Think of Finland and you probably think of snow, sauna, cross country skiing, reindeer, and motor racing (the country has produced three Formula One world champions and many rally drivers).
According to one study, Finland is the happiest nation on earth, and according to another, they drink the most per-capita coffee in the world. Consequently, you probably don’t immediately think of video gaming.
When cutting-edge game development gets mentioned, Japan or the USA spring to mind. But actually, the top game developing country globally is Finland, with such world-conquering games as Max Payne and Angry Birds written in the Scandinavian nation. Unsurprisingly, then, the country also produces some of the best gamers in the world.
Classic titles and mobile gaming
The gaming industry is booming worldwide, especially as for the last year and a half, people look for socially distanced forms of entertainment. Add to that the explosion in mobile games – which has become recognized as a major platform – and a whole new audience has been drawn into gaming.
Finland has one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, buoyed by several cutting-edge development houses based in the country.
Neo-noir third-person shooter classic Max Payne was released by Remedy Entertainment – collaborating with Rockstar Studios for the third installment – in 2001 to great acclaim. The game’s atmosphere, level, and sound design were widely praised, and it went on to be a global bestseller across all major consoles and Microsoft Windows.
Another massive factor in Finland’s dominance is that there were several companies that saw the potential in mobile gaming early on. This early adoption meant that Finnish developers were well ahead of the curve when the App Store launched back in 2008, and when Rovio Entertainment dropped Angry Birds in 2009 it took the world by storm.
Rankings and popularity
In overall rankings, Finnish gamers come out on top when it comes to skill level. With its pedigree in producing classic games – alongside Max Payne and Angry Birds, Finland is also responsible for such hits as Clash of Clans, Stardust, and Rally Trophy, as well as early social networking phenomenon Habbo Hotel.
Despite having a population of just 5.5 million, the proportion of Finns playing games is extremely high, and market growth reflects that – 2020 saw a 9% rise, with the industry amassing $3 billion. There are 260 active video game developer studios, roughly a dozen professional players, and hundreds of thousands of active and enthusiastic amateurs nationwide.
In terms of skill level, Finland is followed by Canada and Sweden, with the United States down in 6th, and Japan outside the top ten. Of course, in more heavily populated countries the numbers of gamers and developers are higher – China has the most gamers in the world, and classic titles have mainly been released by companies in Japan and the USA.
The rise of eSports
One area that has seen massive growth in the last couple of years is eSports. There are now millions of players of top titles like League of Legends, Fortnite, Dota 2, and CS:GO.
Finland has players ranked highly in world ratings, competing in big tournaments for eye-watering multimillion-dollar paydays. But actually, the top country in the world of eSports is South Korea – it’s not surprising really, as the country was key in the activity’s popularity. “Faker” is the top player from South Korea, winning an estimated $1.2 million playing League of Legends and contributing to the games’ popularity around the world.
Biggest gaming markets by region
While Finland rules the roost as far as game development is concerned, it’s a different story when it comes to global gaming markets, and this includes online casino gaming as well.
With classic games, Asia-Pacific is by far the biggest market, and one of the fastest-growing at this point in time. China makes up a huge portion of that market, with 665 million reported gamers in 2020 – the actual figure could be much higher.
Further on, two of the fastest-growing areas in terms of the number of gamers and industry revenue are the Middle East and Africa, no doubt bolstered by the mobile gaming market. Mobile devices are far more widespread than consoles and computers in these regions. And while classic games are spreading like wildfire, what’s particularly interesting is the notable rise in classic casino gaming in the Middle East and Africa. Even despite quite restrictive laws, prohibiting citizens from gambling in these areas, these regions still account for a significant portion of the global gambling industry revenue. Witty players always come up with ways to indulge in online games and we can read on arabianbetting that even the most improbable of Google searches like ‘casino in Saudi Arabia’ can yield good results. Casino games are perfectly accessible, we’re told, simply by using a VPN.
In the end, Europe and North America are traditional and powerful bases of the gaming industry, and these regions are seeing growth, due in part to the effects of the pandemic. And, drawing on the previous information, countries like Italy (in Europe) or Nevada and New Jersey (in America) also recognized the potential online gambling brings, so that this market is seeing its full flourishment in the areas.
It may come as a surprise to some that Finland sits atop the rankings of skilled gamers and great developers. Despite some stiff competition from the rest of the world, the Finns have leveled up.