Now that Finnish-made mobile games appear to be taking the world by storm, the gaming industry seems to be enjoying a period of dizzying growth. Based in Kempele, western Finland, the gaming company Fingersoft has rolled over the competition with its addictive release Hill Climb Racing. Consumers worldwide can’t seem to get enough of this entertaining app – it has already seen more than 170 million downloads.
Successes like Fingersoft’s have helped the Finnish gaming industry take in one billion euros in sales last year alone.
"When we include the other activities involved in games, the full value rises to more than two billion euros. Games are definitely Finland’s biggest cultural exports in terms of euros," said KP Hiltunen, head of Neogames, an association of Finnish gaming companies.
Behind the numbers is a rapid increase in the number of new players entering the field – over the past three years 125 companies have set up shop with a view to designing the next blockbuster gaming app.
"There’s been a significant level of investment in Finland in a few years. Now is the time to be a gaming entrepreneur in Finland or to start a business," Hiltunen declared.
Observers predict that the gaming industry will continue its meteoric rise and that it will maintain its current annual growth rate of about 10 percent.
No sure-fire recipes for success
"We can compare the gaming business to Olympic sports. There are many competitors looking to place well and win medals, but making it isn’t a done deal. It requires an immense amount of hard work, making the right decisions in a certain way, having money and at some stage, even a bit of luck,” Hiltunen pointed out.
Developing a game can take a long time, and even then it may not be a highly popular download.
"A good game must be familiar enough, but still contain new elements. It must be easy to play and the content must be interesting to users. No one has the perfect recipe. It would be worth it to check out Angry Birds, Clash of Clans and Hill Climb Racing and pick out the common factors," he added.
Finns have been looking to the gaming industry to produce a major player that would power the Finnish economy in the same way that mobile technology company Nokia did. But Hiltunen doesn’t think this is a realistic goal.
"The kind of model in which there is one major economic powerhouse is not a stable solution in today’s world. I’d rather see the gaming industry as an industry with many independent companies aiming for success in global markers. They can cooperate but they are not inter-dependent as in the old model," Hiltunen concluded.