GAMES

Domain

On the Games domain page we discuss developments in the production, distribution and consumption of digital games, as well as the infrastructure surrounding them. Because the gaming industry is inherently international, both Dutch and international data and insights are used. The Games domain currently only includes video games. Other forms of digital culture and games will be added to the Culture Monitor in the future.

Summary

The Games domain is growing with impressive figures every year. The number of game makers is growing rapidly, as are the number of players and revenue. The corona crisis has generally strengthened this growth. In addition to the economic value, the cultural recognition of games is also increasing. This increasingly creates areas of overlap with other cultural domains.

Nevertheless, the industry also faces challenges. For example, Dutch makers can make much less use of subsidy options than their foreign colleagues. Additional efforts are needed to preserve (Dutch) games as cultural heritage. The growing number of new games makes it more difficult to stand out with a new game. And there is still a long way to go in the field of diversity, although a positive development is that more and more individuals and organizations are taking this path.

Introduction and key figures

Video games offer a wide variety of experiences. From games that are about mental health or that allow the player to contribute to the search for a vaccine against cancer, to games starring a heavily armed axolotl or a mail-delivering gnome. Games about theatre, music and literature. Reflective puzzle games and chaotic multiplayer games. Games that bring the past to life or let you shape the world of tomorrow. 

All these games emerge from a young industry that included approximately 2021 workers and 4.560 companies in the Netherlands in 630 (Dutch Game Garden 2022). These are predominantly relatively small companies – the Netherlands has few really large game studios. Moreover, these companies are mainly located in the Randstad (Grinsven et al., 2024). Most companies in the industry are concerned with developing new games, often making a distinction between applied  (Of serious)  games en entertainment games.  applied games are usually developed for a client and are used, among other things, in education, healthcare, for training purposes, as marketing or for awareness. In 2018, approximately a third of all game developers in the Netherlands created exclusively applied games – Internationally speaking, the Netherlands has many makers of these types of games. The other developers mainly focus on entertainment games for consumers (Grinsven et al. 2019). Entertainment games also offer different experiences. There are more and more makers who use the possibilities of the medium to tell personal stories or explore social themes. More recently, there has also been the rise of Wholesome Games, which focus on feelings of comfort and coziness (Control 2023). These games are played on computers (PC games), smartphones and tablets (mobile games) and special game consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, Xbox or PlayStation (console games). 

The already strong growth of the gaming industry accelerated during the corona years because many people sought refuge in games. Global turnover rose sharply between 2019 and 2021 from 144,4 to 192,7 billion dollars. The Dutch industry has also experienced growth in recent years: turnover increased from 225 to 300 million in 2018 to 420 to 440 million in 2021 (Grinsven et al., 2019; Dutch Game Garden 2022). On the one hand, the industry now seems to be stabilizing, with all possible consequences for makers. Although no data is yet available on the Dutch context after the corona years, there are sounds worldwide about reorganizations, bankruptcies and layoffs at both small companies and large publishers and studios in 2023 (van Ammelrooy, 2023). On the other hand, there was a hopeful mood at the last edition of INDIGO, an annual Dutch gaming conference: many professionals trust the ability of the gaming industry to lead in the increasing digitalization and there is a strong group of professional makers in the Netherlands (Maessen, 2023a).  

Partly because games from Dutch makers appear in many places, it is difficult to measure how many games they produce per year. This is also methodologically difficult. For example, game makers regularly develop updates for existing titles or release these titles for new systems. Only an overview of new titles therefore gives an underestimate of the actual production. To gain a little more insight into this, the Dutch Game Industry Directory from game developer Adriaan de Jongh has been expanded to include the possibility of deriving statistics from this (Otterlo 2021b). Developers can add their games to this database themselves, and have been regularly invited to do so since the update. At this time the database is not yet complete and in particular applied games underrepresented, but the hope is that the Directory will become increasingly accurate in the future. According to current statistics, 16 new Dutch games were released in 2021, 24 in 2022 and 18 in 2023.

Dutch gaming industry

This figure shows the number of companies, the number of jobs and the estimated turnover within the Dutch gaming industry. The graph on turnover indicates the lower and upper limits of the estimate: in 2021 turnover was between 420 and 440 million euros. For a more detailed breakdown of these figures, see Games Monitor from Dutch Game Garden. You can switch between the different graphs via the tabs above the figure.

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Source: Games Monitor

Those who want to become active in the Dutch gaming industry could attend 2021 courses in 23. In the year 2020, there were approximately 700 graduates. For both the number of courses and the number of graduates, we see a decrease in these years compared to 2018: at that time there were still 32 courses that were entirely focused on games and around 900 students graduated (Grisven et al. 2019; Dutch Game Garden 2022; Grinsven et al., 2024). Despite the decrease, these may seem high numbers compared to the number of workers. However, trained game developers also end up with their skills in many other places. Game courses, for example, have also become part of broader courses such as Software Development and Multimedia Design (Grinsven et al., 2024). Some of the graduates also go on to work abroad. 

