The Belgian newspaper, L’Echo, has reported on the recent opening of a co-working space for game development studios in Brussels. The space, located within the Dansaert business center, was established by games.brussels, a professional association for video game creators based in Brussels.
The co-working space is already at full capacity, thanks to the support of the City of Brussels, which was contingent on achieving several objectives, including attracting at least five studios and twenty workers to the space.
According to Guillaume Bouckaert, one of the three founders of games.brussels, the gaming industry is thriving in Belgium, with a turnover of €88 million in 2021 and 110 companies, including about ten in Brussels, representing a 70% increase between 2021 and 2022.
However, despite the growth of the industry, Brussels lags behind other cities in game development. “One of the major problems in Brussels is that there is no budget for video games,” said Sébastien Le Touze, co-founder of games.brussels. “Rather than finding money for developers, our approach was to help them save money by providing a local co-working space with rates that are three to four times lower than the average co-working space.”
Brussels is a land of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) when it comes to game development. Small teams work for several years on independent games that are then released for download on platforms like Steam.
Because of its hyper-specialization and the events organized twice a month, the co-working space serves as an incubator, according to its founders. Collaboration and the exchange of expertise are paramount, whether it be on technical, aesthetic, or ideological aspects of projects or on ways to test games. There is no sense of competition, just emulation, due to the diversity of the creative identities of the participants.
The next major event for games.brussels will be the Big Brotaru in May. Developers will pitch their games, controllers in hand, to foreign investors on the stage of the Palace cinema. To achieve this, the association benefits from the contacts and financial support of Hub.Brussels, which last year transformed its screen.brussels cluster into play.brussels to integrate video games more fully.
By providing space at reduced prices, Fabian Maingain, the alderman for Economic Affairs, hopes to contribute to the federation of the gaming sector in Brussels. “The challenge today is to put an end to the talent drain that cannot find outlets here. This place must help games.brussels keep studios in Brussels. In terms of support, the next step should be the creation of a specific regional fund like in Flanders. Brussels should start with one million if we want to be credible. Game development is slow, and we need to be able to finance the first few years of a studio until the production of a first demo.”