In the last couple of years, Czechia has become an attractive destination for businesses in the entertainment industry. Netflix, HBO, Amazon, are among those who have come to the country to make movies and serials. And talking about entertainment, games are looking like the next big thing. In recent years, 1C Publishing, Giants Software and Wargaming have opened offices in Czechia. But, unlike the movie business, local players such as Warhorse Studios have shown phenomenal results on the world stage with games like Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which sold more than one million copies within the first two weeks of it’s release.
The economic situation in Czechia makes it a hot destination for investors looking to invest in various start-up companies. Recent trends indicate that the gaming industry is experiencing a massive financial influx as the demand for game development companies and the market continues to grow. At the moment, more than 50 companies in Czechia are engaged in gamedev.
Czech Game Developers Association says, that more than 1500 people are engaged in the gaming business in Czechia.
Some of the reasons behind this trend can be attributed to how convenient it is to do business here — the social climate, logistics, access to funding, and low operating costs.
On the other hand — there has been a shrinking of available workforce in Czechia in recent years. The unemployment rate in the country is the lowest in the European Union at only 2.5%.
Companies have managed to save money that would have otherwise been spent on trying to find employees and relocating them to Czechia. Now it is almost impossible to imagine a large company without foreign employees, especially in the gaming industry. Start-up job portals have begun to appear in Czechia, helping find employees for smaller studios — larger companies are not allowed to advertise here.
For instance, Wargaming compensated for the lack of workers by employing specialists from neighboring countries — Slovakia, Germany, Poland and so on. In fact it helped them put together a team that had a diverse culture, different background experience and alternate points of view.
Big Companies in the Industry
The leaders of the game development scene that are helping drive growth in the entire industry are Warhorse Studio, Keen Software House, Madfinger Games, Bohemia Interactive and etc.
In 2018, Warhorse Studios was successful with the release of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Daniel Vavra, the Czech version of Hideo Kojima, worked on the game. Previously he managed to direct first two instalments of Mafia and then became the father of KCD. Contrary to, or due to his radical views, Vavra has become one of the most discussed game designers in the world in 2018.
Historically, it seems that the rise of Czechia in the gaming business stems from games that run counter the mainstream, such as Machinarium (Amanita Design), Mafia (2k Czech), and the aforementioned, Kingdom Come: Deliverance (Warhorse studios).
“Libertarians attracting technocrats” perhaps describes what is happening in Czechia. Members of the “Pirate Party” sit in the Senate, you can pay with Bitcoin almost anywhere, and in the center of Prague there is a 300m2 modular platform, offering tourists an immersive experience in the history of Czechia in VR.
With regard to VR, the name Jaroslav Beck probably doesn’t ring a bell, but his contributions to the industry are huge. A music composer from Czechia, he has collaborated with EA and Blizzard. In mid 2018, his company Beat Games reinvented Rockband in VR with the game Beat Saber, which became the 7th most highly rated games in Steam.
Collaboration across various industries
After working at Electronic Arts for several years, where I was involved in projects with games such as Warhammer Online and Star Wars the Old Republic, I continued my career in the Czech entertainment business. For a couple of years, I supervised production of films and commercials at “Three Brothers” film service. This was the time I met a lot of great people and helped a lot of young independent filmmakers build their careers. Moving further along my career path, I joined Universal Production Partners Prague as a new business developer to help drive the newly established Trailers & Cinematics division in 2018.
UPP is known for their CGI production in both films and commercials with notable projects such as Blade Runner, Wonder Woman as well as other mind-blowing commercials. Entering a new market is never easy, even for a titan like UPP, but a diversified CGI portfolio played right into our hands — right now we are in the process of finalizing negotiations with two AAA studios for projects that include not only CGI, but Motion Capture and 3D scanning, all of which we do on sight.
Czech universities also support the idea of taking the gaming industry to the next level. For instance, the Academy of Performing Arts, (AMU) Prague’s leading University Art School, plans to have a Master’s degree program from 2019. The program which will consist of both practical and theoretical learning in the concepts of game development will also require each student to develop their own game at the end of the program.
Technological vibe and the modern social climate have attracted innovative and younger IT professionals and Game Developers to Czechia. It is easy to see how such growth and innovation is fast turning this country into the centre of game development in Europe. This sentiment was echoed by local industry leaders at 4C and White Nights conferences in 2018 in Prague. With no signs of slowing down, one can only expect that Czechia will continue to build upon an increasing and flourishing community of Game Developers.