In 2020 there were major differences between Dutch game companies, depending on the market in which they operate. Many companies targeting consumers were able to benefit from the global growth of the games market during the pandemic. On the other hand, many business-to-business companies had a difficult time, according to research by Dutch Game Garden and the Dutch Games Association.

The global games industry was one of the sectors that benefitted from the fact that everyone had to stay at home and all kinds of activities were closed. Games were a welcome distraction for many people, especially for playing together from a distance. The introduction of a new generation of consoles also led to a growth in sales. Many companies were already positive about the expectations for 2020. 40% of the respondents who focus on entertainment games realized an even higher growth than expected.

On the other hand, many business-to-business companies struggled when the first lockdowns took effect in the spring of 2020. Third-party assignments were paused or even canceled due to the great uncertainty. After the lockdowns were lifted, some companies recovered quickly, others were still struggling at the end of the year. Serious game companies, for example, were very dependent on the sector in which they operate.

The lack of physical events made it more difficult for some companies to test, promote or pitch their game to investors or publishers. Many companies have managed to adapt to the circumstances. Working from home was quickly arranged by a lot of companies. The quality of the work has not suffered from working from home in three-quarters of the companies. There are challenges because of the lack of physical encounters, both for the staff and especially with business contacts.

“We hear from game company management that the creative and conceptual process online is more difficult. Applied (or serious) game companies especially, indicated in the survey that they experienced a negative impact on creativity. The freedom of a brainstorming session in a physical space with a small group of people often produces surprising concepts that are more difficult to find in an online meeting”, concludes Christel van Grinsven of Dutch Game Garden.

Derk de Geus, owner of Paladin Studios and chairman of the Dutch Games Association: “Finding new business contacts online is particularly difficult, the effects of this will sometimes only become apparent in the long term. In the past year, many companies have relied on their existing trusted relationships.”

Dutch Game Garden, in collaboration with the Dutch Games Association, investigated how the Dutch games industry fared in 2020. The results of the research are based on a survey among more than 100 Dutch game developers, desk research, and discussions with representatives from the industry. The report can be downloaded on our Games Monitor page.

For the Dutch game industry as a whole, we can conclude that there has been growth since the last edition of the Games Monitor report from 2018. In the past 2 years, the sector has grown to more than 600 companies and approximately 4000 jobs.

Previous publications of the Games Monitor provided insight into the number of companies, employment opportunities, and revenue of the Dutch games industry in 2012, 2015, and 2018. In the fall of 2021, Dutch Game Garden will start the research for the Games Monitor 2021, which will be published in 2022.