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Mapping: 20+ Gaming Startups from Southeast Europe

a man in a dark room gaming startups in Southeast Europe
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Have you ever wondered why the gaming industry is so huge and popular, or why the sector is so fast-growing? The truth is that gaming provides one of the most incredible forms of entertainment. For billions of people. Every day. 

What is the actual worth of the gaming industry around the globe? Here are some facts in numbers. The gaming industry’s value exceeds the value of the movie and the music industries merged together. The game industry revenue is over $300B. Another striking fact is the number of active players around the world. More than 25% of the world’s population are gamers.

Game development has become a leading industry, with a great importance in today’s tech world. It is constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation, entertainment, and technology. 

The COVID-19 pandemics hit most other economic sectors but not the gaming industry. Since the beginning of the world crisis, gaming has become even more popular. With billions of users per second/minute/hour/day, the industry constantly expands its limits. And it is no wonder that game development is becoming an essential part of the SEE ecosystem, too.

For many years, Japan, Western Europe, and North America have been the leading hubs. But the rise of the sector’s popularity in the Balkans and the region is just getting started. 

Nowadays, many young people choose the gaming industry as a place to build a career. And as developers from emerging Europe successfully find their way to create innovations and offer top products to the market, the gaming industry is becoming of great cultural and regional importance. 

A RECONOMY’s research shows that the game development sector in Serbia is becoming one of the fastest-growing niches of the country’s IT industry. As a leading force on the Balkans, Serbia is on its way of becoming a regional hub. The country’s lead in the gaming industry can bring potential investors, bright-minded talents, and many benefits to the whole region.

In the list below, you can find some of the SEE region’s gaming industry gems.

The list is not exhaustive. If you think we’ve missed an important player, drop us a line at [email protected]

*Serbia*

Name: Nordeus, based in Belgrade

Founders: Branko Milutinović, Tomislav Mihajlović, Milan Jovović, Ivan Stojisavljević

Solution: Nordeus is a Belgrade-based studio for mobile games development. The company’s biggest gaming project is the mobile soccer game “Top Eleven,” which has over 240 million registered users. Nordeus is one of the most active players in the Serbian gaming ecosystem as they participate in various not-for-profit initiatives, such as the Digital Serbia Initiative and the Serbian Gaming Association.

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Launch/funding: 2010; acquired by Take-Two Interactive in 2021 for up to $378M

 

Name: Webelinx Games, based in Niš

Founders: Dimitrije Petkovic, Marko Kitanović

Solution: Webelinx Games is a game development studio that is most famous for its Love Story game series. The Niš-based company has reached over 1 billion downloads on the mobile app market.

Launch: 2020

 

Name: 3Lateral, based in Novi Sad

Founders: Vladimir Mastilovic

Solution: The company develops innovative technologies to digitize human characters, using 3D and 4D face and body gamification. It has had many successful AAA gaming projects in the past, and most recently the company introduced its MetaHuman project that enables users to create realistic digital characters. 3Lateral was acquired by Epic Games in 2019.

Launch: 2012

 

Name: Digital Arrow, based in Novi Sad

Founders: Ferenc Giric, Norbert Varga

Solution: Digital Arrow is an independent game development company that is focused on creating games for PC, Console, and VR platforms. Recently, the company was chosen by BestStartup for one of the top 32 video games startups and companies in the Balkans.

Launch: 2015

 

Name: Peaksel, based in Niš

Founders: Marko Petkovic

Solution: Peaksel is a mobile development company which specializes in end-to-end development of games for Android and iOS devices. The company has released over 300 games, with a total of over 300M downloads, without any external investors. Peaksel is a privately held company which operates on its own profits.

Launch: 2012

 

Name: Bunker VFX, based in Belgrade

Founders: Kosta Mihailovski, Ana Uzelac

Solution: It is a visual effects studio that develops high-end AAA video game trailers, animation, visual effects and other post production materials. Some of the studio’s clients are Mad Head Studios, Redhill Games, Games Revolted, Warner Bros Entertainment, and others.produce high end video game trailers, animation, visual effects and other post production shenanigans.

Launch: 2014

 

*Bulgaria*

Name: Coherent Labs, based in Sofia

Founders: Dimitar Trendafilov, Georgi Petrov, Nikola Vasilev, Stoyan Nikolov

Solution: Coherent Labs Is a professional game UI middleware on the market. It helps game developers and designers to incorporate innovative technologies, such as HTML5 and CSS3, in the industry. The company is partnering with over 200 studios globally.

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Launch/funding: 2012; €500K

 

Name: Rebellious Software, based in Sofia

Founders: Pavel Kolev

Solution: Rebellious Software is a game development studio which specializes in core game development. In 2013, the company won the NASA Space Apps Challenge, one of the largest hackathons in the world, beating over 25 000 competitors. 

