Comment & Opinion

How the new generation of Finnish start-ups are riding the winds of change

Neogames' Suvi Latva looks to the future

How the new generation of Finnish start-ups are riding the winds of change

Suvi Latva is a coordinator of Finnish game industry hub, Neogames.

Currently, there's a hunt for the next superstar developer studio and its next big mobile hit.

In my mind, there's no doubt it will come from Finland, but I think that if we are looking for another Supercell, we're looking for the wrong thing..

Next King/Queen of the Hill is going to be something different.

Faster, faster, pussycat

We see the rules and features of the game industry changing all the time, and the wheel is spinning faster and faster - the pace of changes is getting more hectic.

The success of Finnish game companies is, of course, based on excellent development skills but more than this, it's their ability to change strategies early enough to take advantage of gaps in the market and disruptions that stands out.

To be able to catch the best wave, you need to be able to predict when the waves are coming. You also need to know how to surf and accept there is a risk of falling off or perhaps even drowning.

Ironically, then, given my previous statement, while the pace of change is accelerating, mobile games themselves are in a kind of stagnation mode. We haven't seen too many new titles in the top grossing lists and the price of user acquisition is getting ridiculously high.

These are clear marks that the next big wave will be really big, impacting every level of game industry; platforms, content, users, marketing.

The future's in the air; emerging platforms

Personally, I'm following new emerging platforms with great curiosity. For example smart watches offer huge opportunities.

Everywear Games' Runeblade was a launch title for Apple Watch

It is not just another device or platform. For one thing, compared to phones, it's offers a really simple user interface but is it too simple? Also, as more people buy smart watches, we'll need content. As we all know, it's software that sells hardware.

So who will be the companies catching this big wave at just the right time and end up as winners in the game? Of course I vote for Finns; Everywear Games, Seriously and Gajatri Studios are already on their surf boards.

And further down the line, the virtual reality wave is starting to roll in too...

Distant memories and the definition of games

Looking back, instead of forward, at the beginning of millennium there was great buzz about gamification.

Lots of educational content was sugar-covered with gamified features; often adding 3D elements to educational content. But at that time this process was expensive to execute and the results often looked bad, not to mention the quality of the overall content.

The success of Finnish game companies is based on ... their ability to change strategies early.
Suvi Latva

That the end results weren't good, was - in my humble opinion - because people got carried away with the technology for its own sake. 3D graphics rarely add value in-and-of themselves.

And often, these gamified experiences lacked synergies between their game design and the educational content.

Even more challenging for companies in the sector was how to generate a profit. Who is the paying customer and is he/she willing to pay? One solution was to focus on business-to-business opportunities.

But, ten years ago, neither consumers, markets or products were ready for this approach. Maybe, following the penetration of touchscreens and mobile games into everyone's lives, the opportunity can be revisited.

This is particularly the case in terms of the health market, thanks to new sensors, such as smartwatches, GPS and heart rate monitors, which provide a new angle for gamified applications. The business potential is already being realised.

Disrupting traditions - something old something new

Finally, we are seeing Asian trends such as the hybridisation of virtual goods, gaming and instant messaging spreading to the west.

New Finnish start-up Futurefly is promising to serve up an intriguing mix of games and instant messages, while another Helsinki company worth keeping an eye on is Reforged Studios, which is bringing collectible features in whole new way to the fantasy games.

I strongly believe that when you mix already proven ingredients with something new, it will be more likely successful.

Let's see where the children of tomorrow share their dreams! regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.