Comment & Opinion

Why Rovio layoffs are just the end of the beginning of Finland's success

Neogames' KooPee Hiltunen on national sisu

Why Rovio layoffs are just the end of the beginning of Finland's success

Last week, Rovio - the crown jewel of Finnish game industry - announced that it will start negotiations to layoff 130 employees.

According to the information provided by Rovio's CEO on its blog, the cuts will be targeted to three key businesses; games, media, and consumer products.

For the general public, and especially for media, this came as a surprise.

Rovio and Angry Birds have been seen as an indestructible success story and a ray of hope after the Nokia disaster.

The question which was asked by all the non-game-industry people was inevitably: "Is this the end of Rovio and the whole Finnish game industry".

What's next?

The question might seem stupid, but actually it reflects the hopes and expectations towards the game industry.

Let me console you: there is no reason to be too worried.

First of all the game business is a business. Nothing lasts forever. Companies including the "big boys" have better days and worse days.

The Finnish game industry is way more than just one company.
KooPee Hiltunen

Angry Birds and its successors have been on the charts for almost five years. In addition to this, from its humble start, Rovio has managed to create a game brand larger than anything we have ever seen before.

Rovio has also expanded its activities to new business areas.

When a company is doing something like that there is always a risk involved and estimating the demands of this kind of growth is not easy.

There is no doubt these layoffs cause a lot of headache and demand for consideration to Rovio, but they should be well equipped for that kind of endeavor.

Strength in depth

Secondly, the Finnish game industry is way more than just one company, however big.

At the moment there are over 200 game studios in Finland. The industry employees over 2,500 professionals and there has been lot of investment pouring into the Finnish game industry.

The industry still needs more employees to ensure the growth.

In fact when Rovio announced their layoffs, PlayFinland Facebook group, which has almost 3,000 members and which serves as information and discussion channel for the Finnish game industry, was flooded with recruitment posts and open positions.

It was a delight to see that the ecosystem actually works.

End versus beginning

Although being successful in game industry has become structurally more difficult and the complexity of business environment has grown, the core of the industry is still the game itself.

What does it take to create a good game? I think four things: passion, skills, money and stamina.

In the Finnish game industry we have always had skills and passion. During recent years also money has been added to the equation. When it comes to stamina, well, we are Finns.

We have very own word for stamina (with steroids). It's sisu and that's something we have plenty.

As Sir Winston Churchill put it back in the day "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning".

KooPee Hiltunen is the director of Neogames Finland Association.

Neogames Finland Association is a member-based non-profit game industry organization, with the mission is to accelerate, coordinate, and support the development of the Finnish game cluster.

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