Finland has a population of only 5 million people and there are just 240 game studios, but in 2018 they still had an annual gaming market revenue of €2.2 billion.
A large part of Finland’s gaming growth can be put down to the huge success of mobile giants such as Supercell, who created the highly popular game Clash of Clans which made $1.7 billion back in 2014. Seriously Entertainment, Remedy Entertainment, and Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds, are some of the other big Finnish gaming studios. In addition to these Finnish studios, over the last five years or so plenty of international game developers have also set up shop in Helsinki. This includes the likes of Epic Games, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and Zynga. However, it must also be said that it is not only the large companies that are joining in Finland’s gaming revolution – there are also hundreds of small studios that make up what is growing to be a very successful growing industry.
An Increase in Non-Finnish Employees
According to this report, the number of non-Finnish employees in the gaming industry in Finland has grown from 18% back in 2016 to just over 30% in 2020. This increase is very significant as it shows that Finland is a highly attractive country for those who are involved in the gaming industry. On the other hand, the availability of local experienced professionals is one of the main challenges to the industry. Educational programmes that teach game development skills are still relatively undeveloped in Finland, and the industry is growing so quickly that it is very hard to match the demands. Therefore, many job positions, especially senior ones, are filled by employees from abroad.
Oleg Paliy, the CEO of Games Factory Talents and the man behind a talent acquisition program known as Finnish Games Career Day, says that Finland is a country that is interested in getting talent from abroad as there are only 3,500 Finnish people in the gaming industry in Finland, and there are hundreds of vacancies available, especially when it comes to developers. Although Finnish universities opened up a number of programs to train designers and game developers, they have not managed to keep pace with the growing industry, and they do not have the time to supply any new specialists. This boom began after the success of Rovio and then Supercell – these are two companies that pushed others to move into the game making business.
Mobile gaming growth
At the time of writing, the biggest boom for startups come from the development of online casino games and mobile games. According to Netticasinosuomi.info, an online casino news site in Finland, the people of Finland are known to enjoy gambling a lot. This is highlighted by the €13 billion turnover that Veikkaus, the only gambling operator in the country, made in 2019. You can find games that have been developed by Veikkaus at Casino Helsinki, the biggest brick and mortar casino in Finland as well as at plenty of online casino websites. Veikkaus has 2 million registered customers, which is 45% of the country’s adult population. The company is owned by the state, so any profit that is made is used to help the people of Finland.
Any Finnish gaming company can get help from the government. Finnish game studios can get support funds and grants for technology development. The government grant program is called Tekes and since 1996 they have funded more than 100 game studios. Tekes provides an estimated $140 million every year to Finnish technological companies, and the government do not take any shares of the profits that are made. Instead, the government gets its returns through taxes when the company goes on to become extremely successful. Supercell came into being thanks to $3 million worth of funding from Tekes. At the time, the company was made up of just 6 employees, but they now pay more in taxes each year than the government gives out in Tekes funding every year.
But Doesn’t Finland Have High Taxes?
This is a question that game developers often ask before making the decision whether to move to Finland or not. While it is true that taxes are quite high in Finland, benefits such as affordable childcare, free higher education, and universal health services help to balance things out a bit. An income in Finland of around $55,000 will put you in the wealthy bracket and you will not need to worry about anything when it comes to your personal finances. On the other hand, in countries such as America, a $55,000 annual income might not stretch that far if you have children as you will be required to save up for their education, healthcare and childcare.
Moving to another country is a big step, and the Finnish government are well aware of this fact. Therefore, they regularly hold schemes, like the 90 Day Finn programme, where they invite foreign technological workers to spend a few months in the country to see if they would like to stay permanently. The scheme provides successful applicants with official documentation, school or childcare for their kids, suitable housing, remote working opportunities, introduction to networks and tech hubs around Helsinki, as well as help with permanent residency.
New and Exciting Challenges Are on Offer
So, as you can see from the information above, there is no doubt that Finland is a country with a gaming industry that is getting bigger and bigger. However, the number of trained game designers in the country does not match the growing demand, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities for trained game developers from other countries. If you are looking for work and are searching for a new and exciting challenge in the gaming industry, then Finland is a destination that can give you exactly what you are looking for.