ad2games went to Krakow from May 8 – 9th for Digital Dragons 2014. Digital Dragons took place at at ‘Stara Zajezdnia’, the “Old Depot” located in Kazimierz, a historical district of Krakow. This spacious post-industrial location was the place where most of the well-prepared conference rooms could be found. Some of the lectures took place in the Museum of Municipal Engineering, located across the street. Also, not many conference locations include a local brewery – this one does!
The State of the Polish Games Industry
Digital Dragons is partially government funded and the Polish Ministry of Economy was present at the event with their own booth. The ministry is currently very active in the gaming industry and seems eager to invest heavily in the development of the Polish gaming market. To illustrate the current state of the local industry, here are a few key points regarding the Polish market from a report the ministry published last year.
- The size of the Polish market for video games was estimated at 350-450 million USD in 2012 with strong growth predicted.
- Game studios have emerged in all big Polish cities.
- Global companies, like Epic Games, decided to invest in Poland, recognizing the country’s intellectual capital and skills of Polish university graduates.
- In recent years, the Polish games industry started to seize opportunities on the global market, producing games dedicated for players from all over the world and targeting the online, mobile, social and casual sectors.
This positive development was also reflected at Digital Dragons with all of the most important local players attending; game developers and media companies alike.
Alongside strong organization it is safe to say that this will continue to be the most important games event in Poland. The organizers made sure that everything is available in English as a lot of foreign companies also attended the event. This was another factor that is worth mentioning as a strong local focus had always been an issue with prior events in Poland.
Digital Dragons looks to attract the biggest international players as well as small independent studios. Indie games were a big topic. The main hall of the convention had an indie showcase in the center where dozens of developers presented their games and gave visitors the opportunity to try them. Around this were the larger booths. The indie showcase included a contest that was awarded to games such as Timberman (Mobile) and Top Hat (PC). Warlocks, by the same studio is another title that stood out: a gory 2D action sidescroller with colourful pixel graphics and interesting sceneries. Pixel art was a clear trend among the indie games. Besides hardcore titles we had the pleasure of meeting Alawar studio, famous for hundreds of fancy social games, and World-Loom, who were presenting their time-management game Gardens Inc. (which made us to stop at their stand for half an hour despite busy conference times and deservedly won the “Community Award”).
The international aspect of the event could also be seen in the line-up of speakers that included, for instance, Witcher creators CD Projekt RED and Ubisoft Shanghai.
Of course free-to-play and monetization were also prominent topics. Grazyna Domanska from Kobojo discussed “Data driven monetization and feature design”, highlighting the importance of strong data-analysis mechanisms and looking at the “big picture”. Michał Bobrowski (GRY-OnLine), Patrycja Rodzińska (Onet.pl) and Krzysztof Krzysztofiak (Kraków Technology Park) analyzed the Polish gaming market and its high potential for online games. On the business side Electronic Arts also featured with a talk on building a free-to-play title – the fact that such a traditional company covers such a topic underlines the fact that the shift to this business model continues.
What’s next for Poland?
Digital Dragons 2014 strongly showed how much potential lies in the Polish game industry. The market is developing really fast as more and more games studios are founded, and more importantly they are no longer only visible on the local scene. One of the best examples on the impact Polish games can have on an international scale is 11Bit Studios’ new title “This War of Mine”, which received wide coverage on Edge and Kotaku recently. We expect that this increased visibility will continue in the whole Polish industry. ad2games will most likely be back attending Digital Dragons next year and we’re excited to see the growth between now and then.