22nd of February 2024

At the beginning of February, EGDF organized a call with its members to map the state of the European games industry in 2024. The call focused on overcoming current difficult times, please find below EGDF president Hendrik Lesser’s summary of the discussions. 


As we all know, the European game industry grew a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the years since, the growth has slowed down and perhaps even stagnated or declined. From an outsider’s perspective, it might look like not much has changed, but that could not be further away from the truth.  

Let’s first discuss the challenges many of us are facing at the moment.

Brace yourself, 2024 is going to hurt

Game markets are becoming increasingly saturated. On many platforms, the same number of new games are published in a day as were published in a year ten years ago. Although there were big winners in 2023, we also saw some high profile failures and many studios that struggled to survive in silence. Success seems to be polarizing again, squeezing the middle of the market. 

Many games that were funded years ago have not been able to meet publisher and investor expectations. Studios across the board are struggling to find and maintain work-for-hire contracts, co-dev arrangements and publishing deals – self funded devs and smaller publishers are hurting as platform exclusivity deals dry up. 

The promises of NFTs and cryptocurrencies did not materialize. Web3 is clearly not the next big thing just yet. Whilst it may come, there’s little solid foundation to build a business on at the moment . 

The challenges European companies face in mobile game markets are also sky-high after the restrictions gatekeeper platforms have set around access to data. The Digital Markets Act was supposed to open walled mobile market gardens for competition, but gatekeeper platforms are introducing new barriers to market access, with the situation looking difficult for the foreseeable future.

Some years ago, we had hoped that subscription platforms would offer new revenue streams. We all heard the stories of success – this structure empowered the creation of some great games:  But those times are over. Big IPs still work, but small indie IPs are having to work harder and harder at the community level to stand any chance of success..

Private risk investment in game development has gone down. There is still money in the game industry ecosystem in the hands of VCs and PEs, but now many prefer to invest  in already profitable studios. Very few game developers are able to build a profitable studio before securing investment for growth. Again, the days of easy access to private risk funding are over. 

In many EU member states, public funding is under scrutiny as difficult times have led to budget cuts. The easy days of building public support instruments are over. 

For quite a long time, the interest rates were so low that loan funding was almost free. Those times are over. Before, you were able to secure single-digit interest rates for corporate loans. Now they can easily be double digits. 

Those who are able to build profitable businesses are struggling to scale up. For a moment, it looked like IPOs were a dependable long term route to growth, but those days are over. 

It is thus not a surprise that the runway is ending for many independent game developer studios and boutique publishers, and many are closing down. At the same time, there are many European companies that were acquired before the crisis which have also closed down as global game industry giants cut their expenses. As more studios are shuttered, more of those studios that worked as their subcontractors, service companies or co-developers will struggle. 

Many companies are laying off people because they must. Some companies are laying off people as an overreaction to the hard times. Many local game developer communities and even countries are losing game industry talent as people fail to find new jobs. 

On top of all this – the wider political world is showing increasing signs of instability. Not only are economies struggling, diplomatic processes are failing, and conflict continues to kill thousands. Leaders are beginning to talk about being on a pre-war footing. Wider conflict in Europe and the Middle East is an increasingly realistic proposition. 

But there are many reasons why Europe is the place to be during these difficult times.

Europe is the place to be during difficult times

2023 was a shitty year. 2024 will probably be even more shittier. After the hyper-growth during a pandemic, this is just a return to more normal pre-pandemic growth. Games have been and will continue to be a global megatrend and the cultural technique of this century. Sooner or later, we will overcome this as an industry. 

The European game industry is and continues to be the industry of new opportunities. We must help the industry exploit the disruptions. Despite the gatekeeper platform’s efforts to hinder it, Digital Market Access is likely to lead to the launch of highly effective new mobile and cross-platform distribution channels. The EGDF is here to ensure that the Commission does not let gatekeeper platforms stop European game developer studios from exploring their new rights.  At the same time new opportunities are still brewing in Web3, VR/AR, and even some aspects of the metaverse. We should remain open to opportunity.

