Bulgaria's video games market dates back to some of the earliest consoles, with local retailer and distributor Transfer Group starting out in 1990.
However, the nation's size means that the potential audience for video games is extremely concentrated, limiting the number of opportunities for newcomers.
Bulgaria is a small European country,” says Gloria Svircheva, PR executive at retailer and distributor Pulsar.
Most people live in the capital city of Sofia – nearly 1.3m [17 per cent of the population] – which means that publishers, retailers and distributors are mainly concentrated in the capital.”
PC and Mac games are the most popular titles, with a reasonable market for download and online games. Retail/distributor Transfer has partnered with Steam as part of Valve's official Cyber Caf programme, which gives retailers access to selected digital games.
Sadly the economic issues that face most European countries mean consumer spending is in jeopardy. Additionally, high unemployment rates – expected to be up to 19 per cent of the population by the end of the year – means there are less people able to buy games. This contributes to high levels of piracy.
The games market is relatively small, we have great problems with internet piracy and low standard of living,” says Svircheva.The popularity of MMOs is constantly high, as well as first person shooters and sports games.
At the same time we have great specialists in the field of web design and programming, which is an opportunity for game developers.”
There is already a strong development community with a number studios owned by larger games firms such as Crytek and Ubisoft. Independent Bulgarian studios include Haemimont Games, the team behind the Tropico and Grand Ages of Rome series, and Masthead Games, which is working on Interplay's Fallout Online.
GDP (per capita): $7,202
Capital City: Sofia
Multirama, Ozone, Plesio, Pulsar, Technomarket, Technopolis
Pulsar, Sony Bulgaria, Technomarket
Crytek Black Sea, Gameloft, Haemimont Games, Masthead Studios, Morgen Studios, Ubisoft Bulgaria
PUBLISHERS WITH A LOCAL OFFICE
Activision Blizzard, Capcom, Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, Konami, Namco Bandai, NCsoft, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Square Enix, Take-Two, Ubisoft