When it comes to Finland’s reputation on the world stage, the first words that appear in the minds of most people are design, video gaming, and sometimes, Moomins. It is therefore hardly surprising that Finland continues to be ranked as one of the best places in the world to be a game developer. Surve
Alongside companies producing the greatest hits of Finnish gaming, such as Angry Birds, Cities Skyline, Max Payne, and FlatOut, the country has one of the highest concentrations of development studios per capita in Europe.
Talented developers from across the world are being actively and aggressively headhunted by both large and small companies, as Finland attempts to position itself as a global epicentre for the gaming industry. Game developer salaries in Helsinki now average between 50,000-80,000 euros a year, making the city one of the highest paying destinations in Europe. Only game developers in Switzerland and Denmark earn more.
While Finland has long-enjoyed a reputation for punching above its weight in the global gaming industry, things have changed rapidly in recent years, with the domestic industry becoming much more globalised.
While the industry was previously dominated by a few local boutique studios such as Rovio and Bugbear, these days some of the biggest game companies in the world command the greatest share of revenues. The American gaming conglomerate Zynga recently established a presence in Helsinki, while the gaming giant Wargaming bought out Finnish company Boomlagoon just last year. Major Chinese game companies like Tencent have also been establishing a major foothold, having recently bought a majority stake in the mobile gaming powerhouse Supercell.
All of this has allowed Finland to expand its gaming industry significantly, with revenues and opportunities for developers continuing to grow.
This so-called “internationalisation” of the Finnish games industry can also be seen within the consumer market. While Finns still constitute a significant market for local development companies, competition from overseas has risen. Many industry watchers were shocked when it was revealed last year that the FPS game Battlefield, created by the Swedish developers EA DICE, came out on top as Finland’s favorite video game, beating domestic productions by a considerable margin.
Even the great state monopolies are no longer safe. The state-run gambling monopoly, Veikkaus, has been rapidly losing revenues to online casinos based overseas. Major online casinos in Finland have been drawing Finnish players away from Veikkaus. International companies are able to lure Finnish gamers partly because they are able to be so much more competitive.
The Finnish game industry is clearly booming, and now is a great time to be a game developer in Finland. The burning question, however, is whether domestic game companies will be able to compete with foreign companies in the future, and whether or not the continued globalisation of Finland’s game industry will turn out to be a good thing.
In order to compete with the best, Finland needs innovation, something which can only be achieved by attracting talented developers from across the world. How Finland’s game industry will fare in the years ahead is anyone’s guess.