Revenue in the Danish gaming industry has more than doubled in just one year, and the explanation can’t be found in a single, worldwide hit – but rather in a new generation of successful developers from across the country.
The Danish games industry is thriving. The latest report from the Danish Producers’ Association shows an explosive increase in revenue from €192m in 2019 to €426m in 2020. According to Jesper Krogh Kristensen, games consultant in the audiovisual cluster Vision Denmark, this shows that the Danish games industry is well on its way into a new golden age.
»Over the past 12 months, we have seen acquisitions of Danish game studios for an estimated amount of DKK 1Bn. From my point of view, this is very positive, as it shows that Danish games companies have great value and can easily compete internationally – because the acquisitions are primarily international,« he says.
And the succes comes from a wide range of companies: Slipgate Ironworks is based on nostalgia for 90s shooters. Brightstar Studio combines blockchain and the NFT wave with a game in the MMO genre. Ghost Ship Games has become successful with a Games as a Service model and a strongly community-driven game. And Tactile Games – which is the studio with the biggest revenue right now – is strong in free-to-play on mobile.
Ghost Ship Games was founded in 2016, released the game Deep Rock Galactic in 2018, and sold more than three million units before being acquired by Swedish Embracer Group in November 2021 the studio had.
Thus, the game studio joins the ranks of new successes. But if you ask CEO Søren Lundgaard, who has 20 years of experience in the industry, there is no one good answer as to why the wave of successful Danish games is coming right now.
»These are very different businesses, and each of them has a unique business model. It does not come from one thing, and some of it is random. But I think a big part of the explanation is that the gaming market is growing. There are new sub-markets flourishing that one can do business in. And had there been 20 more startups three years ago, we would have seen 10 additional successes right now. It’s just a question of volume – the opportunities are out here,« Lundgaard says.
A maturing industry
Although the successful games studios differ in both genres, platforms and the path to success, Jesper Krogh Kristiansen from Vision Denmark sees one important similarity: All the companies are established by experienced people.
This is not the first time that the Danish games industry has gained momentum. The Danish game Hugo was a huge international success in the 90s. Hitman took the world by storm in the 00s. Subway Surfers found its way onto billions of smartphones in the 10s. Still, the industry has reached a higher level of maturity with the new wave of successes, according to Jesper Krogh Kristiansen:
»Even though the new wave is in its infancy, I’m starting to see some signs that the bottlenecks will appear elsewhere this time. In the past, the biggest challenge was always funding, but today it is also about recruitment. It shows that the industry is growing and the scale of the need for talent has only grown larger with the industry,« he says.