Why Barcelona Is Turning Into An European Hub For Gaming Startups

A total of 120.000 people attended the Barcelona Games World conference in 2016.

Barcelona Games World 2016 recently ended as a success with over 120.000 visitors over four days. It was the first year the congress was held, and entertained its attendants with over 1000 gaming stations, 30 mini conferences and 371 interviews with prominent game developers.

But this is only one of several elements that makes Barcelona one of the most vibrant hubs for gaming startups in Europe.

Big players

Most technology hubs around the world has big players both stealing & contributing to the environment. In some ways you can say that the big players validate the ecosystem with their presence.

As London houses major fintech startups such as Transferwise, Mondo & Atom, Barcelona has several big gaming startups like King (Activision), Social Point (local), Digital Legends and Tutotoons which have raised millions of euros the last years and engages 100 of millions of people through mobile and desktop games every day.

There’s also been a long time presence from veterans such as Ubisoft, Gameloft and other heavy hitters.

There are also a community of many AR and VR startups and companies that can be beneficial for game developers looking to create games in this space. Not to talk about betting games startups such as Playfulbet with over 6 million users worldwide, that have a huge community of Esports enthusiasts.

Pol Ruiz, CEO and founder of Playfulbet attended the Barcelona Games World, and told me how the conference was one of the greatest gatherings of gaming industry ever taking place in Barcelona.

The city is playing along

But big companies and innovative startups are not enough in the long run, to foster a true hub for gaming startups in Barcelona you also need supporters: gamers.

Luckily, Barcelona is also home to thousands of gamers. Not only shown through the Barcelona Games World conference, but through the annual Esports event ESL Expo, that attracted over 5000 people last year.

ESL Expo Barcelona attracted thousands of people.

Also local authorities are playing along, as Barcelona Activa, the local government arm supporting startups in the region has been backing an accelerator called Game BCN, aiming at accelerating gaming startups. There are also several gaming startups with funding and loans from the government operating from the city.

But it’s not only the local government who’s playing along, also the technical universities offer education focused on game design and development, both and bachelor and master degrees.

One of the biggest events in Barcelona every year is the Mobile World Congress, with over 100.000 attendants from all over the world. The speakers for the MWC 2017 was released last week, and the top headliner was John Hanke CEO of Niantic Labs that created Pokémon GO.

There are few statistics about the gaming industry in Barcelona, but in Spain there are about 450 development studios, with about 5.000 employees, where 40% of the workers are in Catalonia, according to Asociación Española de Videojuegos.

According to the AEV there are around 110 game studios located in Catalunya, and the number is growing every year.

What to expect from the future?

So with all these gaming related companies and institutions, can we call Catalunya or Barcelona one of Europe’s growing gaming hubs?

I think it’s safe to say that if the community continues to grow like it does now, we’ll see a lot of great companies coming out of the city.

For now, it makes it easier for the existing startups and entrepreneurs to find a friendly community and support for their ideas.

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