A single video game initiated the growth of an enormous, worldwide industry during the span of just a few decades. Now, entrepreneurs are creating businesses by inventing new subgenres, which are taking gaming technologies and mechanics to new heights.

The gaming industry was started by a single game in a university in the US back in 1962, when a group of young engineers created the game Spacewar. A simple game by today’s standards, which primarily consists of a bunch of white dots moving on a black screen.

Yet this simple game, where two players have to move their spaceships and shoot at each other, has grown into a global industry.

Even though the game is recognised as the first of its kind, one of its inventors later disclosed that it was not written in the stars that video games would be born at exactly that moment in time.

“If I hadn’t done it, someone would’ve done something equally exciting, if not better, in the next six months. I just happened to get there first,” Steve Russel, one of the inventors of Spacewar, later stated.

One game became a global mega-industry. And that industry has always been driven by innovative entrepreneurs, who continually tested the boundaries of what was technological possible – and along the way invented a myriad of new genres, subgenres, and business models.

“Screenshot” from the Spacewar!-game. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.

A Danish Netflix for gamers

If esport is a game development subgenre, GamerzClass is a subgenre to the subgenre. The company offers training in esports, which the players use to better the game. But even though it exists in a niche within a niche, the potential for growth is huge.

In the last two years, the company has gained thousands of subscribers and has grown to 20 employees working full time in a basement in the Copenhagen borough Nørrebro. Both Danish and international venture funds see the potential and have invested millions of Danish Kroner in the company.

“It is going well and we have even gotten bigger during the pandemic. We have a hard time imagining a world without a Netflix for gaming content. So that is what we aim to be,” says Victor Folmann, CEO and co-founder of GamerzClass.

Most recently, the startup has gotten an insight into how they might appeal to the general public by collaborating with telephone provider 3, which offered their customers access to GamerzClass in addition to their phone subscription.

Their ambitions for user growth are also massive: by the end of 2021, GamerzClass expects to have at least 100.000 subscribers, and by 2024 that number should have grown to over one million.

Part of the team behind GamerzClass.

A benefit for game developers

GamerzClass is positioned somewhere between gaming, EdTech, and entertainment. But the potential for experiencing a new growth spurt is first and foremost created by large game publishers. Otherwise, companies like GamerzClass would not have a curriculum to teach.

“The gaming industry develops games and we create educational content. We are basically building our business on a game. Game developers are good at getting people hooked, so a lot of people already have a problem: They want to get better at the game. But they are not being cared for enough by the developers, so we are stepping in by offering structured lessons,” Folmann says.

However, the relationship goes both ways: The developers also benefit from GamerzClass’ new service.

“When the players get better it will keep them playing for a longer time, so we are actually giving each other a boost. An interesting thing we experience is that some are still subscribed to GamerzClass even after they have stopped playing the game. They like being part of the community surrounding the game,” Folmann says.

The gaming industry is taking over other sectors

The Danish startup Rokoko has developed a suit that can record and capture motion. Initially, it was primarily targeted at movie-makers, but the gaming industry is now Rokoko’s fastest-growing market, as it enables much easier character animation for games.

Jakob Balslev, CEO and co-founder of Rokoko.

“Parallels can be drawn from the gaming industry to a lot of other industries. Hollywood already uses gaming engines from Unreal and Unity for large chunks of their production, and we see a lot of other hybrids where tools from the gaming industry are combined with our suit in a wealth of industries. The divide between how you make games, movies and other 3D applications is getting smaller and smaller,” says Jakob Balslev, CEO and co-founder of Rokoko.

More Hollywood movies are depending on computer animations. But Hollywood is also spilling across into the gaming industry. The actor Eric Jacobus became famous for providing motion footage for the main character Kratos, in the video game ‘God of War’.

According to Balslev, it is just a taste of how tools from the gaming industry, such as Rokoko’s, are well on their way to making their entrance in all sorts of other industries.

“Architecture, design, safety, health, the car industry, fitness, sports – we have people writing to us from all sorts of industries who want to use our technology, even though we primarily market ourselves to the entertainment industry. And in most places, it is game developers who have to solve the task,” Balslev says.

Recently, Rokoko sold a suit to the car manufacturer Tesla, who will be using it to simulate human movement in the digital environment where they are developing their cars.

“This way, innovation from the gaming industry has an impact which transcends everything. I think the lines are getting increasingly blurred,” Balslev says.

For Rokoko, gaming is their fastest-growing segment, both in the form of studios that buy a motion capture suit from the Danish startup, but also because Rokoko has created a “Motion Library”, where game developers can buy movements that they can use in their game without difficulty.

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

The Gaming Industry is Experiencing a Gold Rush. But Danish Investors Are Not Digging