The gaming industry in Serbia is in a big expansion

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The gaming industry in Serbia is expanding. Great expansion, emphasizes the executive manager of the Video Game Industry Association of Serbia (SGA), Kristina Janković Obućina. Based on the state of the industry report that the association publishes each year, a record number of gaming companies and studios are expected to hire and around 450 new positions will be created during 2022. Currently, more than 2,300 people work in this sector.

More than 100 ads are active on their SGA Jobs platform every day. “Most of them are for different art positions (2D, 3D, animation, VFX…) and of course various types of programming roles”, says Janković Obućina. He adds that they are noticing more and more openings for positions that were not there before, such as specialists in “employer branding”, user acquisition, sound design, narrative and screenwriting. “Really a widening range of expertise from various fields.”

There is also a great demand for all kinds of seniors, which, she notes, is also natural in a young industry like gaming.

The positions that, according to the conclusions of that report, are currently the most difficult to fill are: game designers, producers and monetization specialists. “Programming and artistic digital skills will always be in demand, but if we don’t find a way to fill the positions that are only emerging these years, the ecosystem can’t continue to grow at the pace we’re used to”, says SGA Executive Manager.

Similarly, the platform for job ads in the IT industry HelloWorld records the following positions as the most sought-after positions in the last two years: software developer (C#, Java, Python, .NET, C++), software developer (mobile), QA tester, gaming technical writer, game designer, UI/UX designer, audio designer, 2D/3D artist, 3D animator, product manager, DevOps engineer, AI engineer and system administrator.

Since there are currently no official statistics on earnings that distinguish only the field of gaming, it is difficult to talk about the average salary in this sector. According to HelloWorld, the value range is quite wide – from 700 to 5,000 euros, depending on seniority and position.

Big players are also present on the market, games are marketed globally

Janković Obućina reminds that in the past few years, valuable acquisitions and the opening of global studios have brought big players to the market (Epic Games, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Playrix, Playstudios), but that there are still dozens of studios that were founded in Serbia. mainly in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš, which operate independently.

And all games produced in Serbia are marketed globally. In the course of 2021, domestic games were purchased or downloaded more than 370 million times, which, according to our interlocutor, is truly an incredible success.

The largest markets are the United States of America, Great Britain and Germany, where the players with the highest paying power are located. This, he explains, is especially important for mobile games that are downloaded for free, but rely on some of the monetization models for revenue (in-app purchases, advertisements…).

When it comes to the most popular genres, the trends depend on whether we are talking about “core” (for PC and console) or mobile games.

“In the past years, the big titles for consoles are mostly first-person adventures or the always popular RPG ( role-playing games ) titles”, says Jaković Obućina.

On the other hand, in the case of mobile games, the situation changes much faster – almost on a seasonal basis. It is necessary to constantly be up to date with the most popular mechanics, she points out. “Merge games and the growing number of hypercasual games – those that you can literally play with the thumb of one hand, and where a gaming session can last as little as a few minutes – are popular right now.”

Being developers here and following trends, most of our games last year were RPG games and simulations.

The reality in gaming is better than young people imagine

Taking everything into account, the executive manager of SGA concludes that it is important to make a career in gaming visible to students, but also to people from other branches of IT and beyond, who may be looking for a new, more creative challenge. “The video game industry is truly the fastest growing and currently the largest entertainment industry in the world and the only one that combines creativity and technology at such a high level.”

The impression of the director of strategy and development of the Nordeus Foundation, Miloš Đuričanin, is that the reality of working in the gaming industry is much better than the initial perception of young people, precisely because they do not have the opportunity to learn about it through formal education.

“Gaming is part of the broader creative industry, although we often classify it as IT, because we associate game development mostly with the development of other software and technology. It is more than that, since, in addition to engineers and people involved in the development of the game itself, we have different disciplines that also deal with the creative part of work – artistic, design, cultural. All this makes successful gaming companies a creative environment in which the most diverse profiles of people openly communicate and collaborate with the aim of creating the best possible experience for their users”, says Đuričanin.

Understanding the creative process in this sector, people in Serbia cannot learn at colleges, but, says our interlocutor, they need the experience of working on their game or in a gaming company. Namely, designing a game, unlike developing other software, involves designing the gameplay, plot, action, narrative, different levels and systems in the game that will attract you, keep you and return to it. “A game needs to capture one’s attention and imagination, to constantly create new challenges that players want to persevere in and return to.”

In order to improve the understanding of the work in the industry, the foundation recently launched a platform called Gamelab, which will be accompanied by hands-on game development programs, as a way of learning through experience.

“It’s ungrateful to say that the platform is intended for everyone who is interested in the gaming industry and the process of making games, that is, the different roles that people play in that process. However, at the moment it really seems to us that this is the case. If you are not familiar with these topics, equally the courses we’ve created will mean something to you, whether you’re going to high school, college or already working in another industry”, explains the director at the foundation.

Practically speaking, we are talking about basic courses that give the possibility of understanding the direction of further training, depending on the interests of the participants. The first six courses were conducted with experts from Nordeus, as part of the “Take on an Idea” project, which is being implemented by the “Digital Serbia” Initiative with the support of USAID. However, the plan is for other gaming companies to join in, so that the entire domestic gaming industry can share knowledge with young people, Bloomberg Adria writes.