Working in the games industry

As a central part of the cultural and creative economy in Germany, the games industry presents an attractive working environment. In combination with related fields such as the retail, media and academic areas, it provides almost 28,000 jobs.
Since 2012, Germany’s cultural and creative economy has maintained a workforce of over one million. Only a very small share of these workers is employed in the games industry, however. As of May 2019, game estimated the number of employees in the games industry – those who work in either the creation or marketing of digital computer and video games – to be around 11,000. Additionally, many thousands of workers hold jobs indirectly connected with games. These include, for example, video game editors, professors in games studies at universities, games experts who work in politics and employees in specialised retail. When these occupations are accounted for, the number of people who earn their living with or because of games rises to around 28,000.
This figure places Germany on about the same level as the UK – yet far behind the USA or Canada, which are among the largest games-producing nations in the world. In 2016, around 66,000 people in the USA worked in game development or marketing, while Canadian firms employed some 20,000. These numbers don’t include related occupations. Clearly, Germany shows room for improvement here. Another difference lies in the size of the firms. According to a current ‘Study on the computer and video games industry in Germany’, this country’s games companies employ 21.5 people on average. The study was conducted by the Hamburg Media School and funded by Germany’s federal culture ministry. According to the US-based Entertainment Software Association (ESA), American companies employ an average of 26.7 workers. In Canada, the figure is 43.2 employees per company. The unusually high average in Canada can be explained by the various large-scale studios there, in particular Ubisoft Montreal (‘Assassin’s Creed’, ‘Far Cry’, ‘Tom Clancy’s: Splinter Cell’), EA Canada (‘FIFA’, ‘NHL’, ‘EA Sports UFC’) and BioWare (‘Baldur’s Gate’, ‘Mass Effect’, ‘Dragon Age’). These studios arose due to, above all, the massive state funding they receive.
An analysis of the German labour market shows that some 76 per cent of all workers are employed in jobs subject to social insurance contributions and that 72 per cent have permanent employment contracts. Of the latter, 87 per cent are employed full-time and 13 per cent part-time. The share of foreign employees is currently around 23 per cent – an indication that the need for qualified personnel can’t be covered by the domestic labour market alone. However, this figure is also partly attributable to the international orientation of the companies. Firms such as Wooga, InnoGames, Goodgame Studios, Travian, Gameforge and upjers control all of their worldwide activities from central offices in Germany. Accordingly, their teams include native speakers in diverse languages, for example to support the communities in the countries where the firms operate. As almost everywhere in the games industry, the working language within these companies is English. Last but not least, there is a tendency in the industry towards regional centres in which many companies are headquartered, with only isolated games companies to be found outside of these areas. As would be expected, these centres are often synonymous with the respective country’s major cities.