IIDEA presents the fifth biennial census on Italy’s video game sector

Made it Italy - growth for companies and employment, and a need for a 360 policy of support to sustain and grow international competitiveness of Italian video games

May 18, 2021 - IIDEA, the Italian Interactive Digital Entertainment Association, today presents the fifth biennial census of Italian game developers. This year's census includes not only a quantitative survey, but also a qualitative analysis of the Italian industry, thanks to a partnership with IDG Consulting, an internationally renowned research and consulting company. The census was designed to provide a complete overview of the Italian video game sector with a particular view to attract foreign investment into games Made in Italy.

The quantitative survey was conducted by means of an online questionnaire, active from February 24 to April 1, 2021. It was open to Italian companies and freelancers operating in the video game development sector in Italy. Respondents provided indications with respect to 15 macro-areas of investigation. 160 valid responses were recorded, a 26% increase over the number of responses recorded in 2018. 73% of respondents were companies, 18% were freelancers, and 9% were other forms of business.

Here are the key findings from the survey:

The local production ecosystem is growing and evolving. Italian companies are showing signs of maturity, with 73% of development firms now operating in the market for more than four years. The number of firms with over €500,000 in annual turnover and over 20 employees is growing. A third of firms now fall under the definition of SME (10+ employees) and a fifth have more than 20 employees. In the 2018 census, 17% were businesses with 10+ employees and the remaining 83% were microenterprises.

The sector creates new job opportunities and professional development. There are now over 1600 professionals employed in the production of video games in Italy in 2021, compared with 1100 in 2018. In the last 2 years 35% of companies have hired new staff and 59% plan to do so in the next two years. The sector is generating professional opportunities for younger people (79% of employees are under 36 years old) and across different and specialised disciplines, such as technology, art, and design, as well as management and support.

The domestic industry is dedicated to the international market. Italian development studios operating in the B2C market generate 94% of their revenue in the international market. The main distribution market is Europe (60%), followed by North America (25%). Italy represents only 6% of the turnover of local operators. As companies look to expand their business they look to Asia in addition to Europe and North America.

Growing financial support from publishers and reliance on public and bank financing. Most companies still use equity to finance their activities (93% vs. 88% in 2018). Increasing compared to the previous survey is the financial support from publishers (28% vs. 21% in 2018), and the use of public funding (24% vs. 6% in 2018) and banking institutions (18% vs. 6% in 2018). This growth can be interpreted as an increase in confidence in Italian studios and their productions.

The industry is adapting to the new conditions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Negative effects of the pandemic were reported in terms of delays in closing contracts with publishers, investors, and partners and in some project execution. For most companies, remote working had no effect or a positive effect on business, and nearly 70% of them will continue to use this mode of working in the future. The industry has shown a great ability to adapt to the restrictions imposed by the health emergency and a high level of flexibility in the workforce.

"This year's survey evidences positive growth for companies and employment in the sector and shows how flexible and adaptable that the Italian industry was in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic."  said Luisa Bixio, Vice President of IIDEA representing the developer members.

She concluded by saying:  "To support the growth of the sector in Italy and strengthen our international competitiveness, it is important to support and implement 360-degree policies in different and complementary areas - such as supporting the development of new intellectual property, making Italy more attractive to national and international talent and investment, the facilitation of international business development and consolidating and developing the know-how of Italian companies."