Croatian Video Game Industry Receives First State Incentives

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Florian Olivo / Unsplash
Florian Olivo / Unsplash

Following a public tender announced in 2021, the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) recently came out with a list of video game development projects that will receive state incentives in a total amount of 595,000 kuna. It’s the first time that the Croatian video game industry is being subsidised by the state.

The tender featured two subcategories: twenty six submissions were received in the category of project development, while the game production subcategory saw twenty submitted projects. The HAVC selected a total of eight projects to co-finance this year, writes tportal.

Six winning projects were announced in the project development category: Vučedol (Andrija Zorić), Professor Balthasar (Aleksandar Gavrilović), Ancient Tales (Mirinda Paraman), The Flight of the Bumblebee (Marko Hrenović and Ivan Turković-Hrnjak), One on One, Boys and Girls (Frano Petruša) and Path of View (Vanja Čulek).

In the category of game production, the HAVC selected Go Home Annie (Mladen Bošnjak) and Kiddoland (Mateja Vedrina) to receive funding.

The tender concept was similar to that seen in the film industry, explained Andrej Kovačević, creative consultant for video games at the HAVC. Every audiovisual project starts with an idea, a script – that kicks off the project development stage – and goes on to the production and post-production stages.

This is applicable to the video game industry as well. Some companies applied for funding for game development, not in terms of actually producing the game, but the initial stage that involves drawing up a detailed design plan and potentially creating a demo. They’re given 12 months to complete this stage. The other group, which applied for incentives for game production, already has the first part completed and will receive funding to produce the game, with 24 months given to finish the project.

All submissions were required to feature elements of artistic, educational or cultural significance. According to Kovačević, some projects featured established video game concepts where the required cultural component seemed to have been slapped on as an afterthought, but since this was the first tender of its kind, it was to be expected.

‘It’s an unusual financing model, one which requires documentation that these people may not be used to. In the video game industry, it’s customary for the publisher or investor to fund the entire project, whereas we have a co-financing model here. This is why we held workshops for anyone interested before the tender was announced, where we taught them how to create a project, how to budget, and the whole time while the tender was open we had guidelines published on our web pages, along with examples of best practices, available to all potential applicants’, said Kovačević.

The criteria were clearly outlined in the tender, including the relevant experience required of applicants, especially game designers and producers. Kovačević said there were applicants whose ideas were good but not well defined, and it was apparent they simply lacked experience.

‘They all received feedback and will be able to apply to the next tender with a more elaborate plan. The budget for video games is to be increased to 1.5 million kuna this year, which will create opportunities for bigger projects as well’, said Kovačević.

Other European countries have already developed the practice of subsidising the video game industry, with the sector most commonly financed through state film institutes. Spain, Romania, Austria and Switzerland have established models for co-financing video game production, same as Scandinavian countries; Croatia is the first in the region to introduce the practice.

Asked about what makes a video game successful, Kovačević referred to his experience in the industry.

‘I’ve been working in video game development for almost 10 years, and our company has launched dozens of games on the global market. One reached 500,000 users, another reached 20 million. We pivoted a lot: we made console games, educational games, and we’re now exploring the field of blockchain games. Based on all that experience, if I had to sum up the formula for success in one sentence, I’d say you need to have a game that stands out. In any way possible. In terms of visuals, mechanics… The competition is fierce, thousands of games are launched every day. You need to stand out in some way, but also have a business model which is acceptable in this day and age’, he said.



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