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Creative, but held back: Developers of digital games software

Developers of digital games software are creative and motivated. But the branch in Germany exists on the sidelines. Only a minimal percentage of digital games sold here are also produced here. The branch supports fewer than 10,000 jobs and the market share of German game developers is marginal. In the newest WZBrief Arbeit, scholar Christina Teipen looked into the reasons behind that: Developers have to fight with financial difficulties and precarious working conditions. At the same time, however, the potential is enormous since one in three Germans is a computer- or videogame user.

The dependency on publishers is significant: development studios in Germany that are not established yet are hardly ever granted bank credit or venture capital. Therefore, the majority of developers are reliant on the support of publishers who, different than book publishers, not only distribute and market the finished product, but also assume financing of development and production. Opportunities arise through new payment models and online games. To strengthen the branch, it is also important for public educational institutions to develop digital gaming departments.

Ever since games on cell phones and online have become increasingly important to the international videogame market (in comparison to game consoles) entry opportunities for German development studios have changed. Experts in the branch even report of a reverse trend; investment money from Great Britain, the leading location in Europe for computer game developers, is being diverted to Scandinavia and Germany. German developers could continue their traditional specialization on PC-games developing them to fit the growing market of social and casual games. And more so than British developers who are still strongly focused on game consoles, German developers have succeeded better at drawing advantages from these new technological developments.

To the WZBrief Arbeit (PDF)