Which are the hottest cities in Europe in 2021 for esports and videogaming? The great thing about gaming is that even smaller cities can compete with the larger metropolises, and in fact, the European scene is dominated by lesser-known towns. These are our 4 city picks to look out for in the coming year.
St Julian’s, Malta
This sleepy seaside resort has been heavily promoted by the Maltese government in recent years as a contender for gaming capital of the Mediterranean. At first, tax breaks were used to entice gaming operators such as Swedish giants Mr Green. And up until the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malta Vibes CS: GO tournament at the Eden Arena was fast becoming one of the premier events on the European circuit, with a prize pot of over $400,000. With the government of Malta prioritizing Esports as part of their tourism recovery plan in the following decade, we see St Julian’s as the next European hot spot for gaming.
Poland is the undisputed rising star in games development, with only the Tokyo stock exchange boasting more listed gaming companies than Warsaw by the start of 2021. And yet, the beating heart of Poland’s “gamedev” sector is the smaller southern city of Katowice. The city’s iconic Spodek arena hosts annual ESL Majors, with the 2019 CS: GO tournament enjoying a million-dollar purse. It’s a creative town too, with the Economics Department of the local university running one of the most highly regarded gaming entrepreneurship courses in the world.
The city of Malmö is only the third largest in Sweden (Stockholm and Gothenburg rank first and second, respectively). And yet, Malmö dominates the Swedish gaming industry, with over 30 studios based in the town. The largest and most well-known is of course Massive Entertainment, whose release of Tom Clancy’s The Division in 2016 earned the company $300 million in its first week. With other mega studios such as Candy Crush developer King having a presence in Malmö, as well as promising smaller start-ups such as Midnight Hub, the city is set to continue dominating the Scandinavian gaming world for the rest of the decade.
Dundee, United Kingdom
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Scottish city of Dundee was known for “jam, jute, and journalism”. These days, only the journalism remains, but the city on the banks of the Tay has also carved out a niche as a major video games development hub. The original Grand Theft Auto was built here in the mid-90’s by DMA Design (now known as Rockstar North), and the city’s tech park is now home to over 40 game developers. But what really drives Dundee’s gaming industry is the presence of Abertay University, the first in the world to pioneer a video game design course.
Which of these smaller European cities do you think will continue to punch above their weight in 2021? Let us know in the comments below.