Swiss video games are sticking their tongue out with the pandemic

The largest exhibition dedicated to video games, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), has just ended. Two Swiss studios presented their new game, alongside announcements from Microsoft or Nintendo. A beautiful showcase for Swiss designers who suffered during the pandemic.

There had been no E3 in 2020 because of the Covid-19. This year, the organizers of the largest exhibition dedicated to video game in the world have bet everything on streaming video. For 4 days, fans were able to discover the first images of the upcoming blockbusters live on Youtube or Twitch.

In the multitude of games presented, two Zurich studios have slipped images of their latest creations. Okomotive had had some success with his first game FAR: Lone Sails, where you set off to discover a post-apocalyptic world on a machine that needs to be repaired and improved. He had received many awards, including the best Swiss game in 2019.

For this new component, FAR: changing tides, the Zurich developers offer you a contemplative game that will make you discover the remains of a submerged civilization, in the company of a boat that will become your friend.

>> Changing tides is complementary to FAR: Lone Sails

The Wandering Village, from another Zurich studio, Stray Fawn, invites you to build a village on the back of a huge beast. It will be about living in symbiosis with the animal, while developing yourself and trying to survive. Their first game, “Niche – a game of genetic survival”, was noticed and sold over 150,000 copies on the Steam platform.

>> The presentation of the first images of The Wandering Village at E3

Behind these presentations at a prestigious event like E3, independent Swiss studios have instead stuck their tongue out with the pandemic. Difficult to find funds during COVID.

“All international fairs were canceled in 2020. These fairs are important because they allow Swiss developers to find publishers and investors to make their games,” warns Sylvain Gardel, head of interactive media and design at Pro Helvetia.

The foundation supports the sector with 2 million francs per year (one million for interactive media and one million for design). Very quickly, Sylvain Gardel was alerted by video game developers.

Targeted assistance

“We quickly put in place tools to help the studios: a mentoring system to facilitate contact between Swiss developers and game publishers, but also marketing assistance for games that are more advanced in their development.”

As with movies, studios often need to find funding before starting work. And the development takes a long time, often 2-3 years, before presenting a new title to the public.

Yet video game sales have exploded with the lockdown. In 2020, Americans spent $ 57 billion. A record. “The boom in video games has especially benefited well-known games like Fortnite,” said Sylvain Gardel.

Farmer 2.0

“Swiss video games have managed to exist on the international scene”, estimates Yannick Rochat, co-founder of UNIL Gamelab. “They show great diversity given the scale of the country. While Switzerland brings popular simulation games, such as Farming Simulator and Transport Fever, to the market, there are also many more adventurous games in terms of international production, like Mundaun, Kids, Retimed, or even Unrailed! “

In Switzerland, a studio has long since emerged from anonymity. GIANTS Software employs 75 people between Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic. The studio announces that it will soon open a new branch in the United States.

It owes its success to a franchise that has become essential: Farming Simulator. This farming simulation, created in 2008, has sold over 25 million copies and now has its own world championship. About a hundred brands are fighting to see their machines modeled in the game.

Farming simulator 22 is cut out to be the Swiss blockbuster of the year. Its release is scheduled for the end of the year and now allows the use of more than 400 agricultural machines and tools.

>> Farming Simulator World Championship 2020

Pascal Wassmer

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