The Video Game Industry Surpasses Cinema and Music in Turnover
The video game industry has become a powerhouse, surpassing the combined turnover of cinema and music, according to data from the Digital Entertainment and Retail Association (ERA). In fact, it accounted for 42.1% of the total income of the entertainment industry last year, with a growth of 2.3% compared to the previous year. This trend is also evident in Spain.
Spain’s Video Game Sector Shows Impressive Growth
The Spanish Association of Video Games (Aevi) has revealed that the turnover of the video game sector in Spain reached 2012 million euros, with a growth of 12.09% compared to the previous year. This significant increase now represents 0.11% of the national GDP. The sector is also contributing to employment generation, with a lower unemployment rate compared to other industries and academic fields.
Currently, there are over 600 video game studios in Spain, employing more than 6,000 people. Video games have become the top choice for leisure activities in the country, with 50% of Spaniards between the ages of 6 and 64 being gamers. The Council of the European Union has even recognized the video game industry as one of the priority creative sectors.
The longevity and success of many Spanish games further demonstrate the strength of the industry. The list of best-selling Spanish games includes titles that have been around for over 20 years, such as “Metroid Dread” and “GRIS,” both of which have received prestigious awards like the Game Award and BAFTA.
1. Deadlight: A Zombie Apocalypse Adventure
Tequila Works, a renowned Spanish studio, made a mark in the industry with their game “Deadlight.” Released in 2012 for PC and Xbox 360, this horror and platform game takes place in Seattle during a zombie apocalypse. Players take on the role of a former forest guard searching for his family.
The game’s side-scrolling style, reminiscent of classics like “Another World” and “Prince of Persia,” along with its atmospheric setting similar to “Limbo,” contributed to its popularity. “Deadlight” almost reached 5 million units sold in 2021, according to the CEO of Tequila Works.
2. RiME: An Enchanting Puzzle Adventure
Tequila Works strikes again with “RiME,” a game that has gained international recognition with 4 million sales. Released in 2017 for multiple platforms, including PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, “RiME” started its development alongside “Deadlight.” It evolved into an open-world puzzle game with breathtaking visuals inspired by the likes of “Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away,” “Jason and the Argonauts,” as well as the works of Joaquin Sorolla and Dalí.
The game follows the journey of a protagonist trying to escape from an island and break a curse. With no narrator, the environment and music guide players through this captivating adventure.
3. Metroid Dread: A Highly Acclaimed Action-Adventure
In 2021, MercurySteam, known for their work on “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” and “Metroid: Samus Returns,” released “Metroid Dread.” This 2D action-adventure game is the fifth installment in the iconic “Metroid” saga and the first to feature high-definition graphics.
The incredible design by Jacobo Luengo, Carlos Zarzuela, and José María Navarro showcases their dedication to the Samus saga. The game’s side-scrolling and platform gameplay, combined with non-linear exploration, have made it one of the highest-rated titles in the “Metroid” series. It was even named the best video game of 2021 by Time magazine.
“Metroid Dread” achieved remarkable sales, becoming the best-selling video game on Amazon in the United States and the United Kingdom. It also received accolades such as the Golden Joystick Awards and a Game Award. As of July, it has already sold 3 million copies.
4. Imagine Being a Fashion Designer: A Surprising Success
In 2007, the “Imagine Being” series of games became a sensation, and one of them, “Imagine Being a Fashion Designer,” sold an impressive 2,810,000 copies. What many may not know is that this title was developed by a Spanish studio called Virtual Toys.
The game allows players to create their own clothing line, choosing patterns, colors, and even styling the models’ hair and makeup. Its success speaks for itself, with over two million people enjoying the game.
5. Blasphemous: A Unique and Artistic Game
“Blasphemous” stands out for its distinctive artistic style. A single frame of the game is enough to recognize it instantly. This metroidvania game, with influences from “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night” and the atmosphere of Holy Week in Seville, has captivated players.
The game’s artistic direction is its defining feature, creating a memorable and immersive experience. “Blasphemous” has garnered a dedicated fan base and continues to be celebrated for its unique style.
Blasphemous: A Spanish Gem in the Gaming World
The Game Kitchen, a game development studio based in Seville, Spain, has created a masterpiece called Blasphemous. This game pays homage not only to the intricate and disturbing religious iconography but also to Spanish folklore and the art of renowned painters such as Velázquez, Zurbarán, and Goya. Originally funded through Kickstarter, Blasphemous has already sold over 2.5 million copies, and its highly anticipated sequel, Blasphemous 2, is expected to surpass this figure.
6. Commandos 2: Men of Courage
In 2001, Pyro Studios, a Spanish game development company, released Commandos 2: Men of Courage, the third installment in the Commandos series. Many players are unaware that this iconic game was developed by a Spanish team. The studio, founded by Ignacio and Javier Pérez Dolset in 1996, aimed to compete with international studios, and they succeeded. Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, the first game in the series, became a bestseller in 1998.
While Commandos 2: Men of Courage did not perform well on consoles, its PC version sold over 2.5 million copies, securing its place as one of the top-selling games of its time.
7. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is another game developed by a Spanish team that often goes unnoticed. This game, which revived the Castlevania saga, features a hack and slash style and focuses on the tormented protagonist Gabriel Belmont. Developed by Mercury Steam in collaboration with Kojima Productions, the game was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013.
With its outstanding art design and a captivating soundtrack composed by Scar Araujo, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow sold over 2,107,000 units, thanks to the contributions of renowned figures such as Hideo Kojima and actors Patrick Stewart, Robert Carlyle, and Jason Isaacs.
8. Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines
In 1998, Pyro Studios released Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, the first game in the Commandos series. This stealth and real-time strategy game had the highest budget in the Spanish gaming industry at that time. It sold over 2 million copies, propelling Pyro Studios to the forefront of the national video game industry and ensuring the continuation of the series for several more years.
9. Youtubers Life 2
Spain, known for its successful YouTubers, became the birthplace of a YouTube simulator game. U-Play Online, an independent studio based in Barcelona, developed both the first installment and its sequel, Youtubers Life 2. Released in 2021 for various platforms, including PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and mobile phones, Youtubers Life 2 features real YouTubers such as PewDiePie, Rubius, Vegetta777, and WillyRex. The game has already surpassed 2 million copies sold.
10. Youtubers Life
The first installment of Youtubers Life, also developed by U-Play Online, was released in 2016 and achieved great success, selling 1,400,000 units. This business simulator allows players to create and manage their own YouTube career, including content creation, education, and social life. With the option to sign brand deals and upgrade equipment, Youtubers Life offers a comprehensive experience as a YouTuber.
11. Imagine being a vet
Not all games are meant for mature audiences, and Imagine being a vet proves that children’s titles can be highly successful. Developed by Virtual Toys and released in 2007, this game allows players to experience the life of a veterinarian. With the ability to build a clinic, diagnose and treat diseases, and interact with pet owners, Imagine being a vet sold over 1,040,000 copies.
In 2016, Lince Works, a Spanish studio, launched Aragami, a stealth adventure game featuring a ninja with supernatural abilities. The game was released for various platforms and has sold over a million copies. The success of Aragami led to a prequel and a second installment, expanding the saga’s reach to more players.
Moonlighter: A Successful Action RPG Game
The Spanish studio Digital Sun has created an action RPG game called Moonlighter, which combines elements from popular games like Harvest Moon, Rogue Legacy, and The Binding of Isaac. The game was released in 2018 for various platforms including PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, Microsoft Windows, and macOS. It later became available on Nintendo Switch. Moonlighter started as a Kickstarter project with a modest goal of $40,000, but it exceeded expectations by raising over $130,000. The game quickly gained popularity and even topped the sales charts on Steam the day after its release. To date, Moonlighter has sold over a million copies.
GRIS: A Visual and Emotional Adventure
GRIS, developed by the Spanish studio Nomada Studio, is an adventure platform game that won the Best Impact Game award at the 2019 Game Awards. The game tells the story of a young woman navigating a world in ruins while dealing with the loss of her voice. What sets GRIS apart is its unique artistic style, featuring handmade watercolors that were scanned and implemented into the Unity engine. The game relies on visual storytelling and a changing color palette to convey the narrative, without the need for dialogues or texts. GRIS was released in 2018 for Nintendo Switch, macOS, Microsoft Windows, and PS4, and it has sold over a million units.
Commandos 3: Destination Berlin: A Stealth Mission Masterpiece
Commandos 3: Destination Berlin, released in 2003, brought a multitude of graphic improvements to the popular Commandos series. Developed by Pyro Studios, this installment took advantage of 3D technology in a way that hadn’t been done before in the saga. The game features 12 levels spread across 3 campaigns, offering players challenging stealth missions. Each playable character in Commandos 3 has unique abilities, allowing players to tackle missions in their own style. The game sold close to a million copies and will be receiving an HD Remaster version in 2022, along with Commandos 2: Men of Courage.
Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty: Tactical Gameplay at Its Best
Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty, released in 1999, is the second installment in the Commandos saga. This game introduced challenging tactical gameplay that would become a trademark of the series. Players take on the role of commandos completing infiltration and sabotage missions during World War II. The game added new abilities and weapons to the characters, acting as an expansion of the first game, Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines. Despite its improvements, Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty sold 822,000 copies, falling short of the original game’s success.
InviZimals: A Unique Augmented Reality Experience
InviZimals, developed by Novarama, is a game that stands out for its innovative approach to augmented reality and virtual creature capture. The game received several awards, including the 2009 City of Barcelona Award for Technological Innovation. InviZimals combines real-world exploration with the capture of mysterious creatures that can only be seen through the PSP camera. Players train their creatures and engage in exciting battles. Despite not reaching the popularity of games like Pokémon GO, InviZimals sold 790,000 copies, thanks in part to its memorable advertising campaign.
Commandos: Strike Force: A Risky Experiment
Commandos: Strike Force, released in 2006, was an experimental entry in the Commandos series. Developed by Pyro Studios, this game took a different approach by incorporating a first-person view. It combined the stealth and tactics of the series with first-person shooter elements, similar to games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. Commandos: Strike Force sold 700,000 copies, although it didn’t reach the sales numbers of its predecessors. Despite the risks taken with its gameplay, the game offered a fresh experience within a familiar historical setting for fans of the franchise.
PC Ftbol 6.0: A Soccer Management Simulation
PC Ftbol 6.0, released in 1998, is a highly regarded installment in the sports management video game series developed by Dinamic Multimedia. The game stands out for its in-depth soccer team management simulation, allowing players to make strategic decisions and experience the challenges of running a soccer club. PC Ftbol 6.0 was praised for its authenticity and depth, becoming a benchmark in its genre. The game sold 600,000 copies and remains a memorable experience for fans of football and video games.
Annie Amber: A Unique Virtual Reality Experience
Annie Amber, developed by Pantumaca Barcelona, is a virtual reality game that offers an interesting and immersive experience. Released in 2016, the game has sold over half a million copies. Although not as widely known as other titles on this list, Annie Amber captivates players with its unique gameplay and captivating storytelling. It showcases the potential of virtual reality as a medium for creating memorable gaming experiences.
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