Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 15, 2013

After Nokia, a mobile games boom in Finland

HELSINKI (AP) — From mobile phones to mobile games.

Finland has found there's life after Nokia in a bustling startup scene that's produced hugely popular game apps from "Angry Birds" to "Clash of Clans."

Mobile gaming is fast becoming the Nordic country's new flagship export industry, with revenues expected to double to 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) this year.

About 150 game developers were showcasing their ideas to global investors this week at the annual Slush conference — a hotspot for startups in Europe. The conference, which ended Thursday, has tripled in size from 2012, with investors representing venture capital funding worth more than $60 billion.

"The whole startup thing here is amazing," said New Zealander Duane Atkins, a former Nokia engineer who founded a startup of seven people in Helsinki providing software for social networks.

Many Finns hope startups in general and game developers in particular will preserve Finland's position as a high-tech hub as an era ends with the sale of the phone division of Nokia — once the industry bellwether — to Microsoft.

Although still small compared with Nokia, which in its prime had annual revenues of more than 30 billion euros, the games industry employs some 2,200 people in more than 180 companies nationwide.

According to UBM Tech, a global business information and data company, Finland ranked third in a survey this year of 300 leading European game developers who were asked where in Europe they thought the best games would come from five years from now. Only Germany and Britain — much bigger countries — ranked higher. Finland's neighbor Sweden ranked fourth.

One of the most buzzed-about Finnish game developers is Supercell, creator of "Clash of Clans" and "Hay Day" — top-grossing apps for Apple's iOS software in more than 100 countries.

Supercell started making the games for tablets in 2011 with half a dozen people. Last month, the company announced it was selling a 51 percent stake to Japanese investors for $1.5 billion.

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