Video gaming in the Netherlands

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This article is about the video game market and culture, and video game industry in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands' mainstream video games market, not taking into consideration the serious and casual games, is the sixth largest in Europe. The Dutch market takes up 3.95% of the entire European market in total sales and 4.19% in software sales.[1]

A significant part of the Netherlands' gaming industry is in serious games, in which Dutch companies make a significant part of the worldwide industry.[2]

In the Netherlands, an estimated of 3,000 people are working in the games industry, at more than 330 companies.[3] Over 45 of the companies are located in the Dutch Game Garden, a government subsidized organization with the aim of promoting and improving the video games industry in the Netherlands.

Consumer availability[edit]

As of 2012, total money spent on games in The Netherlands is almost €600 million.[4] In 2007, the Dutch game industry surpassed the Dutch film industry for the first time in history. The growth of the games industry in the Netherlands is about 50% higher than any other industry in the Netherlands' region.

Despite the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, the situation of video gaming in the Netherlands is not all that bad. Both publishers and retailers report that the crisis has certainly not caused a drop in sales, while at times, sales have even improved. [5]

History[edit]

Although the first generation of video games were obtained by a select few, video games became first available during the second generation of video games, when a select few Dutch electronic stores carried the earlier systems. With the third generation, more stores started carrying video game related products, a trend that has been setting through ever since.[citation needed]

In the early '90s, independent video game stores first started to open in the Netherlands, with a fast expansion in the early 2000s. Since 2004, video games have gotten more important for general stores however, which has led to the closing of a number of game stores, and a merger of others.[citation needed]

Currently, there are about 1,200 stores, of which about 75 independent, in the Netherlands that carry video games and related items, and numerous online stores.

Distribution[edit]

Distribution of games on physical media in the Netherlands is usually done by publishers or major distributors such as Micromedia BV in Nijmegen that cover the entire Benelux, although most of the publishers' offices are located in the Netherlands, and only a few have offices in Belgium. Since not every publisher has a separate office for the Benelux, certain publishers take care of multiple labels, including those of other publishers.

The Netherlands also has several publishers for games through digital distribution, such as via web portals and mobile platforms like the App Store and Google Play.

The Netherlands' appearance in video games[edit]

The Netherlands is not often used as an originally created setting for video games, other than certain Dutch games such as A2 Racer and Efteling Tycoon. Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, was planned to be a featured city in The Getaway 3, before its development was cancelled. The first big non-simulation game to use the Netherlands as a setting is Hitman: Codename 47, which has a level set in Rotterdam. Resistance: Retribution also featured a Rotterdam-level. Casual game Youda Legend: The Curse of the Amsterdam Diamond has the Dutch capital as the setting for the entire game.[1]

The Netherlands does however appear at times in several types of simulation games.

World War II games

During the second world war, the Netherlands was the location of some of the heaviest battles between the allied forces and Nazi Germany. Especially Operation Market Garden is a much-used setting for World War II games. The game Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway focusses entirely on Operation Market Garden and accurately depicts the Dutch towns and landscape along the operation's route.

Racing games
Sports games

In most of the international sports games, such as the FIFA football games and olympic video games, teams or players from the Netherlands are featured.

Video game development[edit]

Game developers from the Netherlands[edit]

