Game on Berlin: For the Serious Business of Fun Games
With around 200 gaming companies, Berlin is the capital of games in Germany.
Approximately 18% of all German games companies are based in Berlin. From startups to international players and many medium-sized tech businesses in between, Berlin offers developers the chance to work on some of the world’s most innovative projects. Most of them congregate in the centre of town, as you can see here on Berlin’s “economy atlas”.
Naturally, the German Games Industry Association resides in the capital. This influential advocate for the serious business of gaming provides plenty of market data.
Global gamechangers like King – the company who brought us Candy Crush moved to Berlin in 2014 –, GameDuell, and established game developers such as Ubisoft offer plenty of opportunity for anyone interested in the tech and gaming industry.
Where Gaming Business Succeeds
Generating over 250 million euro in revenue, the games industry in Berlin is flourishing. The capital is home to many game developers and gaming communities who chose Berlin as their studio location. The gaming scene is booming in Berlin, making the city an attractive place for young companies to expand, since they can take advantage of the number of people available.
As Janosch Sadowski of Kolibri Games puts it: „We moved to Berlin in 2017 because we saw the potential of Idle Miner Tycoon and we knew that we had to grow fast. In Berlin, it’s a lot easier to attract talented and qualified staff. That has worked out wonderfully. Today we employ more than 100 engineers, artists, and game designers from over 30 different countries. Since February 2020, we are part of the Ubisoft family which opens up even more opportunities for us to pursue our goal to become the most player-centric games company in the world.“
Kolibri Games’ success is no secret. In 2018, Red Herring had Kolibri Games in the Top 100 Global list. In both 2018 and 2019, LinkedIn listed the company as one of Top 25 startups in Germany. Deloitte awarded the company first place in the 2020 Deloitte Technology Fast 50.
Boris Wamuth, Co-Founder and Managing Director Marketing of GameDuell, always believed in the capital’s immense potential: “We were sure that Berlin would emerge as a city with an active and vibrant startup scene, and it did.” One of the turning points for him was when established companies began relocating their innovation labs and incubators to Berlin in the early 2000s. He said: “This had an effect on investment flows, accompanied by the attractiveness of Berlin as a workplace for competent professionals, from which founders and start-ups profited in many ways.”
More success stories, opinions and insights of local Gaming businesses can be found on gamescapital.berlin.
In gamescapital.berlin, Keith Kawahata, Head of Games at AppLovin, drew attention to an attractive opportunity:
„The German government also has a major funding program for the national game industry that allows companies to claim back as much as 50% of development costs – which is huge for smaller companies.“
Furthermore, regional and European support programs offer chances for financing:
The Investmentbank Berlin (IBB) offers a wide range of funding opportunities for innovative and technology oriented companies, from investment and salary subsidies to research and development programs. If the criteria are met, they gladly support small and medium-sized high-growth creative industries companies in Berlin by providing capital to help stabilize the equity base and liquidity.
Then there’s the Medienboard BerlinBrandenburg, which has funding programs for all sorts of media, including high-quality, entertaining, and marketable games of all genres.
Also, the high-profile EU program Creative Europe Media promotes the development of innovative games and games concepts
Learning to Play
Berlin has an unprecedented amount of educational offering in the games sector. State colleges, private educational institutions, and research institutions provide training with courses on gaming, 3D animation, or media management:
- Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf
- Games Academy
- HTW Berlin / Game Changer Institut
- SAE Institute
- S4G School for Games
- Universität der Künste
If you’re looking for experts concerned with more theoretical approaches to computer games, you’ll find research being conducted at the digarec (Digital Games Research Center) or at the gameslab, the interdisciplinary research center at the University of Applied Sciences. These institutions cover media studies, pedagogy, psychology, design, media law, information technology, and cultural history in relation to gaming.
Events for Game Developers
In Berlin there are plenty of ways to connect with potential business contacts and meet new people such as other game developers. Some of the key events include Tech Open Air and Hub.Berlin, along with smaller events such as coding days or TechTalk (by GameDuell).
A highlight for the gaming scene is the GamesweekBerlin, a yearly “experience platform” that usually takes place in April. With events happening all over the city in the course of the week, the conference focuses on different aspects of the gaming industry. The Pro X program includes: a Matchmaking Dinner, WOMENIZE! Games and Tech, GERMAN ESPORTS SUMMIT, a Career Day, and the PRO X: Dev Booster contest.
But the highlight of the Gamesweek for any coder or developer has to be the QUO VADIS Conference. It’s a great opportunity to interact with the smaller and bigger players and hobnob with the gaming industry, as here you’ll be able to mingle and meet established developers and studios like Ubisoft.
Taking Gaming to the Next Level
It’s only a four hour trip by high speed train (with wifi) from Berlin to Cologne, which is where Europe’s largest gaming show Gamescom usually takes place in August. This colossal four-day industry event profiles the latest in gaming, including showcasing several global premiers.
If you’re a devoted Gamescom attendee, a software developer looking for your next exciting career change, an indy founder, or an established studio, Berlin should be on your must-visit list. In addition to a thriving startup scene, Berlin still offers a high standard of living at relatively low costs, which makes the city especially attractive for young professionals. Although rents are increasing, Berlin is far more affordable than other top tech cities such as London, Paris or San Francisco.
If you are a developer and want to work in what just might be the coolest city in Europe, Talent Berlin offers detailed information about starting out in Berlin and finding a job here, and answers questions regarding residency permits, visa application, housing, and insurance. If you are looking for games-developers, freelance or salaried, or you are interested in setting up a business in Berlin, Berlin Partner is happy to help along the way.
Text: Olaf Bryan Wielk, ideenmanufaktur (Adaption of a text for reason-why.berlin by Trish Elms)
Header image: © Berlin Partner - Wüstenhagen