Spanish vidgame biz at crossroads

Catalonian producers seek to expand reach

For the first time ever, vidgame and console sales in Spain ($2.14 billion) tripled theatrical B.O. returns ($950 million) last year. Unfortunately for Spain, 95% of the market went to foreign publishers.

Within Catalonia, the local vidgame industry finds itself at a crossroads between euphoria at software sales and concern at production levels.

However, some Catalan companies are managing to achieve overseas distribution for titles. Recently, Barcelona-based Gammick Entertainment partnered with Minneapolis’ Destineer to publish and distribute several Gammick titles in the U.S., including “Animal Boxing.”

Also, cell games producer Digital Legends Entertainment is developing adventure-fantasy game “Kroll” to play on Apple’s iPhone.

“The challenge is to acquire a capacity to manage large projects — we have no tradition of making blockbuster videogames in Catalonia,” says Daniel Sanchez-Crespo, founder of indie studio Novarama, the creator of “Music Monstars,” which is due out in November.

International companies such as Sweden’s Grin (developer of a vidgame based on actioner “Wanted”), cell games publisher Gameloft and French giant Ubisoft all run Catalonia-based offices. Catalonia remains a healthy market.

“Recent history demonstrates that the videogame industry is largely recessionproof,” explains Ed Barton, who analyzes the sector for Screen Digest.

But piracy remains a concern, resulting in an estimated $220 million loss for the software industry in Spain last year, with nearly 14% of the Spanish police operations against vidgame piracy targeted at Catalonia.

The average Catalan consumer legally spends around $176 a year on vidgames, or roughly 29% of their leisure budget, mainly on sports games.

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