Digital Economy Mar 07, 2016

Gaming sector in Bavaria: Playground for start-ups

The preconception that computer gamers live detached from the real world and pursue their hobby in the basement is long obsolete. On the contrary, the gaming sector has developed into an industry with many target groups. Whether at home, on the way to work, in the underground or as a distraction during lunch break: games for PCs, smartphones or tablets are our daily companions.

Digitization has created a boom in the industry – including in Bavaria which can easily stand up to Hamburg or Berlin as a think tank for new ideas. No other state tops Bavaria when it comes to technical infrastructure, the diverse range of local companies and the opportunities available for attracting young and well-trained talents. The results of a study found that more than one-half of the total games sales in Germany in 2012 were generated by the Bavarian games industry alone; which corresponds to sales totalling EUR 1.2 billion. This not only involves the development of new game concepts, but, above all, the further development of the underlying technologies, for example in the virtual reality segment.

Games promotion in Bavaria

Bavaria supports developments in the industry with various efforts. For example, Ilse Aigner signed the Games-Media Funding Programme in December 2015 with a total volume of media services of EUR 2 million. The agreement between the FilmFernsehFonds (FFF) Bayern (responsible for film funding in Bavaria) and Computec Media GmbH is designed to promote sustained growth in the digital sector.

To this end, Bavaria relies on experienced partners: Computec Media GmbH is one of the leading media providers in the games sector. FFF has been involved in games promotion and funding for six years and primarily focusses its activities on educationally and culturally valuable games developments. To date, its work has provided funding in the amount of EUR 3.8 million to a total of 72 projects; the deadline for submitting applications for the next funding programme ends on 8 March 2016. With this financial support, studios are able to develop concepts, come up with prototypes or produce games. And it does not end there: plans call for substantially increasing digitization funding levels beginning in 2017.

Promoting digital start-ups

Bavaria is the ideal location for start-ups in the gaming industry to settle in. This is underscored, among other things, by the various universities and their course offerings which assist in attracting young talents to the location who can in turn contribute their creative input. A popular port of call for entrepreneurs is the start-up-incubator WERK1, which specifically created the position of Project manager Games in 2013 in an effort to support the industry. Alongside WERK1, there is also Games/Bavaria, which has served as the umbrella brand for the Bavarian games industry since 2012 and brings together all game-related companies.

It is not only the specific games ideas that have spurred the success of the industry; the technical infrastructure has been equally significant in the sector's success. Companies can also call on research and development support from the Bavarian “Information and Communications Technology” funding programme. Led by the innovation and consulting services provider VDI/VDE, the programme supports technology-oriented companies and research institutions. Algorithms, augmented reality or man-machine communication – these and other sponsored developments will have a significant impact on the games industry in the coming years.

By the way, the industry's annual highlight will be held in Bavaria this year: the presentation of the German Computer Games Award in Munich on 7 April 2016.