"Finland is becoming a truly global gaming hub that's recognised by a growing number of major players."
Zynga and Wargaming join the already robust gaming cluster in Helsinki
Finland’s seemingly inexhaustible supply of mobile gaming talent has attracted two renowned game studios to the country.
Zynga, an American developer of social video games that once accounted for a staggering 57 per cent of all online game revenues, established a subsidiary company in Helsinki in mid-October and is currently looking to fill almost a dozen open positions, ranging from creative artists and lead game designers to office managers.
Wargaming, a nearly 20-year-old international game studio headquartered in Cyprus, announced in December that it is seeking to consolidate its position in the mobile space with the help of the seasoned industry veterans of Boomlagoon, a Helsinki-based game development team comprising ex-employees of Digital Chocolate, Remedy and Rovio.
“Finland is becoming a truly global gaming hub that’s recognised by a growing number of major players,” rejoices Oleg Paliy, a business advisor at Finpro’s Invest in Finland.
The country owes its reputation as one of the gaming hotbeds in the world especially to its world-class expertise in mobile technologies and vibrant gaming community, views Paliy.
The local chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), IGDA Finland, organises monthly meetings that bring together developers and executives from a variety of game studios – as well as aspiring professionals– to create connections, share ideas and, most importantly, have fun.
“These activities unite people. Events are held regularly not only in Helsinki but also in other parts of Finland. The participants may be from companies with very different goals, but when they get together they get to know each other not as rivals but as people with similar interests,” explains Paliy.
He also reminds that all of the successful game studios hailing from Finland, including Rovio and Supercell, have at some point in time received funding from the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes).
“Strong governmental support has definitely accelerated the growth of the industry,” he acknowledges.
Finland’s ample supply of gaming talent is also a consequence of its education system, with more than a dozen higher education institutions currently offering programmes for aspiring game designers, developers and executives.
Leading soft-launch platform
Zynga has yet to shed light on its future plans in Finland, but Wargaming has revealed that its decision to expand to the country was motivated by the desire to provide genuinely world-class mobile gaming experiences.
“The acquisition […] creates a great outpost for us to strengthen our market position,” said Keith Kawahata, the head of mobile at Wargaming. Paliy agrees.
“Finland is absolutely a great place for creating new games because of its game development talent and mobile technology expertise,” he says. “I believe it’s also one of the best place in the world for soft-launching games because of how well Finns speak English. Quite a few international companies have been using it as a soft-launch platform.”
“Finns’ eagerness to adopt new technologies, including mobile technologies, makes the country one-hundred per cent the place to test your mobile services,” adds Paliy.