The success story of video games is waiting to be continued by new creators

Marianna Krjakvina, Head of Computer Games Design and Development at the Estonian School of Business Mainor, and third-year students Laura Priskus and Rasmus Lepp.Photo: Mai Kroonmäe

The total value of the video game market is estimated at $ 150-250 billion this year. Thus, this field outperforms all other forms of entertainment in terms of interest to investors.

In 2021, more than $ 70 billion in new capital has already been invested in computer game companies, several new unicorns have appeared and the demand for professionals is growing. New regional ecosystems are emerging. For example, in a couple of years, Istanbul became an attraction for investment and talent – in a short time, two game manufacturers were estimated to be worth a billion, and in addition to them there are a couple of companies with a capital of “only” tens or hundreds of millions. The concentration of capital in the region leads to the growth of business and the demand for top specialists.

Estonia can also boast of its progress in the field of computer games. The game “Disco Elysium” (2019) created by the studio ZA / UM has so far earned almost 30-40 million euros on the Stream platform. This game, with its distinctive style and bold plot, won several awards in 2020, including the prestigious British Film Academy’s BAFTA Best Screenplay and Sound and Music award. Also the best newcomer award. The user rating is 97%, which puts the game in the same line with cult and high-budget game hits like “Red Dead Redemption 2” and “GTA V”.

Of course, one example of a global success story is not enough for a well-functioning industry. Business success should also be possible for relatively small teams. In February last year, the game “Death and Taxes” created by the Tartu team Placeholder Gameworks was released. This is a great example of a successful game, developed by only 5-6 people, that has found its way into the hearts of players and earned a good return.

Estonia’s largest gaming studio Creative Mobile, which has long been known for its “Drag Racing” and “Nitro Nation” mobile racing games (these games have more than half a million players in total), delighted us in the summer of 2020 with the innovative indie project “Into the Radius”. It is played in virtual reality, which gives the player a full feeling of being inside and the opportunity to interact with their hands and body. The plot of the game “Into the Radius” is inspired by Boris and Arkady Strugatski’s work “Departure to the Green” and the cult game series “STALKER”. The player finds himself in a dangerous and mystical area and hunts down the artifacts and treasures of the exclusion zone around an unknown anomaly. After a slow start, the game reached the top ten among virtual reality games and earns almost half a million euros a quarter on the Stream platform. Last week, Creative Mobile Studio became one of the 25 best technology companies in Estonia and its value is estimated at 58 million euros (https://top101.ee/index.php/tech).

Virtual reality is quite popular among Estonian game developers. With the introduction of more affordable devices such as the Oculus Quest 2, the number of potential players will also increase. Until 4-5 years ago, virtual reality was almost inaccessible to a wider audience due to expensive equipment and lack of content. Now the situation has changed and virtual reality is a new and interesting market for game developers.

However, virtual reality as an innovation platform is of interest to others, not just game developers. Tartu start-up Futuruum is developing the Futuclass application for Oculus Quest 2. The application allows school students to study chemical reactions and the construction of molecules through interactive learning in a virtual reality environment. The technology has already been tested in a couple of Tartu schools and the results are excellent. Based on the results of the tests, it can be said that after playing for a few hours, the knowledge of the substance improved by 62%!

In addition to the above, other interesting game projects are being developed in Estonia. Every year, more and more companies emerge and new computer games are created. The growing interest in the computer game industry is also increasing the demand for professionals.

As the creation of games is a rather complex creative and technological process, professionals from several fields are involved. Among them are programmers, graphic designers, level designers, testers, marketing specialists, game producers. While programming and graphic design are disciplines that have long existed in the job market, computer game design is a relatively new trend.

The development of any game starts with the development of game design. A computer game designer must have knowledge of all user and product interactions, as well as extensive knowledge of the technological base, the economics and statistics of computer games, and the psychology of players. The designer of the game process is like a conductor who conducts an orchestra of technology and art.

At the Estonian Private School of Entrepreneurship, the largest private university in Estonia, Mainor has been preparing computer game design and development specialists for five years. The course program covers the basics of programming, the basics of graphic design, the basics of level design, and the basics of business and marketing. After completing the three-year curriculum, students receive a bachelor’s degree in computer game design. In the future, alumni will have the opportunity to continue their studies at Tallinn University’s master’s program or at Finnish and Swedish universities.

Many students and alumni of the Estonian Business School Mainor already work in the aforementioned large Estonian studios Creative Mobile and Placeholder Gameworks, as well as other computer game developers.


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