Graef law office, which specialises in media law, and gamecity:Hamburg are to hold the seventh edition of the Hamburg Games Conference on March 31, 2016 focusing on trends and topics in the gaming industry. Stefan Klein, business promoter and project manager at gamecity:Hamburg, gave Hamburg News insight into the game sector and the direction that the industry is taking in Hamburg.
Hamburg News: Mr. Klein, which topics will be highlighted at this year’s games conference?
Stefan Klein: We will focus mainly on virtual reality technologies meaning a tool such as a pair of glasses or a mobile phone that is used to create an intense game experience. The user enters a world of play, can turn around and reach for an object. The technology is fascinating. However, it’s still in the early stages. We want to try and sound out the potential of this technology and possible obstacles at the games conference. But above all, we want to show interfaces to other branches. Virtual reality technology gives users, for instance, almost real, live views of the interior of aircraft or cruise ships. We see entirely new sources of revenue for the games branch with big companies as co-operating partners.
Hamburg News: What other trends do you see in the sector?
Stefan Klein: At present, we are experiencing very strong growth in games for mobile end devices. Large studios in Hamburg such as InnoGames, Goodgame Studios, Bigpoint or Gamigo are earning their money mainly with games played on tablets and smartphones. The mobile games sector has also seen the rise of a new developer culture or so-called indie developer. They are well-trained young people who have their own small studios and are self-employed. Mobile online games are fairly inexpensive to develop and can be sold quite easily via app stores. That makes it easier for young founders to work independently.
Hamburg News: Does gamecity:Hamburg promote indie developers?
Stefan Klein: We support this development by offering young entrepreneurs special workshops. The aim is to teach indies how to position their products properly on the market and how to avoid managerial mistakes. Many of the indie studios are still very small and have only four or five employees and can just about cover their costs. We seek to make their concepts more viable. Indie developers are everywhere, but mainly in places offering young people good training opportunties. Hamburg does that with the private course of study offered by the SAE Institute and the Masters course in games at the Technical University of Applied Sciences.
Hamburg News: The games industry lacks qualified personnel across Germany. How can Hamburg meet the current shortages?
Stefan Klein: The lack of qualified personnel is an issue in Hamburg as well. Large studios like InnoGames or Goodgame Studios can afford to recruit their personnel at international levels. Most developers have already switched their corporate language to English to make it easier for foreign recruits. Of course, new talent is being sought throughout Germany. And the talent from universities cannot come fast enough. Most graduates of the Masters games course here in Hamburg were scouted before they qualified and are certain of a job.
Hamburg News: Which talk at the games conference are you looking forward to most?
Stefan Klein: There are going to be many interesting talks among them. But I’m looking forward particularly to one by Oliver Rößling of Absolute Software. This Hamburg-based digital agency is very progressive in terms of VR. I will certainly gain some new insight then. I’m always interested in new developments in Hamburg.
Interview by Christin Apenbrink