The German Gaming Market: Why Localization is Important for the German Speaking Market

More than 275,000 visitors immersed themselves in the gaming world at Cologne’s gamescom fair in 2012. In terms of the number of visitors, Gamescom is the largest trade fair in the world for video games and takes place every year with the number of attendees and exhibitors increasing annually. It seems that in Germany gaming is becoming more and more popular and the attitude towards video games is generally very positive.

According to the Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware e. V. (BIU), the interest group of providers and producers of entertainment software in Germany, the most populous country in the European Union represents the second largest gaming market in Europe after the United Kingdom (or the third largest if the Russian market is included). Whereas other markets are struggling or have peaked, the games market in Germany is continuing to grow. In 2011, the turnover of computer and video games software increased by 3.5% and for the first half of 2012 BIU reported an increase of 1% compared to the same period of time in 2011. In general, the turnover on virtual items is on the rise; the growth in this sector equates to 70% between the period of 2010 and 2011. The situation is slightly different in Austria and Switzerland, however. In Austria, the ÖVUS  (the Austrian equivalent to the BIU) reported a decrease in revenue, although there was an increase in the last quarter of 2011 thanks to Christmas sales. In Switzerland, the turnover also decreased.  Nevertheless, the ÖVUS as well as the SIEA, the Swiss Interactive Entertainment Association, is very confident about the future of the games market. But let’s put economics aside for a moment and look at the gamers themselves.

German Gamers

In 1951, Nimrod, the first computer designed to play a game, was presented at the Festival of Britain and afterwards at the Industrial Fair in Berlin. Ludwig Erhard, the then Minister of Economic Affairs of Western Germany, accepted the challenge, only to be beaten by the computer. Three times in a row. If technology had been then, what it is now – who knows, maybe he would have become an avid gamer. If this had been so, then he would have represented a rather small demographic of German gamers; only 15% of over 50s play games compared to 76% of the 25 million German teenagers, who represent the largest group of gamers. The average German gamer, however, is 32 years old and male. With 44% of all gamers – or almost 11 million – being female, the common stereotype of gamers being teenage boys is definitely proven to be just that and no more. According to the Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware e. V. (BIU), the increasing number of female gamers can be attributed to the fact that dance/music/party and social games are becoming ever more popular.

The number one platform used among German gamers is still the PC/MAC, with approximately one out of four Germans playing games on their personal computer. It’s followed by the PlayStation and Wii . Nonethless, the number of users of browser and online games is growing. Interestingly enough the average player of browser games is, at 38, slightly older than the typical gamer.

Research also shows that gamers in Germany are willing to spend money on virtual items – not only is the number of users who buy virtual items growing, but so is the amount of money spent on these items. Almost three out of four gamers who buy virtual items are male.

The Games

Careful thinking, planning – Germans seem to like strategy. The Settlers of Catan, a strategy board game, was and still is one of the most played and most sold board games in Germany. So it’s not surprising that strategy video games are also the most popular genre among German gamers. A survey conducted by TNS Emnid, a renowned market research company, revealed that approximately 56% of gamers interviewed enjoyed strategy games, whereas almost 40% liked playing party games. Adventure games and action/shooter games were popular among 34% and 33% of the interviewed persons, while 32% liked sports games and 29% enjoyed discovering new worlds in role-playing games. If we have a look at the top selling games charts we can see that the most popular genres are role-playing games, action/adventure, and sports games, confirming the results of this survey.

All of the data mentioned above refers only to Germany. If we keep in mind the numerous gamers in Austria and Switzerland, and also that German is spoken in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, parts of Belgium and in the north of Italy as well, one can say that video game localization for the German speaking market will definitely pay off.

With an increasing international demand for video games, it’s becoming more important than ever to ensure that your product is properly localized. Gamers of all nationalities prefer to play games in their native language and so having your game properly localized is key to reaching your markets and achieving as much visibility as possible. Contact MO Group International today to find out how we can help you.

About MO Group International

MO Group International is a localization, translation and game testing provider. With linguistic expertise in over 40 different languages for every genre of game, MO Group International delivers high quality QA testing and localization services. Working on small-to-large-scale projects, MO Group International caters to the cultural and linguistic needs of both its clients and its customers. For more information, visit

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