Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Gaming wants European politicians to start playing

Press play to listen to this article

COLOGNE, Germany — Hooded medieval assassins with red coattails are rushing through the hallways of a sleek grey building in Cologne. Brawl Stars’ bright-colored cartoon characters are about to start battling to cheers from hundreds of people.

Gaming attracts enthusiastic fans like few other industries. Gaming companies just wish some of those fans were European policymakers who would devote themselves to what they say is an important part of European culture that provides almost 100,000 jobs and pulls in revenues of €23.3 billion in Europe alone.

Over 265,000 people flocked to GamesCom, the world’s biggest gaming convention, in August, to immerse themselves in parallel universes to sail across the Indian Ocean as pirates, fend off zombie attacks or meet their stars, people who film themselves gaming on platforms like YouTube and Twitch.

The assassins were among hundreds of people dressing up as their favorite gaming characters. The “Assassin’s Creed” game from France’s Ubisoft is one of Europe’s biggest gaming successes. It’s not alone: Poland’s CD Projekt had an international blockbuster with “The Witcher” — gifted to former U.S. President Barack Obama on a trip to Europe. But several other European games-makers, like Finland’s Supercell or Sweden’s Candy Crush creator King, have been snatched up by bigger American or Asian rivals like Activision Blizzard and Tencent.

“Video games are a huge cultural asset and it’s important not just to import but to create our own and export it to the world, generating revenues and developing new technologies,” said Felix Falk, the head of Game, a group that represents more the German gaming industry.

Gaming is now the biggest entertainment market with filmmakers and publishers keen to make tie-ins. More than half of Europeans now play some kind of games on phones, TVs and computers.

“Before, you had a film after the book now you have the game after the book,” said Falk.

German Economy and Climate Action Minister Robert Habeck wants to see the country making more games and he’s seeing a “dramatic” increase in requests for support and grants | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Germany has a national strategy since last year to boost gaming. Germany’s powerful vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, told the convention that the government wants to see the country making more games and he’s seeing a “dramatic” increase in requests for support and grants.

He failed to make an appearance in person, sending a video message to an opening event.

While a few European lawmakers, advisers and Commission officials visited the annual gaming festival, the international event lacked a high-level, real-world political presence. 

Brussels is still attempting to figure out a plan. The European Commission has ordered a study to identify how to help European gaming. The European Parliament’s culture committee is hoping to nudge the European Union executive into action with a set of non-binding recommendations planned for the fall.

For now, the industry is frustrated and worried that it could lose ground to strong foreign competitors.

Europe needs to improve access to funding, according to Jari-Pekka Kaleva, the managing director at European Games Developer Federation (EGDF), a European group gathering 23 trade national associations. One irritation is that, unlike films, public funding for video games needs EU state aid approval which is slow and cumbersome, he said.

“If we don’t produce the single most important cultural content of the 21st century, it will happen somewhere else, in the United States or in China,” said Kaleva.

This article is part of POLITICO Pro

The one-stop-shop solution for policy professionals fusing the depth of POLITICO journalism with the power of technology

Exclusive, breaking scoops and insights

Customized policy intelligence platform

A high-level public affairs network

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like


BERLIN — Ammunition running low, fighter jet purchases possibly delayed, defense spending promises missed. Germany’s grand ambitions to become Europe’s military power are off...


Congratulations, Dr. McGuinness, on your appointment as executive director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). ECHA plays a central role in the implementation of...


For generations of European Union officials, the top quality, free education laid on for their children in Brussels has been one of the most...


The real chancellor Doer No. 1 — Germany When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, one question emerged immediately: What will Europe do? To answer...


The U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Julianne Smith, said she was “not worried” about former President Donald Trump’s possible return to...


The EU must avoid the “slippery road” of protectionism as it enters a fractious industrial showdown with the United States, European Parliament President Roberta...


France’s EU commissioner, Thierry Breton, fired the starting gun in the race to succeed Ursula von der Leyen as European Commission president Wednesday, dropping...


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak handed restive Conservative MPs in England’s north a major win Wednesday, allowing the construction of the U.K.’s first new deep...