If you’re an experienced game developer, Finland would like to talk with you, no matter what your country of origin is.
Games are a big deal in Finland. The Finnish gaming industry has seen steady annual growth since 2009 and their games are the country’s largest content export. In terms of sales, Finland is among the three largest game developer countries in Europe, with revenues of ~$2.6 billion and approximately 7% market share of global mobile game sales. Based on preliminary estimates from the Neogames Finland Association, a member-based non-profit game industry organization, the game industry’s share of Finland’s GDP was about half a percent in 2016.
“Finnish games from Angry Birds to Clash of Clans, from Quantum Break to Cities: Skylines have conquered the world. Well over a billion people all over the globe have been playing games made in Finland,” said Mariina Hallikainen, Chairman of the Board for the Finnish Game Developers’ Association, in a statement.
Finnish gaming companies are becoming a stronger force in the global gaming industry as well. China’s tech giant Tencent bought a controlling stake in Supercell that valued the company at $10.2 billion. Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for innovation, is working with gumi Inc. and Nordisk Film to launch Nordic VR Startups (NVS), an incubation program focused on the VR market. Indie developer Traplight Games has raised money from Korea Investment Partners, while Angry Birds developer Rovio has opened a London studio in order to tap into the United Kingdom’s labor pool.
As beautiful as the Finnish video games rose appears, the thorns are still there. For starters, the industry’s growth has slowed down, from 33% in 2015, to 4% in 2016. At least twenty studios have closed down, with the total of active game studios hovering at 250. The industry has also suffered recurrent staff shortages, particularly for experienced and senior-level employees. The Neogames Finland Association estimates that currently 18% of of developers in the industry are foreign-born, a sharp contrast to the number of foreign-born residents in the entire country (5.5%). As it stands, Finnish game studios are likely to have as many as 280 new positions open in 2017 and view foreign labor as the source to fill the openings and the slow admission rate of new foreigners as one of the largest obstacles to growth.
Even so, KooPee Hiltunen, Director of the Neogames Finland Association, remains optimistic. “The Finnish game industry is confident about the future. Success is built piece by piece and a game at a time. Finnish studios are great at making games.”