The Dutch online gaming industry

The Dutch gaming industry is one of the fastest growing and most highly acclaimed in the world. The Netherlands also has one of the most active online gaming markets in Europe.

Holland is a serious player in the global gaming industry

Gaming is booming. The number of gamers is growing rapidly in the past years. With the rise of online, casual and serious gaming, Dutch gaming companies have increased significantly too. In the past five years, the number of people employed in the Dutch gaming industry has doubled. Dutch educational institutes have responded to these trends by developing courses and curricula to support the development in the gaming sector. While the market for entertainment games is dominated by foreign companies, Dutch firms are performing well in markets such as serious and casual gaming. Spil Games is the largest online game platform. The websites of Spil Games attract 130 million unique visitors per month. Moreover, Zylom, which was acquired by RealNetworks in 2006, is one of the European market leaders in casual games. In the field of serious games Ranj is one of the most innovative serious games company in Europe. Zylom won two European Innovative Games awards. In the area of entertainment games Dutch companies have also produced some successes such as Overlord (Triumph) and Killzone (Guerilla).

Two main trends

On a global level two main trends can be identified.

  1. First of all, the advancement of gaming hardware brings graphically more attractive games.
  2. Secondly, faster and more widespread communication networks make it possible to play more advanced games online.

The growing presence of broadband and 3g+ networks improves internet access and leads to more use of social network platforms and mobile internet (and mobile devices). In the gaming sector the network improvements have lead to the rise of Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and mobile and social casual games (i.e. World of Warcraft, phone-based gaming and Farmville).

Serious gaming

Another recent trend is the development of serious gaming. Serious games are simulations or games that are employed for educational purposes. These games can be used in recruitment processes, emergency response training or practicing of skills ranging from driving to conducting surgery.

Key aspects and strengths

  • In 2009 the worldwide turnover of the gaming industry was more than € 60 billion. This is € 18 billion more than the movie industry.
  • The development costs of a top-quality game are on average about € 5 million. Furthermore, marketing expenditure can easily double the total expenditures.
  •  The Dutch government supports enterprises in attracting funding. The Dutch government provides guarantees for security and business loans, microfinance facilities, and support for venture capital funds that invest in technology.
  •  Several incubator facilities for media and IT companies are present in the Netherlands. The Dutch Game Garden in Utrecht is the only incubator solely focussed on providing support for starting gaming enterprises.

Facts & Figures

  • The Dutch game industry is growing. In 2010 there were 173 gaming companies in the Netherlands which employ 2,300 people in total. The total turnover of the Dutch gaming industry was estimated at 145 million Euros in 2009. Since 2004 the number of gaming companies in the Netherlands has risen to 39. The number of people employed in the gaming industry almost doubled in the same period from 1,200 to 2,300.
  • Dutch gaming companies are young and dynamic. Most companies have between 10 and 20 employees. 17% of the companies have more than 20 employees. One third of the companies employ 10 people or less.Fout! Bladwijzer niet gedefinieerd. The number of people employed often changes over time. Gaming companies often make use of hiring temporary developers.
  • The core activity of most Dutch gaming firms is the development of games (30% of respondents), followed by advergaming/game portals (20%) and publishing & development (17%). MMO publishing and development (10% of respondents) and serious game publishing & development (8%).
  •  Sales of games in the Netherlands have increased fast in the past years. In 2009 there were 9.3 million gamers in the Netherlands, out of a total population of 16.5 million. The Dutch market for gaming had a size of € 931.6 million in 2009, an increase of 18.9% compared to 2008. On average, the market size has grown by 19.4% a year since 2004. The market for games hardware grew especially fast (24.9% a year), while the market for games also experienced rapid growth (15.6% a year). The Dutch market is dominated by foreign companies. The three major companies operating in the Netherlands are Nintendo (27.7% of market share), Sony (16.6%) and Microsoft (11.2%).
  •  The online game market in the Netherlands is the third largest in Europe. The Dutch online gaming market comprises 12.2% of the western European online gaming market.
  •  After the market for console games, which accounted for 46% of the total spending on video games, the market for online games is the second-largest in the Netherlands at 36% of the total video game spending. In 2009 there were 1,8 million subscribers to online video games in the Netherlands, an increase of 40.6% compared to 2007. By 2014 this number is expected to grow up to almost 3 million. The total market for online games was estimated at € 217 million in 2009 by PwC.
  •  The fastest growing segment in the Netherlands is the market for games advertising, which they expect to grow by 15.6% annually in the period 2010-2014. In 2009 the market for games advertising in the Netherlands was € 16 million, by 2014 revenues in this segment are expected to have grown to 33 million.
  •   Of the games segments the segment for online games is expected to grow the fastest (9.1% annually), followed by the wireless games market (7.7%) and the market for console games (5.4%). The market for PC Games is expected to decline by on average 3.2% a year.