Dutch game developers create their games for a global audience, which has been growing in size for years. In 2023, it was estimated that almost 3 billion people worldwide played video games and the gaming industry achieved a turnover of 184,0 billion dollars (Newzoo, 2024). In the Netherlands, 2022 million people played games in 9,6 (Dutch Game Garden 2022). 32 percent of Dutch households owned a game console in 2022 (Grinsven et al. 2019, Multiscope 2020, Uffelen et al. 2021, NMO Mediatrends 2022). The Leisure Omnibus (VTO) also shows that gaming is a popular form of leisure activity: in 2022, 52% of Dutch people aged 6 years and older said they had played games, 21% even played daily and 15% weekly. Dutch people mainly play games alone: ​​in 2022, 69% indicated that they would play alone. However, people also play with others via the internet (41% of respondents who game) and with or against others who are in the same room (36%). In addition to playing yourself, watching others play games – for example streamers, influencers or e-sports players – is also becoming increasingly popular. Globally, 2022 million people watched e-sports and 532 million watched gamers' livestreams in 920 (Newzoo, 2022). 

Global gaming industry revenue and number of players

Partly due to the corona pandemic, the turnover of the global gaming industry rose sharply in 2020 and 2021. Market researcher Newzoo expects this strong increase to be followed by a small decline in 2022, followed by further growth from 2023.

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Source: McDonald 2022, Newzoo 2021b, Newzoo 2022a

What else do we want to know about the Games domain?

Although diversity and inclusion are important themes in both the broader cultural sector and in the games industry, we still know relatively little about diversity in the Dutch games industry – apart from gender distribution. Measuring this is complex, but could help ensure that this can be monitored within the sector and that policy can be developed around this. 

Sustainability has also received increasing attention in the gaming industry in recent years. For example, there are various developments regarding sustainability in the development and consumption of games, and games can also play an important role in the awareness process (Henshall 2024). Also in the Netherlands, 32% of game developers paid attention to sustainability in the game development process (Dutch Game Garden 2024). However, more is not yet known about this in the Dutch context.  

Finally, a wish for the Culture Monitor as a whole is to make more connections in the future between the games industry and other domains within the cultural sector, which can, for example, look at the way in which domains are organized and the cultural and social impact that they have. they have. These insights can help domains learn from each other and ultimately strengthen each other. 

Want to know more about the Games domain?

View more data about the Games domain the dashboard of the Culture Monitor.

More literature on games can also be found in the knowledge base of the Boekman Foundation.

Read previous versions of this text again December 2020, November 2021, March 2022 en July 2022.

Literature

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Batchelor, J. (2023a) GamesIndustry.biz presents… The Year In Numbers 2023 . On: www.gamesindustry.biz, December 20. 

Batchelor, J. (2023b) European Parliament votes to take action against loot boxes, gaming addiction, gold farming and more | GamesIndustry.biz, 18 January.  

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Control (2023). A look behind the scenes of Wholesome Games community, www.control-online.nl, 16th of June.  

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Gestel, M. van (2020) 'How game technology is changing the film world'. On: www.volkskrant.nl, 5th of June. 

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Handy, K. (2023). Bridging the Gap Between Gaming and History: How Assassin's Creed Unity is Helping Rebuild Notre-Dame. On: www.artstation.com, March 12. 

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Hermus, S. (2021a) 'Society seeps into the gaming world'. In: NRC Handelsblad, May 8, 2021.

Hermus, S. (2021b) 'Game world is fed up with sexual harassment in the workplace: “We have to stop being shocked”'. On: www.volkskrant.nl, 29th of July.

IGDA (2019) Developer satisfaction survey 2019: summary report 2019. Toronto: International Game Developers Association.

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Keogh, B. & Abraham, B. (2024) Challenges and opportunities for collective action and unionization in local games industries, Organization, 31 (1), 27-48.  

Kocken, I. (2022) Precarity and diversity in the Dutch video game industry, Master thesis: Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication 

Legrand, R. and D. Dujardin (2022) 'Agreement on tax shelter for the gaming sector'. On: www.tijd.be, May 24.

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Maessen, L. (2020) '“A game is also culture” – the frustration of a forgotten sector'. On: www.nrc.nl, September 7nd.

Maessen, L. (2022a) 'The disruptive transition phase in which the gaming sector finds itself'. On: www.nrc.nl, February 4.

Maessen, L. (2022b) 'Increased popularity of games creates takeover fever'. On: www.nrc.nl, 19 August.

Maessen, L. (2022c) Gaming with reading glasses: older gamers are a growth market. On: www.nrc.nl, February 16 

Maessen, L. (2023a) The Dutch gaming industry is at a turning point, they think at the Indigo gaming conference. On: www.nrc.nl, 22th of June. 

Maessen, L. (2023b) Games are heritage, but how do you archive a game? "Should we buy Windows 98 PCs and keep them usable?" . On: www.nrc.nl, February 12. 

Maessen, L. (2023c) Microsoft can now really take over Activison Blizzard (Call of Duty and Candy Crush) and significantly strengthen its position in smartphone gaming. On: www.nrc.nl, October 13. 

Maessen, L. (2023d) Inclusivity is at the heart of 'The Sims'. On: www.nrc.nl, 28 March. 

McDonald, E. (2022) 'Newzoo's games market estimates and forecasts'. On: www.newzoo.com, November 17.

McWhertor, M. (2020) 'The Olympic opening ceremony was full of video game music'. On: www.polygon.com, 23th of July.

Multiscope (2020) 'Dutch people game for half a billion minutes every day'. On: www.multiscope.nl, February 13.

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Verantwoording beeld en tekst

Beeld: INDIGO 2018 / Foto via: Dutch Game Garden

Redactie: een eerdere versie van deze domeinpagina is geschreven door Bjorn Schrijen.