25th Jan2021

Finland’s sneaky imprint in today’s gaming legacy

by James Smith

These days, Finland rules when it comes to mobile games. And yet, many people are surprised to learn that Finland’s gaming culture is a lot older than they think. The history of Finnish gaming and the roots of today’s success can be traced back to the early ’80s.

With the introduction of home computers, many tech-savvy Finns found a new hobby in creating games for the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore 64. Programming for these computers was easy, and unlike the games of today which require huge teams, a single person was able to create gaming magic. Counterfeits of popular games were common, but there was plenty of originality and experimentation to be found in games of this era.

The spirit of individual experimentation evolved into a thriving demoscene, which laid the groundwork for commercial success. Many of Finland’s rising stars, such as Terramarque and Bloodhouse, got their start in the tight-knit demoscene.

And everybody remembers Snake. The game, which came preinstalled on Nokia devices starting in 1997, sparked a new era of mobile gaming. It wasn’t the first mobile game (a 1994 variant of Tetris on the Hagenuk MT-2000 claims that title), but it was arguably the most influential mobile game and the first mobile gaming phenomenon, paving the way for Finnish mobile games to dominate the market.

Once Nokia’s mobile devices hit the scene in the late 90s, Finland’s position within the game industry rose exponentially, and the rest is history.

Now in our time, not many of you know but Finland brought home two major milestones. the first one being “Angry birds”. Which came with the rise of smartphones, with touchscreen controls, and the debut of the App Store, which opened up new doors for mobile gaming.

Finnish companies like Rovio were quick to jump on board. Angry Birds, released in 2009 for iOS, was a huge hit worldwide and remains the most popular mobile game of all time. It was downloaded 12 million times after its release, effectively establishing mobile gaming as a viable platform for developers.

The second one is “Clash of clans”. When Clash of Clans was released for mobile in 2012, the game quickly dominated download charts around the world. Millions of players worldwide brought in millions of dollars daily for Supercell, making it one of the most lucrative mobile games ever. Its success helped skyrocket Supercell to the top of the Finnish games industry and cemented Finland’s position as a world leader in mobile games.

Now, the Nordic nation is one of the biggest players in the global gaming community. In fact, if we were to look exclusively at population size versus revenue generated by video games, Finland would come out top in the world. Finn’s are really into it – that it is quick mobile games, like a “Kasino ilman rekisteröitymistä” which are huge in Finland. Or a massive multiplayer MMO like Clash of clans. Or old school niche like UnReal World, 1992…They will play it. And we will support them all the same! As long as they keep sharing with us these amazing creations.

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