Gaming sector in flux - events, funding and takeovers
The pandemic is leading to ever more inventiveness and saw this year's Hamburg Games Conference go hybrid for the first time. Around 180 delegates came together in RCADIA in Bergedorf while others clicked onto a special platform and watched all the keynote speeches online. Feedback has been positive, according to Dennis Schoubye, Head of Gamecity Hamburg, adding: "We had online visitors from all over the world and kept the different time zones in mind when planning matchmaking appointments. That was very well received. Around 3,000 in-game calls were started." Keynote speakers included academics, experts in the games industry and public funding institutions.
Polaris latest big event in Hamburg
Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH, the event agency Super Crowd Entertainment and RCADIA also announced the launch of "a major, new gaming event in Hamburg" this autumn codenamed Polaris. The trade fair will be held as a new games release from October 28 to 30, 2022. (A trailer can be watched on https://bit.ly/PolarisTeaser.) Polaris is set to bring a mix of games, esports and Japanese pop culture to Hamburg. Several thousand visitors from the Hamburg Metropolitan Region and further afield are expected at the event which offers yet another occasion to visit the city. The added economic factor is likely to yield even more income in the tourism sector from overnight stays, catering, shopping and other activities.
More funds for prototypes
The games industry is an important economic factor in Hamburg with around 200 companies and 2,900 employees. And the city is the birthplace of many large games companies such as InnoGames, Goodgame Studios, Gamigo and Bigpoint. Since 2020, the sector has received EUR 520,000 per annum. "Prototype funding Hamburg can be combined with other public funding since 2021 and up to EUR 120,000 are now available instead of EUR 80,000."
Financing for start-ups is also going well. Nacon, the French publisher and game accessories manufacturer, acquired the Hamburg-based game developer Daedalic Entertainment for EUR 53 million in mid February. Daedalic is known for its adventure games "Edna Breaks Out", "The Whispered World" and "Deponia" and was among the first companies in Hamburg to receive prototype funding in 2007.
Metaverse - latest hype
The global importance of Hamburg's games industry is reflected by Microsoft's USD 70 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard in January. The purchase is likely the company's largest investment in the games sector so far. "Games are the most dynamic and exciting entertainment category across all platforms and will play a key role in the development of Metaverse platforms," a press release quoted Natya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, as saying.
Facebook became Meta in October 2021 and founder Mark Zuckerberg is now touting the opportunities offered by a digital space combining VR and AR elements. Schoubye, on the other hand, remains cautious: "At the moment, it's mainly the tech investors and companies that are pushing the issue. However, user interest is crucial and and there has been too little talk about real added value so far." Metaverse is not essentially new. The launch of the virtual Second Life in 2003 saw users come together through avatars to play games or ply a trade. "Brands are always keen on presenting themselves in a new and different way. And if the experience is right, the metaverse can prove interesting," he noted. However, at the moment it is a case of wait and see.