The Ukrainian game industry needs European support
The games industry represents one of Europe’s most compelling economic success stories. Located at the crossroads of the ICT and cultural industries, the game industry is one of the rapidly growing segments of the cultural and creative industries. In 2021, there were around 5 500 game developer studios and publishers in the EU, employing over 85 000 people and running a combined turnover of over €18,3bn. In 2022, Europe’s video games market was worth €24,5bn, and the industry has registered a growth rate of 5% in key European markets. The European digital single market is the third-largest video game market globally.
Ukraine has been, is, and will be an important and essential part of Europe and European game culture. Before Putin’s war, we celebrated a boom of local Ukrainian game developer studios building their own highly successful Ukranian games. Furthermore, Ukrainian game developers played a crucial role in helping to shape the European games industry, and there isn’t almost any European game developer community without Ukrainian members. As a growth-oriented digital cultural industry, the video game industry can play a significant role in rebuilding Ukraine by attracting private investment in the country, generating economic growth, creating new jobs and attracting both the Ukrainian diaspora and the leading global talent back to Ukraine.
The rebuilding of the Ukrainian game industry must have begun already during the war. Until the war is over, the focus of the Ukrainian government will be rightfully on ensuring victory over Russian forces and securing the safety of their citizens. Consequently, EGDF calls for, beyond European support for the Ukrainian military, European support for local civil society and industry groups inside Ukraine. Only by supporting grassroots communities, like the game developer community, and their cooperation with their European counterparts, the governmental and non-governmental actors in the European Union are able to help Ukraine to start taking the first steps in rebuilding the country and securing its integration in the EU. The games industry must be clearly included in the scope of the activities supported under the EU’s EUR 50B Ukraine Facility and Recovery Fund. Furthermore, the Ukrainian game industry needs a prudent and smart development strategy for the upcoming difficult years, ensuring that local, national and international initiatives to support the industry are well coordinated.
EGDF calls the Ukrainian government and its international partners to urgently focus on the following themes:
- Stable society: The Ukrainian government must continue its efforts to build a stable democratic society where fundamental human rights are respected.
- Reliable electricity and network infrastructure: The Ukrainian government should continue its heroic efforts to keep its electricity and network infrastructure up and running during the war
- Reliable monetary system: The Ukrainian government and, in particular, its international partners should solve the current problems on bank transfers to Ukraine due to rightful sanctions against Russia.
- Rule of law: The Ukrainian government must continue its efforts to strengthen the rule of law and to fight corruption.
- Building local game dev communities: The Ukrainian government, together with its international partners, must support local game developer communities, events and initiatives in building well-working peer-support groups for knowledge sharing and to secure the access of Ukrainian game dev communities to the key global game industry knowledge sharing forums like the leading international game industry conferences and trade fairs.
- Allowing members of the military reserve to join international gamedev events: The Ukrainian government should consider simplifying the procedure for obtaining temporary travel permission for the military reserve to visit industry events outside Ukraine.
- Access to private funding and trade missions: The Ukrainian government, together with its international partners, should build a support structure to attract foreign investment in the country and encourage successful game entrepreneurs to build local venture capital funds investing in game development. The Ukrainian government and its international partners must support trade missions to key regional game industry cents (e.g. Gamescom in the EU, Pocket Gamer Connects in the UK, GDC in the USA and G-star in South Korea and Tokyo Game Show in Japan)
- Access to funding supporting artistic excellence: The Ukrainian government, together with its international partners, should build a dedicated public funding instrument for the creation of game prototypes that enable artistic risk-taking and that can be used for pitching private equity funding or publisher funding for game developer studios
- Access to funding supporting SMEs: The Ukrainian government, together with its international partners, should introduce SME support instruments that enable entrepreneurial risk-taking, launching and running a new game business (e.g. business skills and business ethics) and supporting game industry-focused accelerators and incubators.
Read the full EGDF approach to rebuilding Ukraine from here with urgent, short-run and long-run policy goals: https://www.egdf.eu/documentation/3-enabling-digital-growth-with-public-funding/rebuilding-ukraine-2023/
EGDF is thankful for all the feedback it has received so far for drafting these goals and welcomes all further feedback, in particular from game developers in Ukraine, on how to improve its approach to rebuilding Ukraine.
For more information, please contact:
Jari-Pekka Kaleva, tel: +358 40 716 3640
Managing Director, European Games Developer Federation (EGDF)