How are AAA video games made

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More people are currently playing video games than ever before, fueled by the isolation during the corona crisis. Does that have a positive effect on German studios?


"Our turnover has increased by more than 20 percent, and since the beginning of the pandemic we have recorded over ten percent more daily players," says Hendrik Klindworth, CEO of Innogames, one of the largest developer studios in Germany based in Hamburg. For many other companies, Corona is the reason for a drop in sales, short-time work, and layoffs. But those who make video games are largely exempt from this.

The video game industry has made record sales worldwide in the past few months. Both games and hardware have sold significantly better year-on-year since the beginning of the pandemic - people are at home and play. In an international comparison, the German industry is relatively small; Are German studios still benefiting from the boom? And what about after the crisis, is it all over again?

At least the figures speak for themselves: Compared to the first half of 2019, the German games market grew by 27 percent to 3.71 billion euros in 2020. More money was spent not only on software, but also on hardware. Even the Xbox One and Playstation 4 consoles sold better up to October 2020 than in the previous year - although the successor consoles had already been announced for the beginning of November. A sign that not only long-time players have digged deeper into their pockets, but that new ones have also arrived.

The German games studio Innogames is one of the winners from the crisis: Classics in the portfolio such as “Die Stämme” in particular have ensured increasing sales. (Image: Innogames)

"During the crisis, new groups of players are also reached, for example people who see how well online gaming is suitable for keeping in touch with others even during the pandemic," says Felix Falk, Managing Director of the German industry association Game. This is reflected in sales of digital games globally.

As far as the internal work processes are concerned, Falk sees German development studios prepared for the pandemic. "We have always been digital too, so there have been and are fewer teething problems when switching to home offices and other types of remote work," he says. Problems can only arise where the internet lines are too slow.

There are other reasons why Germany is in a worse position compared to large markets such as the USA, Japan or England: "The games industry in Germany is at most medium-sized, hardly any AAA games are produced here and the financing is therefore often on shaky feet", explains Falk. Smaller developers in particular, whose situation is tense anyway, could run into a financial bottleneck if the release of a game is delayed: "An indie studio with three employees cannot do short-time work - wages can then be bad." The federal government has now started and is an important step to strengthen the industry, but it has not played a role in the past few months.

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