BIU.Dev – connecting the German games industry
The network platform BIU.Dev and BIU.Net has been actively supporting the German games industry for two years and is a premium partner of QUO VADIS once again in 2017. As the developers’ conference gets under way, the team behind the network talks about their international projects, new nationwide incentives and the extensive services available to network members.
You want to establish better links within the German games industry with your nationwide network platform BIU.Dev and BIU.Net. What does that mean in practice and what have you achieved in the two years since it was established?
Thorsten Hamdorf: We launched our network platform BIU.Dev and BIU.Net two years ago to forge closer links within the industry and strengthen Germany as a games hub in the long term. Since then, we have added more than 120 members to our network. We see this as fantastic confirmation of what we are doing and proof that we are offering a useful service. Our round tables and workshops for professionals meet with a very good response from the industry, for example. We are also working closely with the gamescom Indie Arena Booth to support independent up-and-coming developers. Network members also relish the opportunity to join task forces and play a part in political measures, which they like to get involved in. In other words, we are extremely pleased with how things have developed.
And how do you help teams of German developers to gain a footing internationally?
Thorsten Hamdorf: Since our network was established, we have regularly spoken to partners, government organisations and event organisers to enable us to offer our members quantifiable advantages and to support them when they attend international events. For example, we managed to secure a better deal for German exhibitors at Game Connection America, create added value and enable them to exhibit together in a ‘made in Germany’ area. In conjunction with the Goethe-Institut Boston and the Cologne Game Lab, we also succeeded in taking eight teams of developers from Germany to PAX East. By entering into partnerships like this, we offer German games companies new opportunities to present themselves internationally and establish important contacts. We also offer a large number of similar special rates with a view to enabling more companies to attend important events, such as worldwide conferences and exhibitions like QUO VADIS, Nordic Game, GDC, devcom and Pocket Gamer Connects.
What else do you offer to support the industry?
Stephanie Lang: There is our BIU Academy, for example, which offers developers, founders and anyone else who is interested a series of practical, interactive live webinars. This allows them to enhance their knowledge of all the relevant issues to do with developing and marketing digital games, wherever they are. In the webinars, experts from the games industry talk about key aspects such as game design, business models, internationalisation and legal issues. They also answer questions. We support the industry with our ProTalent initiative, too. This brings the games industry into closer contact with universities so that they can discuss the need for skilled professionals and the associated requirements.
You are calling for a better system of incentives for the German games industry. What exactly do you propose?
Stephanie Lang: Here in Germany, we have a very lively and diverse development scene with lots of creative ideas. However, developing computer and video games in Germany is becoming an ever-greater challenge – especially in the face of international competition – due to difficult underlying conditions, particularly when it comes to finance. That is why we are calling for a substantial comprehensive package of incentives for the games industry based on three pillars: the tax-based model we presented last November, an increase in individual grants and awards, and greater non-material support. Philip Thiele of Osborne Clarke and I will also present our three-pillar incentives concept at QUO VADIS at 1 p.m. on the Monday of the event. The Managing Director of the BIU, Felix Falk, will answer additional questions about the concept in the subsequent panel discussion.
You established the eSports.BIU association last year. What progress has the association made to date?
Gregory Wintgens: We established eSports.BIU in the middle of last year in response to a wish held by many of our members for us to step up our activities in the field of eSports. Since then, we have received unanimously positive reactions to the new association. Together with our members, we are working on making eSports.BIU the central discussion platform. We are bringing together more and more key eSports stakeholders from Germany. Our overarching aim is to help improve the eSports structures in Germany so as to contribute towards their sustainable development. In conjunction with Deloitte, we also published a study on the eSports market in Germany in late 2016. This was picked up by a large number of media outlets and showed many games industry outsiders the huge potential which eSports have for Germany.
What new services have you added to your portfolio?
Gregory Wintgens: We have added to our service portfolio repeatedly over the last few weeks and months. In February, for example, we presented our publication ‘A Guide to the German Games Industry’ profiling Germany as a games hub. This English-language publication provides a comprehensive overview of the games hotspot and encourages readers to invest and place orders in Germany. It is aimed at international investors and games companies who are seeking to open or expand subsidiaries in Germany and looking for partners, or those who could award production contracts to German developers. The publication gives German games companies an international stage.
With our new booth concept, the BIU & Friends Business Booth in the business area, we are also offering all interested parties from the games industry an additional opportunity to take part in gamescom. This is aimed at anyone who may not yet be involved in a national booth or who has not yet been able to find a suitable option for themselves. In addition to the above-mentioned event reductions, we have succeeded in negotiating discounts for our members with hotels, car rental companies, law firms and other service providers. This means that network membership fees quickly pay for themselves and enable our members to save money as well.