Finnish gaming industry proceeds to next level. The Finnish gaming industry is enjoying success in a demanding international market.
The Finnish gaming industry is apparently bucking the recession. While many industries have been hobbled by falling sales and massive redundancies, the gaming industry continues to grow. In 2008, turnover for the industry increased by over 11%. Employment increased by 6%. Even more companies joined the market: the number of gaming firms grew by over 4%.
KooPee Hiltunen, Director of industry group Neogames, lists some of the main factors behind the strong development of the Finnish gaming industry. “Technological and content know-how of the companies,” he says. “Also excellent price-quality ratio of gaming production, delivery reliability and companies are willing and able to innovate.”
Jani Kahrama of Secret Exit points to the high quality of Finnish games as a reason for the industry’s success. “Publishers and investors should really take a closer look at the games being developed in Finland and consider what can be achieved with a small extremely-talented team versus a larger cheaper one,” he explains.
Finnish gaming companies focus on the big overseas markets. 77% of the products’ end users live in either the United States or Western Europe. Only 9% live in Finland. Also, there is an enormous focus on research and development (R&D). Spending on R&D equalled 25% of turnover in 2007. Then there is the focus on fast-growing platforms. Almost 30% of companies focus on the exploding mobile game market. 36% focus on the largest category, personal computer and console games.
“We are able to take a chance on new opportunities in the gaming business as we don’t have any old industry infrastructure to slow us down,” points out Housemarque CEO Ilari Kuittinen. “Also, we have the typical benefits of being a well-developed country in Northern Europe, such as good education and standard of living.” “Many great things seem to be bubbling over and quite a few companies seem to have a chance to make breakthroughs.”
Public support for the gaming industry has also played a role. Over half of all companies have received funding from Tekes, either for research and development, exports, or both. Besides Tekes, the national financing company Finnvera, the Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture AVEK and even the regional group Northern Film and Media Foundation offers support.
Finns win big at games developers conference in San Francisco
FINNISH companies were well-represented at this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco late in March. GDC is the largest annual gathering of professional video game developers. The event has an expo, networking events and awards ceremonies. Almost every gaming company with an international presence attends the conference. Not only were there a number of Finns present, some of them took home one of the main prizes.
“We had nine exhibitors and in total around 20 Finnish companies,” saysKooPee Hiltunen of industry group Neogames. “GDC is very important for the game developer companies since it is the biggest annual business event. All of the companies seemed to be pretty happy to be there.”
Secret Exit had to be one of the happiest. Their game Zen Bound won the “Audio Achievement” and the coveted “Best iPhone Game” awards. The conference promoters describe Zen Bound as “a calm and meditative game of wrapping rope around wooden sculptures – a simple task that can become surprisingly complex.”
“Zen Bound is an experimental concept that’s border-lining between a game and a toy,” Secret Exit’s Jani Kahrama explains. “It’s a tactile, beautiful diversion with very subtle game-like goals. I guess to put it shortly it is beautiful to look at and pleasant to touch! Winning the awards at the Independent Games Festival mobile competition was undoubtedly the highlight of our trip.”
Secret Exit, www.secretexit.com
Game Developers Conference, www.gdconf.com
by: David J. Cord, Helsinki Times