Gaming industry in the Western Balkans

Could the gaming industry become one of the important drivers of economic development in the Western Balkans? Considering some of the biggest success stories in Serbia, the answer could actually be ‘yes’.

Serbia’s gaming industry is rapidly developing for a good reason.

The total of 2.7 billion gamers around the world will spend massive $159.3 billion on games by the end of 2020, an enormous increase from $70.6 billion in 2012.

The global gaming market was estimated at around $152 billion at the end of 2019, while mobile games’ market only was worth $68.5 billion.

Two powerful trends will chart the future of gaming and open enormous space for a boost of mobile gaming: upgrades in cloud services and 5G.

With 5G becoming a norm, gamers will reach a whole new high-quality experience thanks to fast network connections and low latency.

Some experts claim that the global mobile gaming market will soar to $76.7 billion in 2020, while the entire gaming industry will be worth more than $200b by 2023 or even surpass the $250 billion mark.

The most advanced gaming industry ecosystem in the Western Balkans we find in Serbia.

Gaming industry in Serbia

Two reasons explain the sharp rise in Serbia’s gaming industry market.

First, it is one of the fastest-growing industries in Serbia in general, employing more than 1.500 highly skilled individuals and cashing up to $100 million per year in revenues.

Last year only Serbian gaming companies developed and launched 70 games.

It comes as no surprise that over four-fifths of companies are optimistic about the gaming industry in Serbia.

Second, Serbia’s gaming companies have established strong institutional presence domestically, but also internationally.

The Serbian Games Association (SGA) recently joined the European Game Developers Federation (EGDF). SGA is the only representative of the gaming industry from the Western Balkans.

The importance of gaming is also acknowledged by public-owned universities that launched first master’s degrees in gaming. The Belgrade’s University of Arts and Faculty of Mathematics offers the first generation of students opportunities to study arts and video games design, while the University of Kragujevac offers a course in computer games development.

Many Serbian SMEs focusing on gaming products have proven as innovation leaders. This is exactly what the region needs more of to ensure sustainable economic development.

Gaming leaders

Serbia’s Nordeus game developing company – established in 2010 by three friends Branko Milutinovic, Ivan Stojisavljevic & Milan Jovovic.

Nordeus is best known for its Top Eleven football game. In May 2020 they topped 220 million downloads and celebrated a seven-year partnership with one of the most famous football coaches José Mourinho.

Nordeus - Gaming Industry in the Western BalkansApart from this, Nordeus has also launched a number of games including pretty popular Golden BootHeroic and Magic Duel.

Yet, this is just a tip of the gaming industry iceberg in Serbia.

Another major success story in Serbia’s gaming industry is 3lateral that was acquired by Epic Games (best known as the creator of Fortnite) in January 2019.

As a result of this strategic move, 3Lateral significantly increased investments in their team’s efforts towards pushing the technological boundaries further.

Gaming industry 3Lateral

3Lateral’s focus is custom made tools for video games, animated entertainment, and enterprise applications.

3Lateral acquired a piece of land worth 7.7m EUR in the centre of Novi Sad that will become their new HQ. More importantly, it will become a regional hub for developing advanced digital humans technologies.

Something similar already exists 50 km down south where Nordeus Hub offers a free co-working space for the gaming industry.

Mad Head Games is another rapidly expanding game studio. It was established by Nenad Tomic, Aleksa Todorovic and Uros Banjesevic in 2011 and now boasts 130 staff strong with offices in Belgrade and Novi Sad.

Gamind industry Mad Head Games

They are primarily known as industry leaders in the casual adventure games genre. More recently they entered the AAA gaming market.

Their innovative approach has earned them global reach and stable success trajectory since their early days. The most important move for Mad Head Games is a partnership with Wargaming that translated to RPG Pagan Online.

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