This article needs to be updated.(May 2022)
Germany has the second-largest video games market in Europe, with 44.3 million gamers in 2018, after Russia. Consumers in Germany spent €5.87 billion on video games over the course of 2021, a 3 percent year-on-year increase from 2020. The video game market in Germany grew by 6 percent to €6.2 billion ($6.7 billion) in 2019.
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. 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 Windows PCs.
By 2002, German games were heavily tilted toward construction and management simulations, according Der Spiegel's Frank Patalong. He noted that "nowhere else in the world are simulations as successful as here at home. Titles such as The Settlers, Die Völker [and] Anno 1602 have dominated the German sales charts for years". Released in 1998, Anno 1602 by Sunflowers Interactive was Germany's best-selling computer game of all time as of December 2002, with sales of 2.5 million copies worldwide and 1.7 million in the German market. Its sequel, Anno 1503, broke its sales record to become Germany's fastest full-price computer game to reach 500,000 domestic sales. It ultimately sold over one million units in German-speaking countries, and, when combined with its predecessor, reached 4.5 million sales worldwide by October 2006. The titles began the Anno series.
One of the most famed titles to come out of Germany is Far Cry by Frankfurt-based Crytek, who also produced Crysis. Factor 5 had been concentrating on the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series of video games 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. 'Kickoff') series of football games, the first two installations of which were released under the title On the Ball in English-speaking countries.
The German Government, as a part of the Gamescom fair, has introduced an investment programme aimed towards the countrywide online games industry, with a purpose to offer assistance of as much as 50% of the cost of development.
Game developers from Germany
|MAWI United GmbH||Wuppertal||2009||Sells AAA environment asset packs; makes high end animations, VFX, cinematics, pipeline development & real-time 3D renders (including tech demos).|
Game publishers from Germany
|Aeria Games [i]||Berlin HQ||2006 (Founded in San Francisco)||publisher (online games) (DE wiki)|
|Application Systems||Heidelberg||1985||publisher, distributor and developer. (DE wiki)|
|Assemble Entertainment||Wiesbaden HQ||2016||publisher and developer. (DE wiki)|
|Bigpoint Games||Hamburg HQ||2002||publisher and developer|
|bitComposer Interactive||Eschborn HQ||2009||publisher and former developer|
|Blankhans||Oberhaching HQ||2021||publisher and developer (online)|
|Broken Lobster||Berlin HQ||2021||publisher and developer|
|ByteRockers' Games||Berlin HQ||2008||publisher and developer (casual)|
|CipSoft||Regensburg||2001||publisher and developer (online games). (DE wiki)|
|Competition Company GmbH||Munich HQ||2020||publisher, marketing and developer (sims)|
|deCode GmbH||Freising HQ||2018 (Ex-Descape GmbH till 2020)||publisher and developer (websites, also games)|
|FDG Entertainment||Munich HQ||2001||core publisher and mobile developer.|
|GameDuell||Berlin HQ||2003||distributor and developer|
|gamigo||Hamburg HQ||2000||publisher. (DE wiki)|
|Goodgame Studios||Hamburg HQ||2009||publisher and developer|
|HandyGames||Giebelstadt||2000||publisher and developer|
|Headup Games||Düren||2009||publisher and developer|
|HH-Games||Frankfurt||2018||publisher and former developer (casual)|
|Kalypso Media||Worms HQ||2006||publisher and developer|
|MegaZebra||Munich HQ||2008||publisher and developer|
|Mooneye Studios||Hamburg||2014||publisher and developer|
|Nintendo of Europe GmbH||Frankfurt HQ||1990||publisher and main HQ for Nintendo's European division|
|Overhype Studios||Hamburg HQ||2014||publisher and developer|
|Pixelsplit Simulations||Frankfurt||2017||publisher and developer|
|Rohn Media GmbH||Leipzig HQ||2014||publisher and developer (mobile/web)|
|TopWare Interactive||Karlsruhe||1996||publisher and former developer|
|Travian Games||Munich HQ||2005||publisher and developer|
|Ulisses Digital||Waldems HQ||1991||publisher and developer. (DE wiki - Board games firm)|
|United Soft Media||Munich HQ||1994||publisher. (DE wiki)|
|Wooga||Berlin HQ||2009||publisher and developer|
|dtp entertainment||Hamburg HQ||1995 (Defunct 2012)||publisher and developer|
|Rainbow Arts [j]
|Gütersloh HQ||1984 (Defunct 1999)||publisher, developer, producer and porting|
Popular titles from Germany
- Anno series
- AquaNox series
- Crysis series
- Elex series
- Far Cry
- FIFA Manager series
- Gothic series
- Knights and Merchants: The Shattered Kingdom
- Might and Magic series (eg. X)
- Heroes of Might and Magic series (eg. VI & VII series)
- Risen series
- Spec Ops: The Line
- SpellForce series
- The Great Giana Sisters
- The Settlers series
- Tropico series (eg. #6 series)
- X series
Within Germany there is a popular taste for historical trade and warfare simulations, notably exceeding that of many other countries. Some German-developed titles in this genre, such as 1602 A.D. and its sequels, and The Patrician, have also been successful abroad.
