The rise of the Finnish game industry

The study (available in Finnish only) is about the development of the Finnish game industry from early 80's to 2013. During that time the Finnish game industry has grown from no existing to the biggest content export industry of Finland.

This growth has taken place solely inside the field of entertainment game genres, although learning games and gamification have also emerged during the recent years. According to Neogames estimates, in the year 2013 the turnover of the industry grew to EUR 900 million and it's over 200 companies employ appr. 2 500 professionals.

The study was commissioned by Tekes and executed by Neogames Finland Association, The Hub of the Finnish Game Industry. Neogames has a long experience about development of the game industry in Finland. To maintain objectivity of the study, several Finnish game industry veterans and opinion leaders were interviewed during the process.

The main objective of this study is to help understand the nature of fast changing environment of the game industry from technology, business, distribution and marketing point of view, but also shed light to development path of the Finnish game Industry.

The soaring birds

The roots of the Finnish game industry are in the recreational enthusiast scene of early 80's. The first commercial games were developed in the mid 80's. However, it was only the success story beginning from Angry Birds by Rovio in 2009, which created the global interest towards the Finnish game industry and its growth potential. Rovio's success also created a wave of investments which helped the Finnish game industry to continue to grow.

Another significant case is Supercell, established in 2010. Its games Hay Day followed by Clash of Clans became record breaking top grossing hits in 2012–2013. This success furthermore strengthened global interest toward the Finnish game industry. Supercell's current title Boom Beach shows signs of great success as well.

Reasons behind the success

However, the basic ingredients of the success date back to the history of industry.

Nowadays Finnish game industry is very mobile oriented. Over 80% of Finnish game developers see mobile as their primary platform and unlike in many other countries only less 5% of game developers develop games to web and online platforms. Also the amount of PC and console developers is quite low, but since they have had significant impact to the development of industry, some of PC and console related topics are covered.

The study also points out some significant strategic decisions and development which have affected the direction and success of the Finnish game industry.

According to this study, the main competitive advantages of Finnish game industry are: strong gaming culture and co-operative spirit (e.g. demoscene, Assembly, Game Jams), excellent technological know-how especially in mobile platforms (partly due to Nokia's strong presence), functional industry networks (e.g. IGDA, Neogames), best practice sharing and public R&D funding attracting foreign investments (mainly by Tekes). Currently Tekes has a programme, Skene Games Refuled, dedicated solely to the gama industry. Also the small size of domestic market and flexibility to adapt changes in business environment can be seen as competitive advantage.

Download the study (pdf, in Finnish only)

Kaj Nordgren

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