Forget California and Japan …

Forget California and Japan, is Poland Really a New Hub of Activity in the Gaming World?

When you think of the world of gaming and its development, you tend to think instantly of some of the biggest locations associated with that landscape, like tech-focused California and forward-thinking Japan. Japan was an early leader in the world of video gaming, with two of the biggest early names in gaming, SEGA and Nintendo, both boasting Japanese roots.

In contrast to Japan and California, you might not think that Poland is a country that has much to do with gaming, especially as the country was still emerging from Soviet rule when Sonic the Hedgehog became the official mascot of SEGA in 1991. However, in 2017, Poland is muscling its way to the forefront of the gaming world. For evidence of this, take a quick glance at the sheer number of gaming conventions that have started to take place there, including Digital Dragon, Poznan Game Arena, and Pixel Heaven. Not only this, but the world of eSports has hit Poland in a big way; if you ask eSports fans to talk about relevant places, you may well find that the town that comes to mind for many of them is Katowice, a town that until recently would have had no relevance to the world of gaming but is now one of the biggest names in the world of eSports.

 

A Change in Customs

While trips to Krakow are still one of the biggest draws to Poland, and wooden toys are still one of the main presents to bring back, gaming is starting to make itself a hugely important reason to visit Poland, as exemplified by the acceptance of eSports as an official sport by the government, a move that highlights how the whole country is embracing its new gaming status.

While of course the fabulous culture and traditions of Poland always justify a visit, with cultural traditions surrounding seeing a nun and receiving good luck (trzymam kciuki), all lovely ways to explore Polish culture, the country itself is starting to embrace a more modern trend by creating an expected 345 million fan base for eSports.

The kind of numbers being talked about might seem fanciful, but the fact that Poland hosted an eSports event that drew 173,000 spectators in Katowice at Poland’s Intel Extreme Masters shows that, not only can the sport bring in a lot of visitors to the town, but that Poland is well placed to capitalise upon a sport that some are predicting might become bigger than football.

What are the Conventions Bringing?

While eSports is already driving the gaming world forward, the wider world of conventions is helping to capitalise on this success. The Digital Dragons conference in 2017 got 1,500+ attendees, and it is likely to only end up getting bigger and better in 2018. This builds on the fact that Poland is 23rd in the world already in terms of revenue from video game sales, with a revenue figure that already stands at nearly half a billion US.

The 2018 convention will, of course, look at the developments in the world of mobile gaming, as well as the new tech leaps about to enter the gaming world mainstream – augmented reality and virtual reality – but what it will also need to consider are the changes that are happening in terms of crossover gaming and the world of retro-themed gaming.

 

Arguably, crossover gaming, where different genres are intermingled to create a hybrid, first started when casino games started to appear in role playing games. We can even see it used way back in the Alex the Kidd games, when the in-game decider of rock, paper and scissors brought the game to life. Recent additions like Battlejack have brought these hybrid games back to the very forefront of gaming development.

Retro Revival

Indeed, with freemium games showing that gamers are prepared to pay for add-on options to games to help improve their experience, there seems to be no reason why skill-based games like blackjack cannot be intermingled with other video games.

In the future, would you bet against the idea of the new mobile version of The Sims from EA containing a few in-game extra games that you need to pay to access, or a new version of GTA from Rockstar allowing you to start paying more money to access a range of extra games within the main game format, rather than simply allowing you to play a few little add-on ones like going on the shooting range?

With Atari looking to release their first console in nearly 20 years in spring 2018 and the world of Mario and Sonic still hugely popular despite being out of date compared to some of the technology that is now available, and even the fabled Nokia 3310 making a comeback so that gamers can enjoy the game Snake, there is a retro spring in the step of the gaming world.

The world of gaming might be looking back, but Poland is not. Gaming conventions, eSports, and possibly having the chance to emulate countries like Latvia who have embraced other elements of iGaming, mean that while retro may make headway alongside other gaming trends, Poland is the place to look to as gaming moves forward and continues to help diversify the reasons tourists visit in the first place.