Launch/funding: 2014; €550K 

 

Name: Cryowar, based in Sofia

Founders: Mariyan Boychev

Solution: Cryowar provides its users with blockchain multiplayer games for PC and mobile devices. It is a real-time multiplayer PVP arena NFT game that offers a competitive gameplay experience.

Launch/funding: 2021; $3.7M

 

Name: Wiener Games, based in Sofia

Founders: Konstantin Dinev, Ico Penchev

Solution: Wiener Games is a game development company that creates online casino games for mobile devices. It also offers services like 2D/3D graphics and animation. 

Launch/funding: 2013; $100K; acquired in September 2021 for €700K 

 

*Croatia*

Name: Littlecode, based in Split

Founders: Antonio Seric, Josip Orsolic

Solution: Littlecode offers software development services by introducing new technologies. The company has over 40 worldwide delivered projects. It has business clients from Germany, Austria, the USA, France, and the UK.

Launch: 2017

 

Name: Exordium Games, based in Zagreb

Founders: Andrej Kovacevic (co-owner and game director)

Solution: Exordium Games is an independent game studio which produces a diverse set of games, differing in genre. It’s main approach is fast prototyping and delivery of innovative concepts

Launch: 2014

 

Name: Gamechuck, based in Zagreb

Founders: Igor Kolar, Aleksandar Gavrilovic

Solution: Gamechuck is a game development studio that aims to provide innovative gaming experiences. Their vision is to create games that consist of mechanics within the story, the visuals, and the sound.

Launch: 2017

 

*Romania*

Name: Machinations.io, based in Cluj-Napoca

Founders: Mihai Gheza, Dana Moasa Ghez, Vlad Centea, Alin Moldovan, Radu Craciun, Joris Dormans

Solution: Machinations is a collaborative platform to design, balance, and simulate game systems. The company’s services offer its users to map a diagram of any game system. The diagram can show different outcomes and balance one’s game economy. Recently, Machinations raised $3.3M in a Series A investment round led by the European VC Hiro Capital.

Launch/funding: 2018; $4.8M 

 

Name: Digitap, based in Cluj-Napoca

Founders: Alex Rus, Daniel Tamas 

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Solution: Digital is a game development studio that creates casual mobile games. Their most recent project WAM.app is a crypto gaming platform which was nominated at the Mobile Games Awards of 2021. The project is among the finalists in the category Best Innovation.

Launch/funding: 2016; €300K (Crunchbase from 2020)/ $800K (Medium)

 

Name: Firebyte Games, based in Cluj-Napoca

Founders: Ovidiu Stegaru (CEO), Alexandru Gombos (CTO)

Solution: Firebyte Games is a game developer focused on mobile games with a global reach. The company offers both in-house development and game development for external partners. Firebyte Games was recently listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange.

Launch/funding: 2018; €1M in 2021 from investors

 

*Turkey*

Name: Ela Game Studio, based in Izmir

Founders: Murat Alagöz

Solution: Ela Game Studio develops hyper-casual mobile gaming applications. The team released a new game at the end of 2021, Draft Race 3D. Recently, the company reached a total of 10 million downloads for its all four games.

Launch/funding: 2020; €1.4M 

 

Name: Hey Games, based in Istanbul

Founders: Cantuğ Özsoy, Ferhat Kozan 

Solution: Hey Games is an independent mobile game development company. It was listed in BestStartup as one of the leading video games startups in Turkey.

Launch/funding: 2018; $1.2M

 

Name: Fomo Games, based in Istanbul

Founders: Emre Teksoz, Yunus Güvenen, Yusuf Ceylan (Managing Partners)

Solution: Fomo Games is an indie game development studio that develops casual mobile games. Some of the Fomo Games’ investors include Libertus Capital and AREA group.

Launch/funding: 2019; $7.2M

 

Name: Bigger Games, based in Istanbul

Founders: Erkan Gürel, Hakan Ulvan, Yanki Yagiz Akpek

Solution: Bigger Games is a mobile gaming company that has over 110 million downloads of its games. Their mobile games are available both for iOS and Android. The company recently raised $6M. Index Ventures are part of this investment round.

Launch/funding: 2019; $6M

 

Name: Dream Games, based in Istanbul

Founders: Eren Sengul, Hakan Saglam, Ikbal Namli, Serdar Yilmaz, Soner Aydemir

Solution: Dream Games is a mobile gaming company that specializes in the fields of casual games, and video games in the gaming industry. In 2021, the company raised $155M in a Series B investment round. In the beginning of 2022, after its next round of funding, Dream Games was valued at $2.75B from investors.

Launch/funding: 2019; $467.5M

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