Company Location Founded Type
Engine Software Doetinchem 1995 core games
Elements Interactive Almere 1996 technology developer and mobile games
Triumph Studios Delft 1997 core games
IJsfontein Amsterdam 1997 serious games
Jolly Jellyfish Groningen 2011 promotional games
MAD Multimedia Groningen 1998 serious games
White Bear Amersfoort 1998 casual games
RANJ Rotterdam 1999 serious games
Khaeon The Hague 1999 core games
Nixxes Software Utrecht 1999 technology developer and video game conversions
Guerrilla Games Amsterdam 2000 core games
Two Tribes Harderwijk 2000 core games
Codeglue Rotterdam 2000 core games
E-Semble bv Delft 2000 serious games
NotTheFly Mobile Entertainment Venlo 2000 mobile games
Zylom Eindhoven 2001 casual games
Monkeybizniz Utrecht 2001 serious games
Ex Machina Amsterdam 2001 technology developer
Trade Games International 2002 core games
Playlogic Entertainment Amsterdam 2002 core games
VSTEP Rotterdam 2002 serious games
Pixel Pixies Leeuwarden 2002 serious games
Grendel Games Leeuwarden 2002 core- and serious games
Eximion Eindhoven 2003 technology developer
Team6 Game Studios Assen 2003 core games
Spill Group Utrecht 2004 casual games (since 2008 known as Spil Games)
Spellborn International The Hague 2004 core games
CrazyFoot Gamestudio The Hague 2004 core games
Mindgame Amsterdam 2004 serious games
Xform Utrecht 2004 browser based 3D games
Tygron The Hague 2005 serious games
Triangle Studios Leeuwarden 2005 core and mobile games
Sticky Studios Utrecht 2005 serious and mobile games
W!Games Amsterdam 2005 core games (since 2010 known as Vanguard Entertainment)
Soepel Amsterdam 2005 casual- and serious games
Paladin Studios The Hague 2005 mobile games
Coin-Op Interactive Rotterdam 2006 video game design
BlewScreen Tilburg 2006 casual- and serious games
ZC Funcraft Nijmegen 2007 core games
Blender Institute Amsterdam 2007 Open content
FourceLabs Utrecht 2007 serious games
Weber Sites & Games BV Arnhem 2007 casual and mobile games
WeirdBeard Amsterdam 2008 web games
Ronimo Games Utrecht 2008 core games
OneBigGame Amsterdam 2008 core- and casual games
Play like a Champion Amsterdam 2008 sports games
Vertigo Games BV Rotterdam 2008 core- and serious games
Virtual Fairground Amsterdam 2008 browser based games and mmos
Flavour Amsterdam 2008 serious games
Rough Cookie Amsterdam 2008 mobile and handheld games
M2H Alkmaar 2009 (multiplayer) mobile, web and core games
Vlambeer Utrecht 2010 mobile, handheld core games
Stolen Couch Games Utrecht 2010 core games
Rising Step IJsselstein 2010 core games
Modoka Studios Meppel 2012 mobile, handheld games
Mimicry Games Leusden 2012 art games
Sparkling Society Wassenaar 2012 casual, mobile games
Blue Giraffe Eindhoven 2012 casual, mobile games
Trigames Delft 2012 casual, mobile games
Dutch Game Studio 2013 Mobile Games
Kings Lane Amsterdam 2013 casual, mobile games

Defunct game developers[edit]

Company Founded Ended  
Aackosoft 1983 1988 filed for bankruptcy in 1988
Radarsoft 1984 1987 Radarsoft continues without gaming products
Ultra Force 1989 1993 moved to computer software development
The Vision Factory 1992 2002 filed for bankruptcy in January 2002
Digital Infinity 1995 2000 merged into Lost Boys Games
Orange Games 1995 2000 merged into Lost Boys Games
Davilex Games 1997 2005 Davilex continues without gaming products
Lost Boys Games 2000 2003 taken over and renamed Guerrilla Games
Streamline Studios 2001 2009 filed for bankruptcy in November 2009
DarXabre 2001 2011 inactive since 2011
Playlogic 2002 2010 filed for bankruptcy in July 2010
Coded Illusions 2004 2008 filed for bankruptcy September 2008
Spellborn Works 2004 2009 filed for bankruptcy in June 2009
Virtual Fairground 2008 2011 filed for bankruptcy in April 2011

Game publishers from the Netherlands[edit]

Company Location Founded Type
White Bear Amersfoort 1993 casual games
Zylom Eindhoven 2001 casual games
Playlogic Entertainment Amsterdam 2002 core games
Spill Group Utrecht 2004 casual games (since 2008 known as Spil Games)
Lighthouse Interactive Haarlem 2005 core games
UnitedGames Wormerveer 2007 core games
OneBigGame Amsterdam 2008 core- and casual games
Gamious Amsterdam 2011 casual games on multiple platforms
Modoka Studios Meppel 2012 mobile and handheld games
Dutch Game Studio 2013 Mobile Games

Games developed in the Netherlands[edit]

Education[edit]

Up until 1998, whoever wanted to work in the gaming industry was best off pursuing a computer programming or graphic design education. In 1998, Utrecht School of the Arts offered the first 'pure' game education on the European continent.[6] Since 2013 the University of Amsterdam offers the first master programme focused on game development (Game studies). Currently there are 11 schools offering specific game educations in the Netherlands.

