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Aarhus-native Gaming Startup Wants to Solve Gaming’s Social Problem

The game studio was founded in 2019 and has since bootstrapped their way to where they are now. The company recently received an investment from Accelerace, which has given the company enough capital to grow the team from five to eight people, in order to complete their first game.

Online games are competitive and can often turn out to be an unpleasant experience for the players. A game development company from Aarhus has set their sights on this: Digital Devotion Games’ mission is to make it fun for groups of friends to hang out while gaming.

Online games are competitive and can often turn out to be an unpleasant experience for the players. A game development company from Aarhus has set their sights on this: Digital Devotion Games’ mission is to make it fun for groups of friends to hang out while gaming.

This article is sponsored by Digital Devotion Games – one of the partners who made “Games as a Business 2021” possible.

Today, the most popular online games all have an element of competition and,when combined with the adrenaline-pumping action, players can quickly lose their temper with one another. This frequently creates a harsh tone between players, with the biggest online games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike, and Dota2 all known for having notoriously toxic communities – “N00b, go play Tetris!”

Mikkel Søgaard knows this challenge all too well. While deciding upon education and jobs in the gaming industry, Søgaard always knew that he wanted to start his own business at some stage. Therefore, it was obvious to him when the time came that his company should be a game studio, so he could create a game that would solve this problem of aggressive, or angry gamers. His vision: to create a game where a chilled atmosphere is paramount and where groups of friends can hang out while playing – regardless of whether they are beginners or hardcore gamers.

“The issue comes from a rather personal place: I have used games as my primary social space for most of my life, as many others do today. But the older I have gotten, the harder it is to have a good social experience in the gaming world with friends. Competitive games have taken over the gaming market, and that does not create positive social togetherness,” says Søgaard, founder and director of Digital Devotion Games.

Today, if you are trying to find a more relaxed and social alternative to the big titles, you will often encounter casual games that do not appeal to the more hardcore gamers in your group of friends. That is why gamers often end up playing the more competitive games after a few hours – despite their negative social consequences.

“The games on the market that focus on socialising have been designed around short play sessions and superficial gameplay. Because of this, they function primarily as ‘social fast food’ rather than meaningful social entertainment,” Søgaard says.

Sometimes you meet up and play football with some mates. But other times you just want to chill out with them with a barbecue in the backyard. Right now, major games such as Counter-Strike and League of Legends only offer the competitiveness of a football game. The forthcoming game from Digital Devotion Games will be the game version of barbecuing on a sunny afternoon.

The mission is the key

When Digital Devotion Games was founded in 2019 the vision was not to create a game that brought the players into a fantasy realm or a hardcore action scene. Instead, the game studio went to the incubation environment Ideas Lab in Filmbyen Aarhus and simply said: “Hey, we don’t have a game concept yet, but we do have a ton of data on the social problem in gaming. We would like to remedy that problem – so can we stay here?”

“The director of the space was very sceptical, but he thought we had a strong team and he could see the issue. So he gave us a month to prove what we could do. We spent the month building a prototype of the game, which we presented to a bunch of game veterans from Aarhus. After that we were allowed to stay in the lab,” Søgaard says.

Digital Devotion Games Offices

The game developers spent the next two years at Ideas Lab developing the game – while also building the foundation of a company.

“How do we create friction-free scenarios while playing, where it’s not about winning but about having fun together? That issue is not just the foundation of our game, but the foundation of our company,” Søgaard says.

Along the way, Digital Devotion Games has had to mix in existing game genres and invent completely new ways of operating. The developers call the new genre “Adventure Party Game,” and they explain that it should feel like being in an amusement park with friends. They will not disclose any more info about the unreleased title yet.

What is certain, however, is that through recent mega-hits like Fall Guys and Among Us, both of which exude cosiness over fast-paced action, Digital Devotion Games is tapping into a growing trend in the market.

Digital Devotion Games: Get Early Access

Digital Devotion Games has not yet released its social game. If you want to test the game before its release you can sign up for their newsletter right here:

Problems are investable

Digital Devotion Games started out by focusing on a problem in the gaming community. Then they began examining how that problem could be solved via the game. This has not only created a different development process but also made the studio interesting for potential investors. That is saying something in an industry where investors are notoriously hard to come by.

“Our process, where we are building a company while developing a game, has turned out to be quite valuable. We actually hit on something. The fact that we have an issue we want to solve, and that we are actually tracking data and have different segments of the market that we are looking at, has given us a boost,” Søgaard says.

Out of 200 applicants, Digital Devotion Games was among only 16 startups that made it all the way through the accelerator program Beyond Beta by Accelerace. This feat led to Accelerace’s first-ever investment in a game developer.

“They have a dedicated and skilled team, who have an incredible amount of knowledge of their specific segment. They have a clear vision for what the future of gaming should look like, and their studio is built on a vision and not just one game. This is pulling them in a direction which is more like a common venture capital investment,” says Michael Rohde Böwadt, Business Accelerator & Investment Manager at Accelerace.

This article is part of the theme “Games as a Business 2021”. You find the next part of the series right here:

The Gaming Business Is an Overlooked Moneymaker: The Politicians Have Been Dragging Their Feet

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