IIDEA, the Italian Interactive Digital Entertainment Association, reports a 26% growth in the number of active game developers in the country compared to 2018 data.
IIDEA and IDG Consulting conducted a quantitative survey and a qualitative analysis of the Italian game industry. The quantitative survey was conducted online, and 160 respondents took part in it from February 24 to April 1, 2021. This number includes big game developers, smaller independent companies, and individual game developers from all over Italy. This is 26% more than in 2018, despite the heavy COVID impact on the Italian economy in 2020.
Close to the Sun by Storm in a Teacup
According to the data IIDEA presented during the fifth biennial census of Italian game developers, there are 16.7 million gamers in Italy, which is more than a third (38%) of the total population of the country (62.3 million people). On average, Italians spend 8 hours a week playing games. The Italian games market was up 21.9% in 2020, with a turnover of a whopping €2.179 billion ($2.67 billion). 82% of that came from software (€1.784 billion), 18% came from hardware sales (€395 million), thanks to the release of the latest consoles. The top-5 games in Italy were FIFA 21, Grand Theft Auto V, FIFA 20, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and The Last of Us Part II.
On to the main figures of the day — game developer statistics in Italy. There are about 160 game development companies and informal teams with a total of over 1,600 people employed in the gaming sector. The number of people employed in the game development sector has grown by 45% since 2018.
Most of the developers (73%) have been up and running for at least 4 years (compared to 51% in 2018). 38% of firms have been operating for 7 years or more. The number of game developers with revenue over €500.000 also grew and is now 26% compared to 17% in 2018. About a third of Italian gaming firms have over 10 employees though most of the companies have 6 to 10 employees (26%). IIDEA notes that there has been an increase in the number of big companies with over 20 employees (19% vs 12% in 2018).
There are many young professionals in game development in Italy, as about 79% of employees are less than 36 years old. 30% of all Italians in game development are specialized in Art and work as 3D Artists, Concept Artist, Art Directors, Animators, etc. The next most popular position is in Technology with around 25% of people working as Programmers, Technical Directors, etc.
According to the report, during 2019 and 2020, 35% of respondents hired new employees. About 76% of respondents have initiated collaborations in the past 2 years. Again, the highest-demand areas were Art and Technology with around 77% of hirings and collaborations being Art-related and 54% being Technology-related. Italian game developers plan to recruit new employees and start more collaborations in 2021 and 2022, and 75% of them stated their interest in the Technology sphere.
When it comes to financing, most firms self-finance through owned capital (93% of respondents). However, as IIDEA notes, there is a growing interest in Italian game developers, as there has been an increase in the amount of financial support from publishers (28% vs 21% in 2018) and banking institutions (18% vs 6% in 2018). Public funding absolutely skyrocketed compared to the 2018 data growing from 6% to 24%.
Speaking of the genres Italian game developers specialize in, most of them produce Action/Adventure games (44%), Arcades (25%), and Puzzles (21%). Only 6% of the developers' revenue comes from the Italian market, meaning that Italian games are a big success abroad with 94% of the purchases being made outside Italy. The main market for Italian game developers is Europe (54% without Italy itself), followed by North America (25%) and Asia (7%). 71% of respondents are planning to expand their business in Asia in 2021 and 2022.
Geography-wise, Italy's leaders in game development are Lazio, Lombardy, and Emilia-Romagna. Lombardy's biggest game developers include Milestone, Raceward Studio, Reply Game Studios, and Ubisoft Milan. Invader Studios, Kunos Simulazioni, One O One Games, and Storm in a Teacup are based in Lazio. The biggest studios present in Emilia- Romagna are DESTINYbit, IV Productions, Just Funny Games, Melazeta, and Studio Evil.
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As IIDEA reports, 46% of respondents stated they believe Italy has become a more attractive business location for the video games industry. Italian game development studios are planning to attract, motivate but most importantly to bring up world-class game developers in their studios.