Dear Hendrik Klindworth,
dear Eike Klindworth,
dear Michael Zillmer,
ladies and gentlemen,
InnoGames turns ten today. For almost as long, it has contributed to making Hamburg one of Germany’s most important games industry locations. It is therefore my pleasure to be able to celebrate this important anniversary together with all of you here today.
Three years ago, we met for the opening of your new offices here in Hammerbrook. Even then, you were already a cornerstone of the Hamburg games industry, boasting 330 employees from 25 countries. And to this day, that hasn’t changed – just the opposite! With an annual turnover of 130 million euros last year and the participation of the Swedish Modern Times Group, you continue to build on your successes of the past.
Let’s take a look back. You launched your first online games as far back as 2003. The browser game Tribal Wars, or “Die Stämme” in German, which began as a hobby, thrilled not only your private circle of friends, but, two years later, 40,000 other players as well.
The hobby quickly became a profession and, another two years later, a start-up – even if that term wasn’t as commonly used back then as it is today. InnoGames was born! Then in 2009, Grepolis joined the market, and is today one of the most popular online strategy games around.
The slogan for Grepolis, by the way, is “Build a mighty metropolis.” Your adventure begins on a small, peaceful island also inhabited by other players. The goal is to establish a new city and collect initial resources. “Help your city blossom into a magnificent metropolis” is your challenge. It sounds like the perfect “city mayor game” to me – even if it lacks the housing, schools, and childcare facilities that are indispensable these days.
In 2013, the year “Forge of Empires” was released, the number of registered players swelled to more than 100 million.
In other words: a continuous success story of annually increasing turnover records and profitable growth. This is anything but a matter of course, as we have been able to observe these recent months.
Hamburg provided targeted support to the games industry early on, the first German federal state to do so.
Right from the beginning, gamecity:Hamburg was part of this. This initiative from nextMedia began in 2003 with the goal of meeting other media at eye level. This wasn’t primarily about funding, but about quite ordinary things such as organizing a trade-fair booth for gamers.
gamecity also helped InnoGames to settle and relocate to its new premises. To this day, they consider themselves a caretaker for the games industry – facilitating contacts and opening doors. Their success speaks for itself. By now, almost 4,000 people in Hamburg work for companies in the games industry. Three of the five most important online games companies were founded here and are still located in the city.
But it’s not only the fact that these players are literally quite close to each other that draws so much of the talent that we call media workers here from around the world. It is also the diversity of media companies based in Hamburg. Recording studios, graphic artists, marketing specialists, plus Facebook, Twitter, Google and XING all operate here, forming a unique ecology that promotes reciprocal learning. Micropayments, free-to-play models and community building are solutions developed by games companies for challenges that also occupy the press, film, and music industries. The games sector is clearly an important component of Hamburg’s content industry, which we have promoted from early on and to which we are still going to be committed in the future.
Quick adaptability, especially on a technical level, is a central characteristic that has made your company what it is today. The transition from browser-based games to mobile games is well underway. You know the details of the challenge of delivering content and graphics for all the end devices and platforms on the market today far better than I do. A constant exchange of information between industry players and access to new talent are essential requirements for remaining relevant.
We are happy to help you there. As part of the overall Digital City strategy, ahoi.digital is a platform for developing cooperation in computer sciences between the four Hamburg universities, and creating an interface between business and society. With the GamecityLab and Games Master programs at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg has created unique training opportunities while also continuing to target the promotion of start-up companies. Within this context, I’m particularly happy about the use of your business premises for a start-up floor – assistance for start-ups from a start-up, you might say. Such premises are important, particularly when they are associated with good mentoring and networking opportunities with established companies. Within the young games industry, InnoGames is without a doubt an established player.
Ladies and gentlemen,
the digital start-up scene in Hamburg is highly exciting and interesting. Helping create better visibility and greater networking opportunities for start-ups –we as a city will continue to work hard on these tasks, which includes providing financial means. Our InnoRampUp program supports innovative companies with grants. The InnoStarter Fonds II has been restructured and endowed with 12 million euros. The planned growth fund will provide venture capital in the future. But private investors are also welcome to make contributions.
A positive example of this is the participation and increased stake of the Modern Times Group in InnoGames, which we learned about recently. With turnover growths of over twenty percent over the last three years and a strong partner such as MTG at their side, I’m confident that InnoGames will continue to play a prominent role in positioning Hamburg as a leading games industry city over the coming years. It would certainly make me very happy – and now I wish you all a wonderful anniversary celebration!