We’ve covered the American cities that should make your list, but now it’s time to focus on Europe. While it may seem like America and Asia have the hold on games, Europe shouldn’t be underestimated. The coffee-fueled, book-reading public enjoys their games too, and as such, there’s plenty of work to be done in France, Italy, Spain, and more!
Here are the top European cities for game developers:
That’s right, Denmark, known as one of the happiest places in the world. Home of Hamlet and creativity. This city just might be the crowning jewel of game development in pretty much all of Europe, although it never gets the credit (more on that below).
Bedtime Digital, Guppyworks, Logic Artists, Playdead, Press Play, Reto-Moto, Gameloft, Game Swing, and Ultra Ultra are all here. There’s plenty of options, albeit a little less than in Stockholm. But the thing about Copenhagen is . . . it’s super close to other cities with even more options! Malmo, right next to it, has more; Hamburg, Gothenburg and Oslo all have gaming companies.
Before you go, Denmark is expensive, like Japan. If your card doesn’t have a pin, it won’t swipe, and therefore, you need to keep a debit card or kroner on hand. Hot dogs and Noma are king, but you’re not getting into Noma, so might as well get an extra dog.
Also, this is super important: Denmark isn’t socialist, it’s actually a market economy, which means high taxes and large welfare. Property rights are well-protected, there’s few hiring and firing restrictions, no legislated minimum wage, and thereby classifies high on economic freedom. However, you can’t brag in Denmark. It’s customary to withhold any self-praise, regardless of achievements, hence why you don’t hear much about Copenhagen’s gaming scene.
Bit Barons, Chimera Entertainment, Disney Interactive, Icebird Studios, MegaZebra, Reality Twist, and Travian Games are all in Munich. There’s a ton more, although, not as many as in other cities in Europe, or even in Germany itself. We suggest only moving here if you have a day job lined up and want a little side project in game development.
Be prepared with Munich, however. Finding a place to live is a hassle, especially for foreigners and people with children and pets. If you’re all three, good luck! In the words of Allane Miliane, a Brazilian travel writer living in Germany, “Landlords know that the demand is high, so they get to be picky with the people they choose to live in their property.” One solution she offers to get away from the high rent cost anyway, is to live in nearby towns, and drive into the city, or use the S-Bahn (suburban trains).
Amplitude Studios, Agooloo Studios, Area Effect, Atari (publisher, but they’re also in NY, fun fact), Captive Studio, Digiworks Paris, Disney Interactive, Gameloft, and Blizzard (yes, they’re in France as well), are all in Paris. There are many more where they came from too. It’s a predominantly indie scene, with limited AAA options.
Some things you should know before moving to Paris are as follows: coffee is super important, the city is made up of 20 arrondissements (districts), but everyone coming from other countries just tends to know the first 8, and you’ll need a Navigo (Metro pass). Transport is cheap, but cheaper still with the pass. More so, you should be dressing to impress, as is customary in the city, and drinking in public is totally allowed. There’s someone around doing it anyway, so go make a friend!
Surprise, surprise, the Italians love their video games. There’s 34 Big Things, Bad Seed, Brain in the Box, Blizzard (they’re everywhere, aren’t they?), Gameloft, Digital Tales, Koch Media, Mixed Bag, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Stigma Studios, and more. They’re all in Milan.
In fact, if you’re serious about moving to Europe to pursue a more laid back lifestyle, good food, and a career in games, then Milan should be the first place you check out. It has more AAA options than any other city on this list alone.
Just know a few things before going: all the streets lead to the Dome (Cathedral of Milan), locally-grown produce is a thing, it’s always the right time for a drink, and the electronic scene is, well, massive. More so, this is a fashionista capital, and as such, any tacky outfit choices should be burned right now, including oversized jewels.
There’s (you guessed it) Blizzard Entertainment, EA Madrid, Gameloft, Zenith, Fictiorama Studios, Hydra Interactive Entertainment, Over the Top Games, and Stage Clear Studios, to name a few. So, you could say that Spain has a strong hold on gaming. It’s predominantly indie, but there is a bit of AAA going on as well.
Just remember, moving to Madrid means you should probably learn a little Spanish, and begin eating at different times (breakfast between 9-10, lunch around 2:30, and dinner at 9). Also, get used to olive oil and people touching your arm or something when they’re speaking to you. They’re not trying anything, they’re just friendly.
Ace Maddox, Avalanche Studios, DICE Stockholm, Doctor Entertainment, King, Lightbulb Crew, Frostbite, MAG Interactive, Uprise, and Paradox Interactive are all in Stockholm. There is way more, about double of what you’d find in cities like Munich. What’s more is that there is plenty of AAA to choose from, as well as indie.
Some things to be mindful of before moving to Stockholm include the city’s complete and utter love of coffee, the long lines everywhere (especially the pharmacy, tax office and grocery stores), and many stores close early, not just on the weekends. It’s recommended you get all shopping done before 5pm.
On the bright side, it’s customary for men to share child raising responsibilities in Stockholm, and it’s common for the men to stay home and raise the children while the women go to work. Whooo!
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