Strengthening the German games industry
According to the current Annual Report 2021 of the German Games Industry Association, 58 per cent of citizens between the ages of 6 and 69 now turn to a PC, console or smartphone to immerse themselves in digital worlds. Last year, sales of around 5.2 billion euros were achieved in Germany – making it the fifth-largest games market in the world. However, 95 per cent of the games played in this country come from abroad.
In 2019, the Federal Government launched a funding programme for the development of computer games for the first time, and the programme has since been stabilised, with 250 million euros set to be invested in the games industry in the coming years. DLR Projektträger (DLR-PT), which is still the only German service provider of its kind in this field, was commissioned to accompany the funding measure of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). "Of the approximately 370 games that have been funded over the past three years, more than 200 are now finished, and nearly a dozen are added each week," explains Dr Matteo Riatti, who heads the Computer Games/Creative Industries Department at DLR Projektträger. "There is hardly a German games company which has not yet submitted an application to us. The creative output is considerable, so in this respect, the approach is already a success."
Potential of prototypes
But what do the results look like in concrete terms? "So far, many games from the independent scene have been completed, some of which reinterpret existing game mechanics," explains Riatti, adding that big titles are also already on the way. The involvement of the Hanover-based studio Nukklear in "Dune" is one example. "Nukklear has the task of designing the vehicles of the science fiction title and calculating the associated vehicle physics,” explains Riatti. “This is an aspect that could be interesting for future titles by other companies or even across industries, such as the automotive industry. Such projects in particular are worth their weight in gold." After all, Federal funding is not exclusively about potential reach and predicted economic success. "It is important to raise the creative potential of the industry," he stresses.
Funding as a location factor
"For most applicants, this is often the first time they have had to deal with funding applications," says Riatti, whose team consists of staff members who all have a high affinity for computer games themselves and some of whom have had professional or academic dealings with the games industry. "We understand both the requirements of the games industry, some of which are very young, and the necessary process steps towards successful funding." The studios also confirm this. "For us as a German company, this funding is a clear location factor, as it also allows us to keep larger projects and the associated expertise in the country. This is not a matter of course in an industry that can basically work almost anywhere thanks to digitalisation," says Anika Thun of Kalypso Media, one of the major German representatives of the industry and responsible for strategy game series such as "Dungeons" and "Tropico".
Collaborations of many clever minds
The Federal programme is also an excellent start-up aid for young studios. With the musical adventure game "Sonority", for example, his team was only able to get off the ground thanks to the funding, says Ralf Neubauer, producer at Hanging Gardens Interactive. "Our development is a collaboration of many minds which would never have had the chance to work on this game without the funding." With success – the developers have been awarded the German Computer Game Prize two years in a row.
"The development of creative structures is the goal of the entire funding measure, an impulse that releases the existing potential of the industry, binds it to Germany as a location in the long term and puts the developer studios on a stable economic footing. With the planned continuation of the funding measure, which is enshrined in the traffic light coalition agreement, the Federal Government is taking the next step," says Riatti. "We are happy to be on board for this in the future as well."
1st April 2022 As the "Best Expert Game", Imagine Earth has won the German Computer Game Award 2022. This means that the trophy in one of the 16 categories went to a nominee from Federal funding. DLR Projektträger congratulates all the winners!
Of the 370 or so games that have been funded over the past three years, over 200 are now finished, and nearly a dozen are added every week.