Video gaming 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.
In the Netherlands, an estimated of 3,000 people are working in the games industry, at more than 330 companies. 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.
- 1 Consumer availability
- 2 The Netherlands' appearance in video games
- 3 Video game development
- 4 Media
- 5 European video game rating
- 6 Video game events in the Netherlands
- 7 Notable people in the Dutch gaming industry
- 8 External links
- 9 References
As of 2012, total money spent on games in The Netherlands is almost €600 million. 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. 
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.
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.
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' appearance in video games
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.
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
- The TT Circuit Assen is by fans considered "The Cathedral" of motorcycling, with the Dutch TT being one of the biggest events in motorbike racing. As such, the track is featured in many of the motorcycling racing games.
- Circuit Park Zandvoort is a former Formula One racing track, which is currently still used for other racing classes. The track has been featured in its old Formula One-layout in the game Grand Prix Legends, and more recently in its current layout in TOCA Race Driver, TOCA Race Driver 2 and RACE 07 - Official WTCC Game. It is also a popular track in the modding community.
- Sports games
Video game development
Game developers from the Netherlands
Defunct game developers
|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
|White Bear||Amersfoort||1993||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|
|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
- Age of Wonders-series
- Swords & Soldiers
- Rocket Riot
- Toki Tori
- The Chronicles of Spellborn
- Worms: Open Warfare 2
- Bang Attack
- Ship Simulator
- Adam's Venture-series
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. 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.
Defunct print media
- n3 Nintendo Magazine; 2002–2003
- GMR; 2006–2008
- gamesTM; 2008
- Hoog Spel; 1990-2002
- [N]Gamer; 2003-2012
Television and radio
- Gamekings (television)
- GameVille (casual games television show)
- Gammo (defunct television show)
- Power Play (defunct television show)
- InsidegamerTV (television)
- Gamer.nl, since 1999 (oldest active online publication)
- Tweakers.net (games section)
- nl.IGN.com (Dutch)
Defunct online media
European video game rating
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
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.
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.
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
Was born in the Netherlands, and was responsible for acquiring the license to Tetris for global distribution onto video game consoles.
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".
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.
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.
Is Vice President of Development, and one of the founders, of the Netherlands' oldest still working game developer, Engine Software.
Was one of the first editors for Power Unlimited, and is currently head editor of the Netherlands' biggest and longest running game magazine.
Development and distribution
- Dutch developers and studio's
- Blender Institute
- Coded Illusions
- CrazyFoot Gamestudio
- Dutch Game Studio
- Engine Software
- Elements Interactive
- Ex Machina
- Grendel Games
- Guerrilla Games
- Kings Lane
- MAD Multimedia
- Mimicry Games
- Nixxes Software
- Paladin Studios
- Pixel Pixies
- Playlogic Entertainment
- Play like a Champion
- Spellborn International
- Sticky Studios
- Streamline Studios
- Team6 Game Studios
- Triumph Studios
- Two Tribes
- Vertigo Games
- Virtual Fairground
- White Bear
- ZC Funcraft
- Weber Sites & Games BV
- 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
- Publishers with offices in the Netherlands
- Electronic Arts
- Sony PlayStation
- Take Two
- THQ (website in English)
- Ubisoft (website in English)
- Vivendi Universal
- University of Amsterdam (Game studies: international master)
- Hanzehogeschool Groningen
- Saxion Hogescholen
- Hogeshool voor de kunsten Utrecht
- Universiteit van Utrecht
- Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam
- Grafic Lyceum Utrecht
- Mediacollege Amsterdam
- Hogeschool van Amsterdam
- "Nieuws: VK grootste gamesmarkt in Europa". Gamed.nl. April 12, 2008.
- "The Netherlands Announces Its Growing Role in the Global Games Industry". GameSpy. May 7, 2008.
- "‘Aanmodderen’ — Ronald Meeus, Vlaams journalist, over Nederlandse gamesindustrie". Control Online. January 13, 2014.
- "Infographic 2012 Netherlands". Newzoo.
- Martijn Müller (March 3, 2009). "Games in de huidige economische crisis" (in Dutch). NG-Gamer.