Regional Game Industry Profile Berlin

According to the recent Guide to the German Game Industry, issued by the German Games Industry Association in 2018, the city of Berlin hosts the largest game industry in Germany in terms of number of game studios and publishing, thus positioning Berlin in the mid-range of the BSR.
The identified number of enterprises range from 138 in 2016 (according to the Hamburg Study) to 175 in 2017 (see game 2018), both figures however, range Berlin on top of Germany’s game industry. With 1,900* people working in game development, Berlin has a share of 15% in the German industry. 73% of these are employees of which roughly 1,300 people are full time equivalents (FTE). This constitutes an average of 11 people per company. The number of game industry enterprises per one million inhabitants in Berlin amounts to round 49. Taking a closer focus on the size of the game enterprises, only four percent have more than 50 people working for them, indicating that the Berlin Game Sector is dominated by small companies. The average revenue of the Berlin game developing companies is 1.51 m €, positioning Berlin in the mid-range of the BSR countries. The ecosystem is supported by 3 interest and lobby associations and well accommodated in this respect. However, the availability of game-specific incubation support in Berlin shows some room for improvement with 5 general technical incubators, that of course can also cater to game start-ups, and a recent addition of a university incubator dedicated to games pre-seed and seed companies.

*The year covered is 2017.

Source: Data from BIU (2017), own chart

Source: Data from Hamburg Media School 2018, own chart

Source: Own deduction

Interest/lobby associations 3
Incubators with full focus on games 1
Technical incubators that could in principle harbour game start-ups 5
Revenue 255 m € (2015, source: Hamburg Media School 2018)

Additonal information

Berlin is not only the capital of Germany, but also a federal state with its own government, the State of Berlin with a House of Representatives and the Senate. While on the level of the federal government, there is no ministry for culture, only a state secretary in charge of coordinating common issues for the whole of German culture. Each state has a minister or senator for cultural matters.

Game is usually part of one or several clusters: media, ICT, creative industries, or digital businesses. Berlin has been named one of the most important hotspots for the game industry.

Based on the studies on the German game sector (published Nov 2017), on the Berlin game industry (published March 2018), and on the latest publication (in English), the Guide to the German Games Industry 2018 published by the German Games Industry Association (game e.V.), Berlin has the highest amount of Game studios and publishers:

Depending on which publication one looks at, the figures vary between 138 (for both developers and publishers) in the Berlin study, and 118 developers with 57 publishers (however, perhaps companies representing both have been counted twice, once for each role) in the 2018 guide. Berlin is followed by Bavaria (including Munich) with 73 developers and 35 publishers.

However, the studies show that Berlin is in particular a hotspot for young talents and indie studios. There are few larger companies: Yager, Wooga, GameDuell, King – and the newly settled (third German) office of Ubisoft/Bluebyte.

In the last years, Berlin has seen an increase of game companies opening subsidiary offices with a focus on publishing and marketing: Epic Games, Gamevil, Smilegate, Riot Games, Wargaming or Six Foot. And Berlin also offers more localisation services than any other German game hotspot region.

The comparative average revenue (in 2015) per game company also reflects the fact that the high number of game studios/publishers in Berlin comprises a fair amount of small companies: the average is about 40% of what the average of the overall German revenue per company is. The figures are vague, as there are neither consistent figures for revenue nor for amounts of companies. But it is fair to say that the average for Berlin is definitely much lower than the German average, with a majority of small companies and start-ups showing annual revenues below 1 m €. While the region of Hessen with less than half the amount of companies but the highest revenue in Germany shows an average revenue per company of over 10 m €.

The figure of persons working for/with games studios and publishers was 1,900 persons, of which approx. 1,400 were employees, 92% on a full-time basis.

The figures with the larger companies in Berlin (source: gameswirtschaft) show that 4 companies represent already one third of people working in the development/publishing segment: Wooga: 300 (2016) 250 (2017), GameDuell: 160 (2016+17), Yager: 100 (2016) 110 (2017) and King: 70 (2016) 65 (2017).

The lack of headquarters from larger companies and anchor companies is indicative of the Berlin game industry situation. Perhaps the strong presence of start-ups and small studios explains the stronger involvement of game developers in other digital content services (VR, AR, data analytics, social marketing etc.) than in other German cities. This explains also why only 77% of the game companies’ revenue is based on games sales. 23% are “other” type of revenue.

Most companies (90%) are independent, i.e. not part of a corporate group, and constitute the traditional civil-law entity. The favourite legal forms are “GmbH” (capital min. 25,000 €) and “UG”(minimum capital 1 €), the latter being close to the British format Ltd, and has only been introduced in 2008.

Only 7 % of the Berlin companies have headquarters or parent trust outside Germany. Not surprisingly, Berlin shows the lowest average company age with 4.2 years.

In support of a favourable economic climate, there are a lot of events and network activities and lobbyists in Berlin. Most notable is the organisation berlinbrandenburg e.V. with its large and very active network, including the network games:net and their project

The Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises is in charge of the public support of business and organises this support in clusters. Games is part of the ICT cluster with a staff dedicated to this sector of the cluster. The Senate Chancellery is in charge of the media support, which includes the Games sector. Together they define the “games politics and support strategies”.

Berlin Partner for Business and Technology is a PPP with the state of Berlin also has a person in charge of games businesses.

Berlin also hosts in a bi-annual rota the renowned German Computer Game Award and the annual Gamesweekberlin, the umbrella event for a whole range of successful formats such as Quo Vadis, Amaze, Womenize or Media Award for Games.

Status: 01/2019


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