December 10, 2019

Gaming Industry Worth Between $50 and $100 Million: 5 Reasons to Invest In Serbian Gaming Companies

The gaming industry in Serbia fortified its position in March 2018, when Serbian Games Association (SGA) was founded by global gaming leaders that originated from the country. Today, the association published the first “Serbian Gaming Industry Report” containing significant metrics for foreign investors. 

The research method used to gather data for the Report was a questionnaire filled by over 60 SGA members. The method gives a representative and a well rounded overview of the industry for investors, as it includes large corporations (Nordeus with flagship game Top Eleven, played by over 200 million people worldwide) and indie gaming studios (Demagog Studio that received a $0.5 million investment for storytelling conceptual video game aimed at niche market). Last year’s (2018) industry revenue was estimated at somewhere between $50 million and $100 million. This report is not conclusive and it is expected to gain in detail and structure with every iteration. 

The Report lists several reasons why investing in Serbian gaming companies is a great idea, corroborated by very actionable metrics. 

1. Serbia is the Top Gaming Ecosystem to watch out for. 
This year’s edition of the global startup report by Startup Genome underlined Serbia as the place to watch out for in the next period. The ecosystem is seeing particularly noteworthy success in Gaming and Blockchain technology. As a high-growth ecosystem, Belgrade and Novi Sad have a Funding Growth Index of  10 and an Output Growth Index of 9. 

2. Used to bootstrapping the way to the top. Organic growth. 
Serbia is home to an estimated 70+ studios and companies. The vast majority of them, including the globally successful ones, had no starting capital and bootstrapped all the way to the top. Despite the unprecedented growth of the sector, most of it has continued to be organic. Even in 2018, the majority of the raised capital is sourced from friends and family.

3. Untapped potential for investors, as 60% of interviewees are looking for investors. 
Around 60% of the companies interviewed for this report stated they are seeking capital investment in 2019 to enable faster growth and development. Over 30% estimate they need an investment ranging from $117,920 to $589,590 (€ 100,000 to €500,000). Two-thirds are looking to raise pre-seed money, below $ 589,780 (€500,000), while the rest are pursuing a seed round, up to $5.9 million (€ 5 million). The average investment raised is $234,730 (€199.000), but the single largest investment in 2018 is $766,710 (€650,000). Business angels funded around 40% of gaming companies, 30% of crowdfunding and 20% of VC funds . 

4. Government introduced tax incentives in 2019. A great surge of investments and acquisitions followed. 
The scene is set to change as the government introduced tax incentives in 2019, where tech startups, including gaming ones, can pay almost no corporate income tax thanks to the generous programs and incentives. Tech startups enjoy accelerated R&D reduction (2x) and IP Box (3%) tax regimes. As a result of these incentives, there is a surge of interest among domestic and international investors in Serbian gaming studios. In the first half of 2019, we already had major acquisitions, including Epic Games acquiring 3Lateral, a Novi Sad based studio with 100+ employees. These giants from the video games industry have joined Ubisoft, who opened a studio in Belgrade 3 years ago and already has well over a hundred employees.

5. Engineering talent fortified by high quality systematic (free) education.
Serbia is in the top 5 ecosystems for affordable talent, with access to high-quality engineering talent. There are an estimated 1,500 people employed in the video games sector in Serbia. The workforce is diverse and is expected to grow as more than half of the companies are looking to expand in 2019. However, despite the diversity, Serbia is most known for its highly skilled engineers and programmers. Besides the existing professionals, there are currently 30,000 university students in Mathematics, IT and Computing, and 10,000 more high school students learning about Mechanics and Electronics across Serbia. Thanks to the collaboration of the Petlja foundation and the Government, Serbia is one of the very few countries in the world where computer science and programming is taught in primary school, starting in the fifth grade. With plans to introduce programming as early as the first grade in the near future, Serbia is ensuring it will remain highly ranked on the global map of talented engineers for the foreseeable future. 

Read the full “Serbian Gaming Industry Report 2018” here

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