japan and the United States tend to be thought of as the two poles of the video game industry, with Japan seen as the originator and the United States as the current, dominating force. But with Europe’s annual Gamescom event starting, we thought it might be a good idea to reflect on how Europe fits into the worldwide video game industry.

Great Britain – Our Neighbors Across The Pond

The United Kingdom is the largest video game market in Europe. The British video game industry has been outselling their film industry for years just like the American video game industry has long since outpaced Hollywood. Unlike in the United States, however, video games in the UK have been held up alongside film and television as an important medium worthy of artistic recognition. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) hands out video game awards every year, and the BAFTAs are a now a major event in the videogame industry.

The UK is generally regarded as the hub of European game development. Pop over to London and you can find Eidos Interactive, publishers of the Tomb Raider and Hitman franchises; Rocksteady Studios, creators of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City; and Splash Damage, creators of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and Brink. Media Molecule, creator of the LittleBigPlanet series and Lionhead Studios, best known for the Fable series are both based in Guildford in Surrey. Rare, the developer of the Viva Pinata, Banjo-Kazooie and Kinect Sports games is located in Twycross, Leicestershire.

Ninja Theory, developers of Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and the upcoming Devil May Cry reboot DmC is based in Cambridge. Traveller’s Tales, the developer of the popular Lego games, is based in Knutsford, Cheshire. Developer Rockstar North, creator of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Notable video game personalities from the UK include Sam and Dan Houser from Rockstar Games and famed developer Peter Molyneux, creator of Populous and the Fable series.

Assassin's Creed 3 To Feature

France – The Land Of Wine And Assassins

Ubisoft, one of the biggest video game publishers in the world, is based in Rennes, France. They have studios in over two-dozen countries and own some of the biggest franchises in gaming, including Assassin’s Creed, Rayman, and the Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon franchises. In the opinion of industry experts Ubisoft “won” E3 2012 with its slate of Wii U launch titles and the announcement of Watch Dogs, which blew audiences away.

The multinational media company Vivendi, which is the majority stakeholder in Activision Blizzard, Inc.; Quantic Dream, the studio behind Heavy Rain and the upcoming Beyond: Two Souls; and Gameloft, one of the largest publishers of mobile games in the world are all based in Paris. Arkane Studios, whose upcoming game Dishonored is at the center of some heavy industry buzz at the moment, is based in Lyon. Major French games industry figures include David Cage from Quantic Dream and Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Northern and Eastern Europe – Exploring The Gaming Frontier

Scandinavia is home to a bevy of companies you might recognize. EA Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment, also known as DICE, best known for the Battlefield franchise is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Starbreeze Studios, developers of The Darkness and Syndicate, are located in Uppsala, Sweden. Guerilla Games, creators of the Killzone franchise, is based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Funcom, the developer of the new MMO The Secret World, is based in Oslo, Norway. Familiar industry names from Scandinavia are Ragnar Tornquist, Creative Director of The Secret World and Patrick Bach, Executive Producer of the Battlefield games.

CCP, developer and publisher of EVE Online and the upcoming DUST 514, is based in Reykjavik, Iceland. Germany is one of the largest European video game markets and the home of Crytek, developer of the CryEngine game technology and the Crysis series, which is headquartered in Frankfurt.

Poland is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in European game development. Notable Polish game studios include People Can Fly, developer of Bulletstorm and the upcoming Gears of War: Judgment; Techland, developer of Dead Island; and CD Projekt, developer of The Witcher II: Assassin of Kings. Moving further east the wildly successful Wargaming.net, developer of World of Tanks, was founded in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

Warface

What Is Europe Playing?

Key to understanding the European video game audience is recognizing that Europe has a higher percentage of PC gamers than in the American market, which means simulations and strategy games are popular. The German and Russian markets are particularly PC-heavy. It should come as no surprise then that Gabe Newell of Valve cites Germany and Russia as his company’s two biggest European markets.

The Russian market is tricky to operate in as audiences aren’t willing to wait for new releases to be localized for Russia. Video game piracy rates can therefore run higher than 75%. This is part of the reason that free-to-play games like World of Tanks and Warface are becoming huge titles in Russia, as free-to-play turns games into a service and thus undercuts piracy, making this an excellent monetization method for the Russian market.

If you think about all these big name European developers and the size of burgeoning European markets like Russia it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Gamescom, which has been held in Cologne, Germany since 2009, is the world’s largest video game event.

Unlike E3 which is only open to members of the industry and the video game press Gamescom is open to the public with paid admission. 275,000 people attended Gamescom in 2011, and the event draws enough members of the video game industry that the Game Developers Conference Europe is held in tandem.

Dennis Scimeca is a freelance writer from Boston, MA. He’ll be ready to discuss all the news from Gamescom with you on Twitter: @DennisScimeca.

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