An overhead photo of a man and woman holding controllers on a sofa.
 Finnish gaming expertise has kept gamers on the edges of their seats for over a quarter of a century. Image: Cottonbro / Pexels

Finnish gaming knowhow is ripe for picking

Finnish game development knowhow remains in high demand worldwide, indicates a flurry of recent acquisitions.

Aleksi Teivainen

05.08.2021

Housemarque, which at 26 years of age is the oldest game studio currently in operation in Finland, was acquired by PlayStation Studios in June. The acquisition strengthens a relationship between the two industry pioneers dating back almost 15 years, to the release of Housemarque’s Super Stardust HD on PS3.

“This gives our studio a clear future and a stable opportunity to continue delivering on gameplay-centric approaches while still experimenting with new methods of narrative delivery and pushing the boundaries of this modern art form,” commented Ilari Kuittinen, managing director of Housemarque.

Screenshot of Returnal

Returnal has enjoyed significant success since being released in May. Image: Sony

“Locally here in Helsinki, this also means that we will officially expand the PlayStation family to a growing industry hub and secure the legacy of the oldest game studio in Finland.”

Returnal, the latest release from Housemarque, has drawn praise for its stunning graphics, smooth gameplay and high level of ambition, and has been described as “an epic dance of death with beautiful, brutal aliens” in a five-out-of-five review in the Guardian.

“Housemarque’s recent release of Returnal proves the studio is one with incredible vision, capable of creating memorable new games that resonate with our community,” stated Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Studios.

“Hub for great game talent”

Israel’s Plarium in August announced it has reached an agreement to take over Futureplay, the Helsinki-headquartered creator of mobile games such as Merge Gardens, Battlelands Royale and Idle Farming Empire.

“The acquisition is a strong addition to our portfolio of world-leading studios,” viewed Aviram Steinhart, CEO of Plarium.

“Plarium will be focused on investing in Futureplay, allowing it to accelerate its growth and footprint in the Finnish gaming market, which is well recognised as a global hub for great game talent,” he added. “We see in Futureplay a talented and ambitious team to partner for the long term as both companies share similar culture and vision.”

A group of people posing for a photo on a street in front of a brick wall.

Futureplay is poised to accelerate its growth and enlarge its footprint in the Finnish gaming market following its acquisition by Plarium, an Israel-based mobile and computer games developer with more than 390 million users worldwide. Image: Futureplay

The two game studios will work side by side, sharing knowledge, expertise and resources to expand the gaming catalogue of Futureplay. The acquisition is expected to be closed by month-end and enable both studios to leverage their combined user base and social media following in pursuit of rapid growth.

“This collaboration will help enhance our existing games and bring new offerings to our players,” said Jami Laes, CEO of Futureplay.

“Beyond the resources and talent Plarium provides to help us build even better gaming experiences for our players, we share a similar vision of maintaining a creative development environment where business growth never impedes on our passion for simply creating games that we want to play.”

Oulu-based Koukui supports SciPlay’s foray into casual gaming

Las Vegas-based SciPlay in July turned to Finnish expertise to support both its expansion into the over 20-billion-dollar casual games market and effort to diversify its revenue by acquiring Koukoi Games, a developer and operator of casual games hailing from Oulu.

Screenshot of Om Nom: Run

Om Nom: Run passed the 30-million downloads mark back in May. Image: Twitter/Koukoi Games

Known especially as the co-developer of Om Nom: Run, the Finnish studio builds its games on a proprietary technology platform including modular game-feature components and real-time multiplayer engines that can be used across games. Its team will take over the organic development of a new casual game concept for SciPlay.

Antti Kananen, CEO of Koukoi Games, viewed that the takeover presents the team an opportunity to take their games to the next level by taking advantage of the “product and analytical rigour, user acquisition expertise and market scale”.

“We are thrilled to be joining SciPlay,” he stated. “Our studio was founded on our passion to make casual mash-up games that blend successful attributes of multiple genres, appealing to broad audiences through engaging gameplay and deep meta storylines.”

An industry growing quickly into big shoes

All three acquisitions magnify the buzz surrounding the Finnish game industry as it matures from what developmental psychologists might call emerging adulthood into adulthood.

The 25-year-old industry has continued to grow and diversify on the fertile foundation laid by the likes of Rovio and Supercell. It reported combined revenue in excess of two billion euros for already the sixth successive year in 2020, after witnessing a year-on-year jump of seven per cent in revenue to 2.4 billion euros despite the well-documented challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cover of The Game Industry of Finland report

Neogames released a report earlier this year that charted the recent growth of the Finnish game industry. Image: Neogames

As the two industry behemoths assume a lesser role in terms of their share of industry revenue, all the while remaining an inspiration to up-and-coming game developers, the next generation of developers is ascending to the forefront with big dreams. Neogames, a non-profit association supporting the growth of the industry, has revealed that local studios are set to recruit up to 1 000 employees by early 2022, a number that would signal an increase of 33 per cent from 2020.

Over a quarter (28%) of the 3 600 people presently employed in the industry are foreign nationals and 22 per cent women.

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