The Games Forum - Photo credits CowboyTV

The Games Forum: The video games industry in Greece – Opportunities and challenges

Last Sunday, we had the privilege of being invited to The Games Forum on the topic of video game development in Greece. We want to express our gratitude to Andreas Derdemezis and CowboyTV  for giving us the opportunity to participate in such an insightful and engaging discussion. The forum brought together industry professionals, developers, gaming enthusiasts, and even government officials to discuss the current state and future prospects of the gaming industry in Greece.

The Games Forum: Discussions

The Games Forum: The role of media and social media in the industry

The first panel, “Media/Social”, focused on the impact of media and social media on the gaming community, with panelists including Panagiotis Kakolyris, COO & Head of Strategy of SocialDoo, Yusanof, a video games influencer with 200k TikTok followers, Pavlos Kroustis, editor of VG24 and, Angelos Perlegkas, Social Media Strategist & Instructor, and Elias Apostolopoulos, Esports Manager of CowboyTV.

During the panel, Kakolyris discussed communication difficulties in the gaming industry and the necessity of using new marketing methods in an industry that is at its peak, while Yusanof added that social media is a powerful tool for reaching out to the gaming community and building a loyal fan base.

Perlegkas discussed how gaming can be used to convey ethical messages and serve as a means of expression. He highlighted the role of online connectivity and socialisation through remote play in the digital world. He also stressed the importance of using social media to expand the target group of the gaming industry and enhance educational programs with new technologies. 

Apostolopoulos explored the possibility of gaming as a profession, either as a professional gamer or as a content creator, highlighting the importance of accessibility and infrastructure to support growth in the sector and help aspiring gamers, concluding the 1st panel of The Games Forum.

GDA: Greek creators

The panel was followed by a presentation of Game Developers Association of Greece and its activities, which include Level Up seminars, workshops and mentorship programs, and meetups of Greek developers. One exciting development was the GDA’s attendance at Gamescom 2022 in Cologne, Germany, where they showcased Greek games at an exhibition booth. They will also be returning to the event in 2023 with even more games and developers. Currently, there are 44 active game development companies in Greece, with 99 games already in the global market, and 123 developers involved in the industry, professionally or otherwise.

Another speaker at the conference was Evtychios Zacharias, COO & Co-Founder of Iphigames, who discussed their new studio and role as a publishing label for creators who lack funding. Zacharias also highlighted the need to create game development curricula and the potential of gamification in the health sector. Specifically gaming as a form of rehab support for patients who suffered a stroke. He also discussed their latest project, NeuroVR, a VR-based rehab tool for those with concussions.

The Games Forum: Live connection with Manab Roy from Thessaloniki

A quick online presentation was given by Manab Roy, Head of Communications Export Markets at Ubisoft, despite him attending TheComicCon in Thessaloniki. He emphasised the importance of Greece as a key market for Ubisoft in terms of revenue and the rapidly growing community of gamers.

The Games Forum: The growing pains of game development in Greece

The second panel, “Video Games Industry in Greece,” was moderated by Andreas Derdemezis. Attendees discussed concerns about public perception of video games and proposed solutions for the industry’s vertical development. The panel was attended by the Secretary General of Telecommunications & Postal Services of the Ministry of Digital Governance, Athanasios Staveris; the Brand Manager of CD Media, Nikos Maniatis; and the President of the Game Developers Association of Greece, Vassilis Karavasilis.

Nikos Maniatis focused on three main goals: helping distribution companies of games, attracting large corporate giants to have regional hubs, and developing the ecosystem in Greece to take advantage of local talent. Meanwhile, Vassilis Karavasilis, citing Sweden as an example, questioned what Greece is doing wrong. He also raised concerns over why Greek gaming developers do not stay and work in Greece, with no serious approach from the government towards the industry. Concluding that despite the fact that both private investment and a well designed public framework are needed, the government and the public sector are completely absent.

The Games Forum: The role of the state in the gaming industry

Then the time came for an open conversation with Andreas Derdemezis, founder of CowboyTV and organizer of GAMEATHLON, and Mr. Pierrakakis, Minister of State & Digital Governance. The Minister applauded the rapid growth of the industry in this country and its increasing contribution to the domestic economy, while he spoke at length about the prospects that new technologies are creating for the Greek economy.

After the discussion, we had the opportunity to pose the following question to the Minister: “How do you plan to address the lack of accessibility to mobile internet, which is one of the most expensive in the world, in order to develop mobile and cloud gaming as a more accessible form of gaming in Greece?”. To which the Minister, Mr Pierrakakis, committed to lower mobile internet prices with network expansion by 2027, in case of course they get re-elected.

The Games Forum: Competitive gaming and esports

The Secretary General for Digital Governance and Simplification of Procedures, Leonidas Christopoulos, introduced the final two panels, which focused on Esports and Video Games Made in Greece.

The Esports panel , moderated by Elias Apostolopoulos, analysed the difficulties of professional recognition in the industry, with insights from Yannis Mollis and Michalis Papadimitrakis, owners of WLG and Luminex Planet teams, as well as established industry professionals Kostas “Nero” Perperidis and Mario “Nivek” Bitsikoko.

The Games Forum: tangible examples of Greek art

Closing the panel, the Video Games Made in Greece panel took place, which featured game creators Michael Papastergiou, Nikos Larin, Maria Aloupi, and Kostas Tsergoulas, who analysed the background of video game creation in the country and discussed ways of financing their ideas. The audience was also given the opportunity to play the Greek Darverse games for free, including titles like Rogue, B’n’B, Homeseek, SELINI, Skaramazuzu, Abtos Covert, Albert Wilde: Quantum P.I., Roots of Evil, and REKY.

The Games Forum in a nutshell

The Games Forum was an interesting project from the Gameathlon organization and CowboyTV. The discussions were very interesting, although the event presented the flaws that one would expect to see in this kind of event, which has a role to be a channel of communication for discussion, but also for weighing interests between the government, professionals, and the public.

The discussions certainly highlighted the enormous efforts that professionals in the field make for their art, but also the fact that all these projects are largely done as individual projects, without any central organization or support. However, even so, we must applaud the work of Greek developers, who in extremely adverse conditions continue to work on their goals and dreams, often without reward.

The state’s role in developing a new sustainable industry was the focal point of many of the discussions we attended. According to the professionals themselves, whether we’re talking about young creators or distribution veterans like CDMedia, the state has been absent from the biggest endeavors and has often even stood – perhaps unknowingly – as an obstacle to new activity in the industry, whether domestic or in the form of outside investment.

Members of the state leadership attending the conference showed a willingness to listen and empower ventures in the industry, should they be re-elected. The timing of the conference, in general, was somewhat surprising. However, we will adhere to no politica, and we, in turn, want to point out our willingness to help as much as possible to promote Greek efforts in the field and to participate in highlighting the talent and creativity we witnessed at The Games Forum