SGA was established in March 2018, when eight founding members decided to join forces as soon as they realized that the Serbian gaming industry is mature enough to have one voice that represents their common interests. Founding members were entirely diverse in terms of team size and types of games they were making which ensured that the association will represent the best interests of the entire industry. Since then, the association grew considerably and enhanced the scope of activities.
When we set out to establish the Serbian Games Association (SGA), we were cautiously optimistic. We immediately recognized the value a trade organization such as the SGA can bring to the growth and development of the industry. However, we were uncertain as to how big the ecosystem is and how it would react to our initiative.
Today, I am proud to say that the response was incredibly positive, and we were blown away with the size of the ecosystem and its diversity. SGA now has over 60 members, ranging from indie teams, esports businesses, VFX studios, to globally recognized game developers. We also have our Partners whose services are helping our members to develop and inspire future generations. Thanks to the activities of SGA, our members, and our partners, the community is thriving.
Together, our members have created one of the fastest-growing parts of our economy, employing over 1.500 people in highly skilled and highly productive jobs.
Thanks to them – our incredibly talented people and their work, Serbia is now positioned as one of the hottest new countries for game development.
I consider myself incredibly privileged to be at the epicenter of the Serbian games industry.
Every day, I am amazed by the creativity, hard work and persistence demonstrated by our members. From groundbreaking technology to create digital humans, audio-based video games for visually impaired people to massively popular mobile games, our members are pushing the boundaries of the global video games industry.
1. Investment Opportunities
Serbia is home to an estimated 70+ studios and companies. For the vast majority of them, including the globally successful ones, they had no starting capital and bootstrapped all the way to the top. Despite the unprecedented growth of the sector, most of it has continued to be organic. Even in 2018, the majority of the raised capital is sourced from friends and family. 60% of companies we interviewed for our annual report stated they are seeking capital investment in 2019 to enable faster growth and development. Two-thirds are looking to raise pre-seed money, below 500 thousand euros, while the rest is pursuing a seed round, up to 5 million euros.
That scene is set to change as the government introduced tax incentives in 2019, where tech startups, including gaming ones, can pay almost no corporate income tax thanks to the generous programs and incentives. As a result of these incentives, there is a surge of interest among domestic and international investors in Serbian gaming studios. In the first half of 2019, we already had major acquisitions, including Epic Games acquiring 3Lateral, a Novi Sad based studio with 100+ employees. These giants from the video games industry have joined Ubisoft, who opened a studio in Belgrade 3 years ago and already has well over a hundred employees.
2. Top Gaming Ecosystem in Europe to watch out for
This year’s edition of the global start-up report by Startup Genome underlined Serbia as the place to watch out for in the next period. The ecosystem is seeing particularly noteworthy success in Gaming and Blockchain technology. Here are some useful stats from the report:
- As a high-growth ecosystem, Belgrade and Novi Sad have a Funding Growth Index of a 10 and Output Growth Index of 9.
- The region is in the top 5 ecosystems for affordable talent, with access to high-quality engineering talent.
- Tech startups pay almost no corporate income tax; they enjoy accelerated R&D reduction (2x) and IP Box (3%) tax regimes.
There are an estimated 1.500 people employed in the video games sector in Serbia. The workforce is diverse and is expected to grow as more than half of the companies are looking to expand in 2019. However, despite the diversity, Serbia is most known for its highly skilled engineers and programmers. Besides the existing professionals, there are currently 30.000 university students in Mathematics, IT and Computing, and 10.000 more high-schoolers learning about Mechanics and Electronics across Serbia. Thanks to the collaboration of the Petlja foundation and the government, Serbia is one of the very few countries in the world where computer science and programming is taught in primary school, starting in the fifth grade. With plans to introduce programming as early as the first grade in the near future, Serbia is ensuring it will remain ranked highly on the global map of talented engineers for the foreseeable future.