Some time ago the Swedish gaming news site FragZone had a interesting article (in Swedish) stating that Sweden might be the best country in the world at creating games. This was interesting, and we decided to delve deeper into this theory and find out why Swedish gaming startups are so successful.
What is remarkable about gaming in Sweden?
Actually, Sweden is so good at games that it’s almost ridiculous. Lets start with one thing: upcoming blockbusters in the video gaming sector.
Blockbusters in the making
As the FragZone article noted, if you look at the blockbusters from E3 you will notice that a lot of them will be produced in Sweden.
Hideo Kojima tweeted at E3, in a little shaky English: “Question: Battlefield , The Division and Mad Max. What these title have common?” to which Christofer Sundberg , studio manager at Avalance replied: “Sweden rules E3 2013“.
Just look at the games that are made in Sweden:
- EA owned Dice develops Battlefield 4. Battlefield 3 was a huge success and sold in 17 million copies.
- It was also announced at E3 that Dice would get the honor of making Star Wars: Battlefront, and that Mirror’s Edge 2 is already in production,
- Ghost, a EA studio based in Gothenburg, is developing the next Need For Speed: Rivals and all these games are made on Frostbite – a game engine that was created on Dice for the Bad Company games and now is the engine for virtually all EA games except sports games.
But it is not just EA studios:
- Ubisoft’s next great game, the MMO shooter Tom Clancy ‘s The Division, will be made by their Malmö based studio Massive Entertainment. After five years of development in secret – and no rumors leaking – the studio stepped into the limelight with a completely new game and to purchase a new IP.
- Sony’s next big bet, Mad Max, is developed by Avalanche, also a Swedish studio. This game is a more uncertain bet, but the Mad Max IP is very interesting and has a lot of dedicated fans.
Minecraft – an indie that is bigger than anything else
Besides those blockbusters hits that are produced in Sweden, we also have the, by now quite famous, Notch and his Minecraft. A company that did an impressive 1,5 billion SEK (230 million dollars) in revenue last year, with an amazing 39,30% margin. It is now the game company with the biggest profit margins in Sweden, and its turnover is 3 times that of the second biggest company in sweden.
Social gaming: the giant king.com
It is not just in games on consoles and the PC that Sweden make well. A game-giant that is still not so well known is King.com, behind the hit Candy Crush Saga as well as other social games. The company is now said to have surpassed Zynga in size, and is making its presence felt in the social gaming sector.
Up and Comers:
And not to forget – events like Dreamhack
Everything written above is about creating games, but Sweden is also the home of Dreamhack, which besides being the biggest LAN party in the world is also one of the big players when it comes to e-sports. The Dreamhack tournaments have evolved from once a year to a series that is almost bi-monthly, with the prize money increasing each year.
So there seems to be something in the water when it comes to Sweden and gaming – but why? We have no proof, but these might be some of the factors contributing:
“A computer in every home”
In the 1990’s, the Swedish government subsidized the cost of computers for every family, allowing any Swedish family to buy a personal computer. This must’ve had a great impact – allowing a generation of Swedish kids to mess around with computers, coding and technology.
Broadband for everybody
The government was also good at bringing out internet access to a lot of the households. By the year 2000, more or less every home and school had access to a quality network.
Not a proven fact, but the cold and dark winters are not exactly encouraging for being outside, something that makes playing games or making games an more attractive alternative.
I think the Nordics are really good at games because of our consensus driven management style. Creating games is all about getting very creative artists to work with some of the best techies, something that I think requires a work-place culture where you have respect for one-another. Something we in the Nordics are very good at.
I think all of these are definitely factors that have contributed to Swedens rise as a gaming country. What will be interesting to see now, is what will happen in the next 5-10 years…