Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, recently published an overview of the astonishing rise of the Finnish gaming industry in recent years. Famous for being the home of smash hits such as Clash of Clans and Angry Birds, Helsinki alone produced four of the top ten grossing iOS App Store games in November of last year. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Between 2004 and 2013, the compound annual growth rate in the Finnish gaming industry has reached 39.5%. From a turnover of €87 million in 2009 to an estimated €800 million in 2013, the total value of the Finnish gaming industry is expected to reach €2.15 billion by the end of the year. In other words the Finnish gaming industry is “growing significantly faster than the global game market”.
This has led to a influx in investments and acquisitions, with Supercell notably bringing in $130 million in 2011. Gaming giants EA and Unity have also established a presence in the country. There are now an estimated 2200 employees in the Finnish gaming industry and this is expected to rise to 5000 by 2020.
For starters, whereas in countries such as the UK government support hasn’t always been forthcoming for the gaming industry, Finland is a different matter. Only last year, Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen had his nails painted at Mobile App Developer conference Slush to support the launch of GuitarBots. Support for the gaming industry in Finland starts at the top, but that’s not the only factor.
Finland is renowned for the quality of its education system and this also applies to gaming. Oula University of Applied Sciences recently set up the Oula Game Lab. Prestigious universities including Kajaani University of Applied Sciences and the Aalto University also offer specialised gaming courses.
Add to this a strong culture of gaming and game development and a high level of balance between costs and the quality of facilities and workforce in Finland and it quickly becomes clear that the country’s success is not a flash in the pan. It doesn’t hurt that there is also a well-established culture of cooperation between Finnish gaming companies, either.
A key component of maintaining success in the present involves keeping an eye on the future. Turnover is expected to “multiply” by 2020. Tekes alone contributes “several million Euros” each year to the Finnish gaming industry as part of its €600 million budget to promote “technological breakthroughs, as well as service-related, design, business and social innovations.” Other organisations such as the government agency Invest in Finland and the non-profit Neogames have been established as resources to help the industry thrive and to allow outside investors and developers to add further expertise and financial muscle to the mix. The future of gaming in Finland is bright.