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Global developments the name of the game for Finnish game industry

YAHAHA has been a runaway hit since its launch, as Yahaha Studios continues to announce global developments.Yahaha Studios

Finnish game studios have detailed plans to improve their offering through financing, partnerships and new ownership.

The Finnish game industry has enjoyed enviable success over the last 25 years. Spurred by the global popularity of the likes of Supercell and Angry Birds, it has grown into an industry whose annual revenue has regularly exceeded two billion euros, according to the most recent biennial report by Neogames.

Whilst the number of active studios in Finland indeed continues to decline, dropping from 260 to 200 in 2018–2020, the studios that enjoy revenue of at least a million euros have increased in number from 34 to 46.

Supercell’s five hit games – Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, Clash Royale and Brawl Stars –have together generated more than five billion downloads. Image: Supercell

Furthermore, the total amount of employees has also enjoyed a bump during that time period, from 3 200 to 3 600, as too the share of women (up two percentage points to 22 per cent) and foreign nationals (up a point to 28 per cent).

Recent headlines around the world continue to chart various developments for Finnish studios. The US streaming giant Netflix, for one, has announced plans to set up a new game studio in Helsinki.

“Why Helsinki? It is home to some of the best game talent in the world,” said VP of Game Studios Amir Rahimi.

The new studio will be built from scratch, and is in fact Netflix’s second games studio in Helsinki having acquired Next Games earlier this year.

“This is another step in our vision to build a world-class games studio that will bring a variety of delightful and deeply engaging original games — with no ads and no in-app purchases — to our hundreds of millions of members around the world,” said Netflix’s VP of game studios, Amir Rahim. Image: Julia Bushueva

Elsewhere in studio news, Nitro Games has received a tentative green light from its board of directors to take out a two million-euro interest-free loan from its majority shareholder, Nordisk Games, pending the approval of an extraordinary general meeting taking place on 22 September.

The studio said it will use the loan to develop its portfolio of shooter games.

“This funding allows us to take a more proactive role in exploring these opportunities, as well as increases our flexibility in marketing in conjunction with the upcoming launch [of NERF: Superblast on 8 September],” statedJussi Tähtinen, CEO of Nitro Games.

Nitro Games announced earlier last summer that it has signed an agreement worth 2.3 million euros for continuing the development of an unannounced project for Digital Extremes. The agreement increases the total value of the assignment to around 4.5 million euros as the project edges close to its planned conclusion in 2023.

Nitro Games is a game developer studio with a professional team focused on designing shooter games for mobile platforms. Image: Facebook / Nitro Games

“We’re excited to continue our work on the project with this new expansion agreement. This new order is a new fit for our strategy,” said Tähtinen.

Providing game development services to other game industry companies is a key element of the strategy of Nitro Games.

Yahaha enhances creation platform through partnerships

Yahaha Studios, the Espoo-based startup behind the social content creation platform YAHAHA, revealed earlier this month it has entered into a partnership with the leading 3D model market place in the world, CGTrader.

The partnership will enable users of the newly launched platform to access and utilise around 200 000 new 3D assets.

“Partnering with CGTrader is a very exciting step in the growth of the YAHAHA platform,” statedPengfei Zhang, COO of Yahaha Studios. “CGTrader is such an important institution with a rich history in 3D model creation, and we know that working with them is going to be something that will benefit both our user bases.”

A visual treat. Yahaha Studios landed 50 million US dollars in funding earlier this year. Image: Yahaha Studios

The partners also launched a challenge that encourages creators to build a social space on the platform for a chance to win up to 5 000 US dollars.

Promising to enable virtually anyone to create, publish, share and play content, the easy-to-use platform was launched in early alpha earlier this year following an investment of 50 million US dollars.

Yahaha Studios in August announced it has struck a partnership with Dabeeo, a Korean technology platform.

The goal of the partnership, it said, is to create 3D maps and landscapes from the real world on YAHAHA. Dabeeo will also enhance the platform by providing users access to its technology for creating maps using geospatial and positioning data integrated with artificial intelligence and satellite imagery.

The partnership kicked off with another challenge targeted at users: re-creating a nightlife-filled street in Hongdae, Seoul.

Yahaha Studios’ COO, Penfgei Zhang, says partnering with CGTrader is a very exciting step in the growth of the social content-creation platform. Image: Yahaha Studios

The challenge was the first of its kind based on a real-world template, according to Yahaha Studios. Zhang stated that the challenge offers participants a unique opportunity to showcase their skills while exploring the new features and help to push the boundaries of the artificial intelligence of Dabeeo.

Sony makes Savage acquisition

Sony Interactive Entertainment in August announced it is acquiring Savage Game Studios, a startup with offices in Berlin and Helsinki.

Led by industry veterans such as Michail Katkoff, Nadjim Adjir and Michael McManus, the startup is joining the mobile division of PlayStation Studios. CEO Katkoff said Savage Game Studios is honoured to become part of the world-class collective of artists, designers and engineers at PlayStation Studios.

“We have great admiration for the consistency and quality of PlayStation’s first-party catalogue, knowing just how hard it is in this industry to deliver time and time again as they have,” he commented.

Developers at Savage Game Studios, part of the mobile division at PlayStation Studios, are working on an unannounced mobile action game. Image: Soumil Kumar / Pexels

Savage Game Studios seeks to leverage epic storylines to foster a long-term connection with players around the world. Currently on the drawing board is an unannounced mobile live-service action game.

“We’re early in development on our unannounced project but can’t wait to show you more of what we’re working on,” said Katkoff.

The acquisition, he viewed, indicates that the startup’s passion for experimentation and risk-taking is shared by Sony Interactive Entertainment. PlayStation Studios’ mobile division was established to create new experiences for players through innovative, on-the-go gaming based on new and existing intellectual property.

The success of certain Finnish studios also emphasises the importance of reaching child gamers. Image: Jessica Lewis Creative / Pexels

“PlayStation Studios must continue to expand and diversify our offering beyond console, bringing incredible new games to more people than ever before,” said Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Studios. “Acquiring the talented team at Savage Game Studios is another strategic step towards that goal.”

Elsewhere, the Finnish company Ferly has shed light on plans to venture into new categories with its brand, Momolu.

Ferly in September revealed that it has signed a licensing agreement in the UK for Momolu with Brands With Influence. The Helsinki-based brand building company has also announced partnerships to launch a second season of audio originals, oat-based chocolates and a series of stationeries based on what was originally an animated series.

“The Momolu brand is continuing to grow as a universe for children to help navigate a world that is becoming more complicated, but in a way that is fun, exciting and allows their imaginations to take them to wonderful places,” envisionedLaura Nevanlinna, CEO of Ferly.

“With Momolu and Friends already available to watch in the UK on ITVBe, we’re looking forward to working with Brands With Influence in the UK.”

Ferly also handles all licensing and branding connected to the Swedish equestrian immersive game environment Star Stable. The Finnish company was part of a recent deal that saw Star Stable Entertainment appoint The Point.1888 to represent its licensing interests in the UK.

By: Aleksi Teivainen