Culture Ministry considers supporting Czech video game industry

Mafia, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, or Machinarium – those are some of the internationally most successful Czech video games. The industry has been identified as a high growth sector by the Czech government and could receive state funding in the future similar to that which is granted to film makers.

The puzzle point-and-click adventure game Machinarium from Amanita Design has sold over 4 million copies since it came out 12 years ago and remains one of the most successful video games created in the Czech Republic. However, its three-year-long development was plagued by a lack of financial resources, the game’s designer, Jakub Dvorský, told Czech Radio.

“When the money ran out completely, we would have to stop making the game and focus on some different contract altogether for several months. That led to the development of the game taking longer. It would have certainly been easier for us had we received some sort of support from the beginning.”

Up-and-coming game developer studios are precisely the target group that the state is planning to support in the future, according to Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek who is currently running for re-election into the lower-house of Parliament for the Social Democrats. The currently existing Czech Film Fund, which allocates subsidies to film makers, will be restructured into an audio-visual fund in the future. This new fund will also allocate money into the country’s games industry, he told Czech Radio.

“The whole entertainment industry is a huge driver of growth today. Even the coronavirus crisis helped accelerate growth in this area. In the long run, I think that this is a huge opportunity for the Czech Republic.”

The Czech games industry is already flourishing. According to the Czech Chamber of Commerce, there are currently 118 developer studios in the country with 58 new video games being created just last year. The industry grew by 60 percent in 2020, with total revenues exceeding CZK 5 billion.

The Chairman of the Czech Game Developers Association Pavel Barák told Czech Radio that state funding could lead to more successes for the Czech games industry.

“Judging by the Nordic countries, where the system is relatively well set up, it could mean that there would be more video game start-ups and therefore perhaps even more major game titles produced in the Czech Republic.”

Nevertheless, even if the Culture Ministry does end up going ahead with the plan, video game developers will only be able to receive funding from 2024 at the earliest, at least according to the ministry’s current vision for the project.

Authors: Tom McEnchroe , Jakub Horáček
run audio