Video gaming in Germany

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Gamescom 2013 in Cologne, the world's leading gaming expo.

Germany has the largest video games market in Europe, outpacing the United Kingdom.[1][2]

The annual gamescom in Cologne is the world's leading gaming expo.[3]

Home production[edit]


German production of popular video-games began principally on the 16-bit systems such as the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST in the 1980s, although a number of successful titles were also released on the Commodore 64 which dominated the 8-bit computer market in the country at the time. One of the earliest internationally successful companies was Gütersloh-based Rainbow Arts[citation needed] (founded in 1984) who were, among others, responsible for publishing the popular Turrican series of games. Other popular developers of the 16-bit era included Thalion, Factor 5 (who were responsible for developing the entire Turrican series) and Blue Byte. Blue Byte and Factor 5 remain in existence in 2006 and produce titles for systems such as Windows PCs and seventh generation.

Modern day[edit]

German game production experienced something of a lull during the mid- to late 1990s, before picking up pace again at the turn of the millennium. One of the most famed titles to come out of Germany in recent years is Far Cry by Frankfurt-based Crytek, who also produced Crysis.

Factor 5 had been concentrating on the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series of gaming from 1999 until 2003, and released Lair, an action game for the PlayStation 3, in 2007.

Ascaron produced the Elite homage Darkstar One and continued to produce the popular Anstoss (lit. "Kick off") football series of games, the first two installations of which were released under the title On the Ball in English-speaking countries.

Game developers from Germany[edit]

Company Location Founded Known for
Ubisoft Blue Byte Düsseldorf 1988 The Settlers series
Crytek Frankfurt 1999 Crysis series, Far Cry
Deck13 Frankfurt 2001 Ankh
Egosoft Würselen 1988 X series
Piranha Bytes Essen 1997 Gothic series, Risen series
Related Designs Mainz 1995 Anno series, No Man's Land
Yager Development Berlin 1999 Dead Island 2, Spec Ops: The Line

Former studios[edit]

Company Location Founded Known for
Ascaron Aachen 1992 (Defunct 2009) Sacred, DarkStar One
Attic Entertainment Software Albstadt 1990 (Defunct 2001) Realms of Arkania
Factor 5 Cologne 1987 (Defunct 2011) Turrican
EA Phenomic Ingelheim 1997 (Defunct 2013) SpellForce
Massive Development Mannheim 1994 (Defunct 2005) AquaNox
Radon Labs Berlin 1995 (Defunct 2010) Drakensang
Spellbound Entertainment Offenburg 1994 (Defunct 2012) Desperados
Thalion Software Gütersloh 1988 (Defunct 1994) Amberstar, Ambermoon

Game publishers from Germany[edit]

Company Location Founded Type
Bigpoint Games Hamburg HQ 2002 publisher and developer
Deep Silver Planegg HQ 2002 publisher and developer
dtp entertainment Hamburg HQ 1995 publisher and developer
Goodgame Studios Hamburg HQ 2009 publisher and developer
Nintendo of Europe GmbH Frankfurt 1990 publisher, and main HQ for Nintendo's European division
Gameforge Karlsruhe HQ 2003 publisher
gamigo Hamburg HQ 2000 publisher
Kalypso Media Worms HQ 2006 publisher and developer
Travian Games Munich HQ 2005 publisher and developer
Wooga Berlin HQ 2009 publisher and developer

Popular titles from Germany[edit]


Within Germany there is a popular taste for historical trade simulations that exceeds that of many other countries, including home-grown ones such as 1602 A.D. and its sequels and The Patrician (video game).

First-person shooters have also been traditionally quite popular in recent years, which has become a controversial debate. There has been much discussion about the violent content of first-person shooter games, and as such these games, especially uncut versions, are highly coveted in gaming circles. It is possible that this popularity has arisen out of a desire to "rebel" against the state, as a thriving trade in so-called "blood patches" (modifications which reinstate the blood and gore of a game into the German version, either hacked executables, executables from another localization, alternative texture files or modifications to configuration files) has been created in recent years.

Trade fairs[edit]

Games Convention 2006 in Leipzig, Germany
German gamers of Team Fortress 2 at the Games Convention 2007 in Leipzig

From 2002 to 2008 the main video gaming trade fair in Germany was the Games Convention which was held annually in Leipzig, and was highly recognized by the press. Since 2009 it was discontinued, as the Gamescom in Cologne took the place of the major gaming trade fair in the world.

The USK and censorship[edit]

Violence in video games is a controversial subject in Germany, and German localisations of violent games are often heavily cut by the publishers to permit a public release. Usually this entails a simple removal or reduction of depictions of blood and gore, but sometimes extends to cuts in the content or plot of the game, as was the case in games such as Counter-Strike and Grand Theft Auto.

All games that are released to the public are required to carry a certificate given by the USK (Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle - Voluntary Monitoring Organisation of Entertainment Software). If the USK refuses certification of a title, it may be, and often is, placed upon the index. The compulsory nature of the USK label was a consequence of the 2003 modification of the Jugendschutzgesetz.

The 2003 changes to the Jugendschutzgesetz also announced an intent to extend the restrictions on the depiction of violence in video gaming, leaving open the possibility of banning any depiction of violence in video gaming, which was met by widespread outcry from the video gaming community in Germany. The then in power CDU/SPD coalition government announced an intention to enact this in 2005, but in November 2006 it was announced that such restrictions would not be enacted at this time.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "With 2.66 billions of revenue, Germany is Europe's top video game market, new data by Newzoo and G.A.M.E.". G.A.M.E. Association. 2014-03-01. Retrieved 2014-10-01. 
  2. ^ Mastrapa, Gus (2009-08-17). "Germany Becomes Europe’s Largest Videogame Market". Retrieved 2014-09-18. 
  3. ^ Tatár, Susanna (14 August 2014). "How NVIDIA Will Be Going Big at Gamescom, the World’s Biggest Gaming Show". Nvidia. Retrieved 17 September 2014.