Media[edit]

Print media[edit]

Defunct print media[edit]

  • n3 Nintendo Magazine; 2002–2003
  • GMR; 2006–2008
  • gamesTM; 2008
  • Hoog Spel; 1990-2002
  • [N]Gamer; 2003-2012

Television and radio[edit]

Online media[edit]

Defunct online media[edit]

European video game rating[edit]

The Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audiovisual Media (NICAM) is the institute responsible for the software given for review for the European video game content rating system PEGI.

Video game events in the Netherlands[edit]

Between 2005 and 2013, the NLGD Festival of Games was an annual trade show for the national and international video games industry, with an attendance of over 1,500 visitors in 2013.

Between 2005 and 2009, Amsterdam was the host city to Casual Connect Europe, the world's leading trade show for casual games. After a four year absence, Amsterdam hosted Casual Connect once more in February 2014.[2]

Over the years, several organizations have organized large consumer events, usually in the Jaarbeurs Utrecht or the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre. In 2009 and 2010 several editions of Gamekings live combined a playable showcase with presentations in cinema's across the Netherlands. In 2014, a new event named [Epicon] combined a video games event with cosplay.

In 2013, Walibi Holland hosted the first edition of Game On, which hosted several video game activities in the theme park. Also in 2013, the Retro Game Experience was first hosted as part of the Sound and Vision experience at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. Smaller organizations and private collectors also host retro game events on a regular basis.

LAN scene[edit]

In the Netherlands, several large and smaller LAN parties and other gaming events are held yearly. In recent years, the 1000+ visitors have declined in popularity, with the scene seeing a shift towards smaller, more sociable events and/or events that offer more than just non-stop gaming. Additional activities include (outdoor) sports events, quizzes and other non-gaming competitions. In addition, small LAN-parties held at home for typically 5-15 visitors, remain popular.

A notable organization is Gameparty.net, a website that functions as a central hub in the Dutch game event scene, who also hosts two large annual events, TheParty and CampZone. Other major LAN-parties and organisations that have organized 1000+ visitor events include Drome, Netgamez, LAN = Life and Regroup. Most of these organizations operate on a non-profit basis, finding sponsors within the computer and gaming world to be able to operate budget-neutral.

Notable people in the Dutch gaming industry[edit]

Henk Rogers

Was born in the Netherlands, and was responsible for acquiring the license to Tetris for global distribution onto video game consoles.

Arjan Brussee

Started his career in video games as the main programmer behind the first demo ever to use 3D imagery on the PC and later both Jazz Jackrabbit games, and is currently head of Guerrilla Games. He is often credited with being the first successful Dutch game developer, sometimes mentioned as "the godfather of Dutch game development".

Wouter van Oortmerssen

Is a computer programmer notable for his work in game programming as well as having designed several programming languages. He has worked on Far Cry, and is the creator of a number of open source game engines, and a number of games from his own hand.

Arno van Wingerden

Is the lead programmer of Triumph Studios, one of the first Dutch game developers. He is responsible for the Age of Wonders-series, and the recent console-game Overlord.

Ruud van de Moosdijk

Is Vice President of Development, and one of the founders, of the Netherlands' oldest still working game developer, Engine Software.

Ed Wiggemans

Was one of the first editors for Power Unlimited, and is currently head editor of the Netherlands' biggest and longest running game magazine.

External links[edit]

Development and distribution[edit]

Dutch developers and studio's
Dutch publishing houses
  • Contact Data - among other labels: Activision, LucasArts, Midway
  • Gameworld - among other labels: Playlogic, Ignition Entertainment, VSTEP
  • Global Distributie - among other labels: 505 GAMES, Zoo Digital Publishing, JoWooD
Belgian publishing houses that cover the Netherlands
  • Atollsoft - among other labels: Eidos, Sierra
  • Nobilis - among other labels: Capcom, Nobilis
Publishers with offices in the Netherlands

Game education[edit]

Knowledge centres[edit]

References[edit]