The global game industry is returning on the growth track. But we must also help the European industry to reach new markets. The game industry is no longer EU and USA-centric. Games are a truly global medium, and you can still distribute the games with one click across the growing Asian and African markets – markets we should be engaging with as partners. This is a huge opportunity for us, and many EGDF member associations are now planning trade missions, especially to Asia. Working with emerging markets is going to be crucial for the future of the European industry.

Many European game developer studios are in better shape than ever to get through the difficult times. Many European companies are struggling, but some are also rebuilding or making money and growing.  More than usual European companies were acquired before the crisis and now have much stronger shoulders to get through the difficult times. European studios that closed major investments or public support deals at just the right time are now able to survive through the difficult times with that security. 

Europe has one of the biggest and the best game industry talent pools globally. It has not been this easy to access senior top game industry talent in decades. It has not been this easy for the game industry to recruit talent from other sectors for years. Now that the talent shortage which hindered the growth of the industry is losing its grip, those who can are recruiting as much and as quickly as they can. 

Europe has one of the strongest and widest professional game education frameworks in the world – we must ensure that it is also one of the best ones. We must also find ways to support junior talent entering the game industry. Many EGDF member associations are already collaborating closely with professional game education organizers. Furthermore, they are encouraging game developer studios to widen their internship programs and increase the flow of talent into the industry. 

Europe is one of the most attractive locations for game industry talent. European cities like Berlin and Barcelona are still among the most attractive locations for game industry talent. Lithuania, Poland and Czechia are still growing because of all the great game industry talent that has relocated there since the war in Ukraine started. 

Europe is a golden opportunity for global game industry investors to find highly promising companies with access to the talent needed for growth. Many EGDF member associations are organizing trade missions across the globe, next to GDC in San Francisco, to help European game developers meet the investors. And we are lucky to have Gamescom, one of the leading global B2B game industry events in Europe. Investment from outside Europe may not always align with your company values, but due diligence can quickly separate the good money from the bad. 

European investors might be hesitant to invest, but they have more money than before. We must work to help investors to find the best investment targets in Europe and build public support instruments to reduce the risk of making these high-risk investments. We must ensure that game developers understand the changes in investor preferences. They want to see profits. They want to see something completely novel. Luckily, many EGDF member associations have decades of experience in facilitating investor relations. 

Europe is home to some of the best public funding instruments in the world, and it is now helping many highly promising companies grow. But we do need more, and better public funding. EGDF and EGDF member associations are actively lobbying to make them even bigger and more impactful. 

Difficult times make the best entrepreneurs.  We must find ways to support those who are launching new start-ups during these difficult times. Difficult times make the best entrepreneurs. The next waves of start-ups are already rising from the ruins of closed-down studios. The EGDF and EGDF member associations are actively lobbying for new incubator and accelerator programs to assist here. 

We must continue our support for the Ukrainian game industry, which is struggling more than any other game developer community. EGDF and its member associations have not forgotten our Ukrainian friends who are fighting for our future. 

We need a more strategic approach to building digital growth and jobs in Europe. The European Union needs its own strategy for the video game industry. Member states need their own growth strategies for their game industries. EGDF and many of its member associations are already updating their own strategies to prepare for and assist this. 

To sum it up, this year we must:

  • Focus on supporting students and start-ups
  • Focus on securing access to public funding 
  • Focus on facilitating access to private funding and co-development deals  
  • Focus on building a strategic approach to growth 

We will keep calm and carry on. We will help each other. We will build the road for growth and success. We will ask difficult questions and stand up when someone tries to use these difficult times to weaken our position in the value chain. Regardless if we have to stand up against key game engine developers, main gatekeeper distribution platforms or the big European telcos. We will be the clear and loud voice of the European industry. 

Are you a publisher or developer, it does not matter as long as you are making games. We are the ones who will get this shit together. 

We will not just survive, we will grow and prosper. 

Hendrik Lesser – EGDF President 


Contact for EGDF:

Jari-Pekka Kaleva, tel: +358 40 716 3640
Managing Director, European Games Developer Federation (EGDF)
Senior Policy Analyst, Neogames Finland ry.
Email: jari-pekka.kaleva@egdf.eu

Twitter: @jpkaleva