Vehicle simulator games are also very popular in Germany. Many add-on developers for established simulator franchises, including Train Simulator and Microsoft Flight Simulator, are based in Germany, with one of the most popular, Aerosoft, being based in North Rhine-Westphalia.
First-person shooters have also been traditionally quite popular in recent years, and there has been considerable debate about and censorship of the violent content of many such games. Consequently these games, especially uncut versions, became highly coveted in gaming circles for many years (though the modern Internet and VPNs allow players virtually anywhere to obtain a game from, or play on a server hosted in, virtually any other jurisdiction today).
From 2002 to 2008 the main video game 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 video game trade fair in the world.
The USK, BPjM and censorship
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 often extends to cuts in the content or plot of the game, as was the case in Phantasmagoria, Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, Counter-Strike, Grand Theft Auto, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and South Park: The Stick of Truth.
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). The compulsory nature of the USK label was a consequence of the 2003 modification of the Jugendschutzgesetz or youth protection law. If the USK has not issued a label, a game may be placed upon the "index" of media harmful to youth kept by the BPjM (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons). This results, at least, in a ban on promoting the game in any way and strict requirements for age checks. As prosecutors are inconsistent on whether reviews are a form of promotion this creates a chilling effect on games journalism for the affected titles. The strict requirements for age checks frequently lead to a game being taken off the market entirely, or only being made available in a cut version even for adults, due to economic considerations by developers/publishers. Independently, courts may also issue confiscation orders against games deemed to be especially egregious, resulting in an outright ban.
The 2003 changes to the Jugendschutzgesetz also announced an intent to extend the restrictions on the depiction of violence in video games, leaving open the possibility of banning any depiction of violence in video games, which was met by widespread outcry from the video game community in Germany. The then in power CDU/SPD coalition government announced an intention to enact this in 2005, but in November 2006 such restrictions were not enacted at that time.
- Electrocosmos also does co-dev & apps.
- Gentlymad Studios was acquired by publisher Assemble Entertainment in Oct 2017.
- Joymania Entertainment's founders previously worked at Blue Byte Software GmbH. Their new studio was initially named "Ohlmann Peter & Sprys Adam GbR" in 1997-1998. Ex-Joymania Entertainment in 1998-2002.
- Keen Games GmbH & Co. KG is the spiritual successor to Neon Studios with several of its co-founders.
- Mad about Pandas UG's prior firm name 'kunst-stoff' also did co-dev, edutainment, gamification, AR/VR & interactive apps.
- Related Designs Software was renamed Ubisoft Mainz in 2019.
- Coreplay's co-founder Peter Ohlmann previously worked at Blue Byte Software GmbH and early version of Joymania Entertainment.
- NEON Software GmbH (aka. Neon Studios) was bought by JoWood in 2000, but then closed down due to latter's financial difficulties. Different co-founders/shareholders later founded ZEAL GmbH, 49Games GmbH, & Keen Games. One co-founder previously founded Kaiko GmbH.
- Aeria Games merged with gamigo in mid-2016.
- Most of Rainbow Arts people moved to or formed new companies in the late 1980's/early 1990's (e.g. Blue Byte, Factor 5, Spellbound Entertainment). Rainbow Arts became part of Softgold/Funsoft, then bought out by THQ in 1999.
- "Germany Games Market 2018", New Zoo, July 25, 2018
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- Mastrapa, Gus (17 August 2009). "Germany Becomes Europe's Largest Videogame Market". Wired.com. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- "Germany's Gaming Market". 31 October 2021.
- Kerr, Chris (23 April 2020). "The German game market grew by 6 percent in 2019 thanks to in-game spending". www.gamasutra.com.
- Tatár, Susanna (14 August 2014). "How Nvidia Will Be Going Big at Gamescom, the World's Biggest Gaming Show" (Press release). Nvidia. Archived from the original on July 30, 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Patalong, Frank (January 11, 2002). "Wuselige Zeitreise". Der Spiegel (in German). Archived from the original on November 30, 2018.
- "Platin für Anno 1503". n-tv (in German). December 26, 2002. Archived from the original on November 30, 2018.
- Steininger, Stefan (January 21, 2004). "Anno 1503 schlägt Anno 1602". GamesMarkt (in German). Archived from the original on November 30, 2018.
- "FIFA 17 verkauft eine Millionen Units auf PS4 in Deutschland". GamesMarkt (in German). May 15, 2017. Archived from the original on December 1, 2018.
- "Teuerstes Spiel aus Deutschland". n-tv (in German). October 23, 2006. Archived from the original on January 1, 2010.
- Cooper, Jonathan (2019-01-14), "The Game Development Environment", Game Anim Video Game Animation Explained, Boca Raton, FL: A K Peters/CRC Press, pp. 11–26, doi:10.1201/b22299-2, ISBN 978-1-315-10587-1, S2CID 68062426, retrieved 2022-04-30
- "Assemble Entertainment acquires Gentlymad Studios". www.gameswirtschaft.de (in German). GamesWirtschaft. October 26, 2017. Archived from the original on December 4, 2022. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- Madeline Ricchiuto (November 2, 2017). "Assemble Entertainment Has Established Their First Internal Development Studio". Bleeding Cool. Avatar Press. Archived from the original on January 13, 2022. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
- "How Germans do escapism". Archived from the original on 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2017-06-02.