Annual Report of the German Games Industry 2022
From the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to the parliamentary elections, 2021 was an eventful year for the games industry in Germany. Computer and video game development initially continued on a positive path as people began working from home at the beginning of the pandemic, but as time went on, the inability of teams to do their creative work together in person presented significant challenges, and growing numbers of titles were delayed. At the same time, many games industry events were either cancelled or only took place online in 2021. Consequently, all-important networking and the search for publishers and investors was still difficult for many companies, particularly small ones.
But alongside these challenges, there were a number of highly positive developments: for example, the German games market managed to continue the impressively strong growth from 2020. Sales revenue from purchases of games and gaming accessories grew by 17 per cent, to about 9.8 billion euros. One year earlier, the industry experienced extremely high growth of 32 per cent. One of the primary reasons for the sharp upsurge is the increased number of players. Their numbers had already grown by 5 per cent in 2020; in 2021, even more players joined their ranks. During the pandemic (both the first and second year), computer and video games played entirely to their strengths as a social medium – while we all quickly tired of the endless video calls, games offered a much more exciting form of social interaction. App versions of classic board games and card games, shared experiences of epic adventures in online role-playing games or even digital tournaments: millions of Germans took advantage of the incredible diversity of games to keep in touch with friends and family and spend time having fun together. Today, six out of every ten Germans play games.
The central theme of gamescom 2021 was a perfect fit for this development: ‘Games: The New Normal’. Once again, the world’s biggest event for computer and video games couldn’t be held on location in Cologne, but that didn’t put a damper on the community’s enjoyment of gamescom; people in more than 180 different countries followed the events in 2021. The grand opening show ‘gamescom: Opening Night Live’ reached around 5.8 million live viewers. In all, 13 million people watched gamescom shows in 2021 – an increase of 30 per cent compared to the previous year.
2021 was also an important year for the German games industry in political terms. The German parliamentary elections in September resulted in the formation of the first governing coalition between the political parties SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and FDP. For the games industry, this meant a move from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, headed by Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck. This change in leadership also affects the government’s games department, which was only just founded in 2021 and worked in close consultation with the games industry to develop the federal government’s first games strategy. All we have to do is take a look at the games industry to see how important these developments actually are. Along with the introduction of games funding at the federal level, these changes have made significant improvements to the underlying situation for games companies, and they are already having a noticeable effect. For example, after the 20 per cent jump in 2020, the total number of games companies grew by a further 5 per cent within a single year, to 786. At the same time, however, games companies still rate Germany’s international competitiveness in the industry as relatively low, as our game industry barometer indicated in mid-2021. As we can see: with federal games funding, the government games department, the games strategy and numerous improvements at the state level, we have made enormous progress in the past few years in making Germany a top location for the games industry. But Germany still lags behind other games locations – countries like France, Canada and England already began providing strategic support to their games industries many years ago. If we want to tap the full cultural, economic and technological potential of the games industry in Germany, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. But the German games industry expects good things to come of this new federal government, as our game industry barometer also indicates. Consequently, the country is in a strong position for further positive growth.
This annual report provides an overview of the various developments in the games industry in Germany. I hope you find it to be an enjoyable read.
Managing Director of game – the German Games Industry Association