Photo: Eren Li

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The global online gaming industry is a billion-euro business and the heart that beats at the centre of the entertainment world. Finland is the third largest game developer in Europe. But what impact has this had on Finland’s economy?

Global Context

Online gaming is built around developers. In simple terms, developers can be split into three major platforms - console, PC, and mobile. Then, some sectors can be played across some or all of these platforms, the most significant and valuable of which is online igaming. You can find and try some of the most popular games here.

Humble Beginnings

Thanks to the legacy of Nokia, Finland had a head start as a respected leader in the tech space. Finland released its first online game in 1986, following the introduction of personal computers to households.

When considering the global gaming industry as a whole, Finland’s contribution at this stage was considered pretty insignificant. However, it would prove to be important and the first major milestone of many.

In the late 2000s, when Apple released the iPhone, the Finnish online gaming industry exploded far beyond anything that could have been expected.

Success Stories

The first notable Finnish success story was Angry Birds, released by Rovio Entertainment in 2009. Angry Birds has been downloaded to mobile phones more than a billion times. You would be hard-pressed to find any millennial who hasn’t played Angry Birds at least once.

Helsinki-based Supercell released Clash of Clans in 2012, and for a long time, it held one of the top spots as the most downloaded game for iOS and Android.

The Economic Impact

Finland's economy is one that has seen and continues to see struggle. However, Supercell and Rovio managed to turn what used to be a 100 million euro industry into one worth over 2 billion. Despite economic uncertainty in some areas, Finland’s online gaming industry continues to boom.

Finland is one of the largest game developers in Europe based on revenue. As of 2016, Finland's gaming industry employed over 2,700 people and reported a staggering 33% industry growth compared to 9% globally.

But the impact of the Country’s gaming greats doesn’t stop there. Supercell’s creation of the We Foundation has encouraged social change, with its core focus on improving equality in Finnish Society. The association between gaming and social activism in Finland can be traced even further back in history; the first state lottery was held in Finland in 1940 to raise funds for the war effort.

The economic impact of online games in Finland is far-reaching and extends far beyond company profit and consumer entertainment.

Looking Forward

The contribution of online gaming clearly carries over much further than direct sales and placing wagers. Every online purchase of a game or bet placed can trigger the purchase of other products or services to compliment game play, including technology, accessories, and unique content.

Even upgrading your mobile device or your internet bandwidth to improve your gaming experience can be considered a game-driven boost to economic growth. In many cases, purchases like this happen far sooner and more frequently directly, thanks to the popularity of online gaming.

As the limits of technology continue to be pushed with advancements like wearables and AI, online gaming can only become more favorable to Finland’s economy moving forward.