Hot topics

The fine art of making money

The creative and cultural industries are of key importance for modern economies. Slovenia is no exception with a thriving computer gaming scene, top designers and creators of leading computer graphics technologies.

Ever heard about Triternion? Most likely not – unless you are an avid gaming nerd. Triternion is a name of the company which launched Mordhau, a multiplayer medieval fighting game. A few days after its release in May 2019 Mordhau became a number one bestseller on Steam, the world’s largest online videogame marketplace. The company, founded by Slovenian programmer Marko Grgurovič, represents an excellent example of Slovenia’s creative industry.


In 2018, almost 30.000 enterprises were active in architecture, design, culture, software design and other areas belonging to the creative industry. That is 15 percent of the total number of business entities. The industry employed over 60.000 people, or 7 percent of the total number.


While this is not an unsubstantial number, these stats do not illustrate the immense potential of this area, which has become one of the driving forces of modern economies. The creative area opens opportunities unthinkable in terms of “classical” manufacturing industries. Take Outfit 7. Ten years ago, this small Slovenian company created the Talking Tom mobile app character. Seven years later the company was sold to Chinese investors for a sum exceeding 1 billion Us dollars. The price of local industrial champions seems puny in comparison. Slovenian home appliances group Gorenje, for example, was sold to Chinese Hisense a year later for “only” 300 million euros.


The total value of the global market for mobile app games only is estimated at 65 billion euros. It comes as no surprise that other Slovenian companies trying to emulate the success of Outfit 7. ASMR Slicing was created by Kranj based Tricky Tribe and was the most downloaded mobile game worldwide in May, with over 36.5 million installs. Tricky Tribe specializes in free apps – their biggest success before ASMR Slicing was Tinker Island.


We are speaking about Slovenia’s creative industry in the sense that the companies we mention are founded by Slovenians. Yet the game (pardon the pun) is played strictly on a global level with international players. Triternion’s team consists of creative people from Austria, Canada, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. Tricky Tribe develop apps which are published by Israeli company Crazy Labs.


A special case is that of Jernej Barbič. The Slovenian computer scientist from the town of Šempeter near the Italian border left for California back in 2001. In 2015 he co-founded Ziva Dynamics, which creates 3D animated characters closely resembling real physical beings. Ziva’s solutions have been used in Hollywood blockbusters like Captain Marvel, Aquaman, Jumanji, Primal, and Game of Thrones. Earlier this year the company received 7 million US dollars (around 6.4 million euros) of capital from investors like Grishin Robotics and Toyota AI companies. Barbič is a professor of computer sciences at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and has worked on improved models of 3D computer graphics. Before Ziva Dynamics, his solutions were already used in movies like Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.


Mobile apps and advanced computer graphic tricks may represent the technological forefront of modern creative industries. Yet modern and innovative approaches are possible even in traditional fields such as book publishing. Take Slovenian start-up Hooray Studios for example, they create unique personalized children’s books. Hooray Studios started back in 2014 as “four people working in a garage”. In 2019, they sold over 1,000,000 books in the USA, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia. The company employs 140 people in Slovenia, the USA, and Britain. Their total sales have reached 27 million euros – over 100 percent over 2018’s revenues.


Slovenian jewelry and furniture designer Lara Bohinc is working in London was awarded an MBE order of the British Empire for her contributions. Nika Zupanc, another Slovenian designer, became recognized worldwide with the launch of the Lolita lamp a decade ago. We could go on and describe additional examples from the high-tech virtual world to the more traditional “brick and mortar” fields like design, architecture, and art. But from the companies and individuals presented here we may already confirm the notion that the creative industry is one of the pillars of economy.


Mordhau by Triternion

Not for feeble nerves: bestselling Mordhau computer game by Slovenian company Triternion.

Photo: Triternion