Interview

How Play Finland is shining a light on Finland's flourishing games industry

How Play Finland is shining a light on Finland's flourishing games industry
Amid Game Connection 2012's labyrinth of mono-branded booths in Paris, Play Finland's generously populated banners tell an altogether more inclusive story that of their neighbours.

The brainchild of NeoGames director KooPee Hiltunen and consultant Suvi Latva, the Play Finland project aims to draw the world's gaze to Finland's rapidly expanding industry of games developers.

"We are a central hub, and also a service provider", explains Hiltunen, who sits flanked by images of Finnish success stories like Clash of Clans and Alan Wake.

In exchange for a registration fee, Hiltunen and Latva's non-profit enterprise offers advice, support, and event promotion to those developers who need it most.

"At the moment we have 150 game companies, and 60 of them are less than 3 years old", Hiltunen continues. "There are lots of new start-up companies which need to have some kind of exposure, and we're trying to help them as best we can."

Rising stars

According to the enthusiastic pair, the key to cultivating a healthy crop of successful studios is spotting talent, and identifying studios that fit will benefit most from the opportunities they offer.

"We are trained to find good matches", Hiltunen states.

"If you think about some Finnish game studios [which we have worked with] – Rovio, Supercell, Remedy – they are the rising stars of the games industry".


Rovio's Angry Birds Space

Of course, once a studio breaks through, the Play Finland team is free to concentrate its efforts on helping startups which are, as Latva puts it, "about to succeed".

Despite the screenshots and game images which adorn surrounding booklets and posters, Hiltunen and Latva make it known that their focus is not on the product, but on the producers.

As Latva later points out, "We are not promoting games – we are promoting industry and companies through games".

Keen competition

With such an open-handed approach to up-and-coming developers, conflict between companies vying for attention could easily creep in – something of which the NeoGames team is acutely aware.

"We have been very careful not to get too involved with some of the companies," Hiltunen admits.

"We have to be fair", agrees Latva. "We can't just promote one company. We promote the whole industry."


Supercell's Clash of Clans

Education is also part of the Play Finland's wide-reaching mandate. The team commits part of its time to co-organising lectures at universities and schools, as well as encouraging dialogue and supporting events within the development community.

However, when it comes to throwing its own hat into the development ring, Hiltunen and Latva know which side of the ropes they're rather be on.

"I've seen my share of game developers", confides Hiltunen, "and I don't envy them one little bit. I'm an entrepreneur myself, but game development is very tricky."
You can find out more about Play Finland on the group's Facebook page, or NeoGames' website.

Enchanted from a young age by colour, motion, and sound, James divides his time between obsessing over all things digital and lamenting the death of VHS. He looks forward to a future where machines rule the earth and all political disputes are solved via one round of rock-paper-scissors.

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