More Than 300 European Game Developers Provide Insight On Preferred Target Platforms, Opinions On Tax Incentives, Attitudes About Regional Development Communities and MoreBERLIN, July 16, 2013 — (PRNewswire) — In order to paint a picture of the European sector of game development right before GDC Europe, the Game Developers Conference has surveyed more than 300 European games industry professionals who have attended GDC shows, read Gamasutra.com, or plan to attend GDC Europe 2013 in August. Along the way, the respondents have revealed several trends about preferred targeted platforms, tax incentives, regional development centers and more.
Organized by the UBM Tech Game Network, GDC Europe will take place August 19-21, 2013, at the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany, co-located with the major Gamescom game business/consumer event. Now in its fifth year, GDC Europe will again provide the essential pan-European perspective on game development and business trends throughout the continent by gathering the world's leading game industry professionals to discuss timely and relevant topics across platforms and disciplines.
Mobile, PC Development Booming -- Even Compared to North American Developers
European developers are embracing mobile and PC/Mac game development at rates outstripping even their North American counterparts: 40% recently released a game for PC/Mac and 39% for mobile; 49% were currently working on a PC game and 59% on mobile; 53% planned to work next on a PC game and 66% on mobile.
For comparison's sake, GDC's survey earlier this year of North American developers indicated that 34% had recently shipped a game on PC and 38% on mobile; 48% were currently working on a PC title and 55% on mobile; and 49% planned to work next on a PC title and 58% on mobile. In short, while both groups are planning to ramp up their development efforts on PC and mobile games, this trend is significantly more pronounced in Europe.
When asked which smartphone platforms their companies were targeting, 65% of the GDC Europe survey respondents said they were targeting iOS, followed by 58% for Android, 16% for Windows Phone, and 7% for BlackBerry.
New Microsoft, Sony Consoles Receive Lukewarm Reception
Compared to mobile and PC, next-generation consoles don't figure nearly as highly into European developers' plans. 13% of survey respondents were working on PlayStation 4 games, compared to 9% working on Xbox One games and 5% on Wii U games; meanwhile, 23% of respondents were planning on working on a PS4 game next, compared to 14% for Xbox One and 7% for Wii U. (Survey results closed before Microsoft announced its DRM policy change.)
PlayStation Vita Slowly Gaining Momentum Among European Developers
Sony's PlayStation Vita is actually gaining ground among European developers; only 2% recently released a game for the Vita, but 6% are currently working on a Vita title and 9% anticipate releasing an upcoming Vita game. By comparison, only 1.5% of European developers recently released a 3DS game, 1.5% are currently working on one, and 2% anticipate releasing a 3DS game next.
Android Home Consoles and Steam Boxes Among Most Interesting Emerging Markets
Survey respondents considered mobile games and the PS4 to be the most interesting new games markets (61% for tablets, 53% for smartphones, and 39% for PS4), followed by 37% for Steam Boxes (dedicated set-top PCs meant to run PC games through Valve's Steam platform), 32% for Android home consoles, and 20% for the Xbox One.
Tax incentives Best in UK and France -- But Few Developers are Satisfied
Only 10% of survey respondents reported being satisfied with their country's domestic game development tax incentives, compared to 35% feeling unhappy and 55% feeling neutral on the subject.
Asking for Europe-wide views, showcasing the general lack of choice, 32% of all respondents thought that the UK offered the best tax incentives - despite the fact that their much-vaunted tax breaks are delayed for European Union approvals - compared to 19% for France, 12% for Germany, 12% for Finland, and the Netherlands at 9%.
Many respondents cited Canada's significant tax breaks as a comparison point. "Not competitive with Canada," one respondent said. "We need more, otherwise Montreal wins," said another. Yet another developer spoke to broader governmental problems: "Most governments don't understand the industry at all," the developer wrote, "In France, game development is an administrative and tax nightmare."
Other respondents were inclined to point out that tax breaks weren't necessarily a cure-all for European developers' woes: "If we need them, our industry has already screwed up." "Tax is less a problem; politics itself is the main showstopper." Another respondent commented on how developers in Nordic countries with fewer tax breaks were still succeeding: "Without many tax breaks, the Nordic countries are thriving, while developers in France or the UK spend too much time looking for actual tax breaks."
Content Rating Systems Failing to Gain Traction
The survey also found that 71% of responding developers don't even submit their video games to content rating boards. Of the developers that did regularly submit to rating boards, most submitted to PEGI, USK, and the ESRB.
Many respondents cited Germany's separate rating system, the USK, as an inconvenience compared to the pan-European PEGI system. "The sooner Germany normalizes with PEGI, the better for everyone," wrote one respondent. "It's annoying that Germany has its own rating system," wrote another.
Also, some respondents commented on how content ratings weren't useful for digital-only games, showcasing the relative decrease importance of game age ratings: "Standardized systems only work for boxed games;" "We do browser games; that doesn't concern us."
The UK is No Longer the Center of European Game Development
One particularly striking question showcased that the United Kingdom's central role in European game development has eroded over the past ten years, according to those who replied.
Overall, 59% of surveyed developers reported that the UK made the best games in Europe ten years ago, compared to 15% for Germany, 11% for France, and 6% for Sweden. But when evaluating the current state of European game development, the UK fell to 20%, compared to 19% for Finland (home of titles like Angry Birds and Clash Of Clans), 19% for Sweden (Battlefield and Hotline Miami), and 15% for Germany (Crysis and the Settlers franchise).
When asked to assess which country would make the best games five years from now, the survey showed that Germany edged ahead at 22%, the UK fell to 19%, Finland received 12%, and Sweden received 11%.
GDC organizers intend to field a similar survey next year in the spring before the show. For this year's survey, 31% of survey respondents were from Germany, 21% from the UK, 11% from the Netherlands, 6% from Finland, and 6% from France.
Early registration for GDC Europe with savings of up to 130 EURO off on-site pricing ends Thursday, July 18, 2013. To register, and for more information on GDC Europe including a schedule of all conference events and parties, plus a complete exhibitor list, please visit: www.gdceurope.com.
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