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Gaming giant Supercell’s sales dip as it seeks a new hit

While Supercell's turnover declined last year, smaller Finnish gaming companies saw stronger profits.

Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen Image: Yle

Finland’s biggest games company, Supercell, reports lower turnover last year. Sales declined by 14 percent to 1.8 billion euros from compared with 2.1 billion euros in 2016.

CEO Ilkka Paananen attributes the slump to a simple fact: Supercell did not release a single new game last year. Paananen says growth has been impossible in the cutthroat competition of the gaming market.

“Particularly in Europe and North America, the number of new players is no longer growing so fast. Instead of trying to attract new players, we’ve tried to better serve our existing players,” Paananen says.

Supercell does not announce its exact profits, but it is certainly in the hundreds of millions of euros annually. At a press conference in Helsinki on Wednesday, Paananen just said that the firm has good profitability.

Four games, 241 employees – and a value of $10bn

Established in 2010, Supercell has so far only released four games: HayDay, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach and Clash Royale. The company says that they all remained among the world’s most popular – and lucrative – mobile games.

Supercell last year had a payroll of just 241 people at five offices around the globe. Paananen says that Supercell now has its sights set on China’s vast gaming market and building a team there – and a long-term strategy that looks “years or even decades” ahead.

The firm estimates that China now represents a third of the world’s mobile game market.

Supercell’s market value was estimated at 10 billion dollars in 2016. That year China’s Tencent bought the Japanese firm Softbank's stake in 2016 for 8.6 billion dollars, boosting its share to about 84 percent.

Smaller firms bubbling under

Supercell accounts for the lion’s share of Finland’s gaming sector. For instance in 2016 the local industry had sales of two and a half billion euros – which Supercell accounting for 2.1 billion of the total. That year, Finland’s gaming sector employed just under 3,000 people.

Finland’s smaller gaming firms did however show promising growth last year.

Analysts expect that Angry Birds-maker Rovio, which went public last autumn, racked up sales of some 300 million euros, which would be an increase of more than 100 million euros. Meanwhile smaller Finnish gaming firms such as Seriously Digital Entertainment, Remedy Entertainment, Next Games and Fingersoft all saw their profits rise last year.