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Finnish games score highly in China

3rd Eye Studios are keen to get into the Chinese market where their passion for VR can continue to grow. (Arja Johansson is pictured on the far left and Kari Koivistoinen in the middle of the picture).3rd Eye Studios

The Chinese gaming industry sees potential in the high quality and creativity of Finnish games. This is creating some interesting opportunities.

Given Finland’s population of 5.5 million, unsurprisingly export has always been the main market for its games studios. The success of the industry is well known. In fact, today well over one billion people all around the world have played Finnish games.

One market that is ripe for further development is China, the fastest growing mobile market in the world. In China, the success of Rovio and Supercell has especially paved the way for other Finnish game studios to make their mark. The global success of Finland’s mobile games means that it stands out when Chinese companies increasingly look to Europe for new games to bring to their market.

“Many Chinese investors think that the Finnish product is really creative, but the Finnish companies don’t know how to operate in China,” says Liu Heng, the secretary general of Hangzhou Animation Comic and Game Association. “So, Chinese companies can help with this by bringing the Finnish games to China.”

The next generation of games

Different types of networking events have proven to be crucial in bringing these parties together. The most recent gathering was organised in August by the Invest in Finland China team, together with the non-profit umbrella organisation for Finnish games, Neogames. Here, several Chinese companies demonstrated their interest in bringing different types of Finnish games to the Chinese market.

“With games it all comes down to entertainment and the Finnish game studios have managed to find the type of content that the Chinese want to consume,” says KooPee Hiltunen, director of Neogames. “The playability of the games is one thing that directly affects the interest in a game.”

Even though the Finnish gaming industry is small compared to China, the Finnish studios have a technological advantage when making games. This means that the Finnish companies are flexible and able to develop games for almost any platform.

Among the Finnish studios attending the event and wanting to expand in China was 3rd Eye Studios, a team of Finnish professionals on a mission to make VR mainstream.

“We are renewing the way of making games in the same way music and photographing has been disrupted when moving to digital publishing methods,” says the company’s CEO and co-founder, Kari Koivistoinen. “We are making the next generation of game development tools.”

The Finnish gaming industry is looking to China for future growth. Image: Neogames

Their unique tools, named 3rd Eye Core, together with their unique technology team will allow fast and cost-efficient game design for VR but also other platforms such as mobile and PC. This gives the company a competitive advantage on the Asian market. The company is currently piloting a toolkit in China and Japan, which is set to become more widely available in the beginning of next year. This is also when the studio will launch its first big VR game.

“The real world and the virtual world are moving closer to each other,” says Koivistoinen. “We believe that mixed reality and virtual reality will become normal in most fields.”

China knows how to play

With VR still waiting for its big breakthrough in Finland, in contrast China is much further down the development line in this area of games. Compared to the Western market where the focus lies on high quality headsets and equipment, the Chinese are consuming their virtual reality elsewhere.

“In China they already have thousands of VR cafés and game spots where people go to play together,” says Koivistoinen.

This means that Asia is the main market for 3rd Eye Studios and it has already found important investors from China. Now the company is searching for local contacts that can help it publish both their games and their tools on the market. According to the company’s co-founder and head of operations, Arja Johansson, it is crucial to find a local person with the right contacts and a good reputation to make it in China. She believes the cooperation between these two countries is a perfect match.

“Finland and China have a very good relationship in many areas and I believe both nations have the similar kind of straightness that makes it easy to work together,” says Johansson. “I look forward to this co-operation.”

One company helping to bring international companies to the Chinese market is MyGamez, a Finnish-Chinese startup that has been crucial to the success of Fingersoft’s world renowned game Hill Climb Racing and Koukoi GamesCrashing Season in the Far East.

By: Elisa Häggström