At an estimated 2.83 billion U.S. dollars in revenue, video games accounted for over 47 percent of digital media revenue in Italy in 2023. While these figures could not compete with leading European gaming markets such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, Italy’s gaming sector has grown in leaps and bounds over the past five years. This growth spurt was facilitated by a shift in the public perception of games and a range of government incentives, such as the recent introduction of tax credits for video game developers. Recently, Italy’s video game industry has also experienced rapid growth, and dynamic transformations and what had previously been considered a niche sector, has become a burgeoning part of the country’s creative landscape.
Who are the Italian gamers and what do they like?
The number of video gamers in Italy exploded during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 and 2021, peaking at 39 million, only to drop dramatically to 34.3 million in 2022. However, the number of Italian gamers recovered again in 2023 and is set to surpass its pandemic peak in 2025. Young gamers make up a large share of Italy’s gaming population, with players aged up to 24 years accounting for nearly half of the gaming audiences in 2022.
With Italian soccer being world-renowned and the most popular sport in the country, it is hardly a revelation that the sports game FIFA 23 was the best-selling game in Italy in 2022, with its predecessor FIFA 22 ranking third in terms of unit sales. Other popular titles during that year included shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Grand Theft Auto 5, and Elden Ring.
Smartphones were the most popular gaming devices in Italy – more than six in ten online users in Italy stated that they gamed via smartphone, followed by gaming consoles, which were used by three in ten respondents.
Additionally, mobile games hold a particularly special spot in the Italian gaming landscape, as the introduction of gaming apps in the early 2000 was part of the first push of the then-fledgling Italian game development scene.
Spotlight: the gaming industry in Italy
Considering the rich history of art and culture in Italy, it may come as a surprise that the country’s video gaming industry has only recently started to come into its own. In 2022, approximately 2,400 people were working as game developers in Italy, representing a massive 50 percent increase from 2021.
This growth of the gaming industry was in no small part fueled by the Italian government’s 2021 introduction of tax deductions of up to 1 million euros, equal to 25 percent of development costs, which was specifically aimed at gaming companies. This move mirrors similar financial incentives of France and the UK, although those two markets by far outstrip Italy in terms of video game production value and volume.
Despite the still comparatively modest output of the Italian gaming industry so far, gaming audiences in Italy feel passionate about video games, and the Italian gaming scene hosts several major industry conferences, such as Milan Games Week, Lucca Comics & Games, and the First Playable in Florence, which also presents the Italian Video Game Awards.
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