With a fourfold expansion of Lithuania’s gamedev community over the last two years, and with GameOn 2015, the biggest gaming expo in the Baltics about to start, now is the perfect time to take a look at how Vilnius has become one of the hottest gamedev hubs in Europe. Comparing the business conditions for gamedev in Vilnius to some of its European competitors tells a clear story; that Vilnius offers cost-competitiveness alongside quality infrastructure, including the fastest public WiFi in the world.
Europe has long been considered the prime region for game development businesses, thanks to its access to the huge European and Russian markets in video and social network games. We have chosen four gamedev hotspots to compare with Vilnius; London, Berlin, Tallinn and Helsinki.
When choosing a location for a gamedev company, the key questions are what can the city offer for its investors, and what kind of business environment will new companies find there? Of course, there is also the inevitable question of overheads, with staffing and rental costs of key importance. Corporate tax is another important factor, as is access to effective, fast and reliable broadband infrastructure.
To help you compare the different locations, we have put together some tables with key data for these areas in Vilnius and the four other European hot-spots.
So anyone looking for a prime European location for their gamedev company needs to bear these points in mind.
– The Baltics are best for setting up. According to Doingbusiness.org, the UK, Lithuania and Estonia have the simplest procedures for establishing a new business. In the UK you will need five days, whilst in both Baltic States it only takes three days to start up a business. In Estonia administration costs are double those in Lithuania.
– Get more office space for your money. In terms of office costs, the Baltic countries again come out best, with the most affordable rental prices found in Tallinn and Vilnius. In both cities, office space is available for less than 16 Euros per square meter. In contrast, the most expensive offices are in London.
– Tax systems are hard to compare. Whilst the tax environments in each country appear broadly similar, it is difficult to make direct comparisons as overall taxation systems are different. For example, in Lithuania corporate tax is 15%, but this can be lower if the company is small (with up to 10 employees and a taxable income not exceeding EUR 290 000 per year). In Estonia the top rate is higher at 21%, but some businesses benefit from the 0% taxation on retained earnings.
– Europe has top IT talent, but salaries vary. One of the most significant differences between the European hotspots is the cost of hiring skilled IT specialists, as data from Payscale.com shows. Vilnius is the clear leader in terms of the competitiveness of salaries for top software engineers. The same employee in Berlin costs almost three times as much, and in London almost four times.
– Find the speed you need to succeed. With the fastest public WiFi anywhere in the world, and significantly faster broadband speeds than the other cities, Vilnius definitely comes out top for infrastructure. All the cities are in the world’s top 20 for public WiFi, but Berlin offers the slowest WiFi and broadband out of the cities compared.
So, there are five clear reasons why Lithuania, and Vilnius in particular, is leading the way in Europe for gamedev business conditions.
1. Top quality specialists on competitive salaries
2. The fastest internet infrastructure
3. Streamlined processes for starting a company
4. Growth-oriented tax conditions
5. More office space for your money
Having such a strong ecosystem clearly shows Lithuania’s commitment to growing its already thriving startup community, and becoming the hottest hub for gamedev in Europe.
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