Although it has not traditionally been known as a hub for video game development, the video games sector in Finland has been experiencing significant growth in recent years.
In fact, according to recent industry reporting, the Finnish video games industry increased by 9% in 2020. This represented €2.4bn or $2.93bn in total revenue for the year.
Perhaps even more promisingly, of the development studios contributing to this figure, 46 studios had a turnover of more than $1m. This is a positive sign for the Finnish video games sector as a whole, as it indicates the potential for growth in the coming years. This is out of a total 240 active video game developer studios present in Finland.
It seems that despite being a relatively small country in demographic terms, Finland has a thriving video game sector which looks set to undergo substantial growth in the coming years!
Of the many titles that have been developed by these studios, what have proved to be the most popular among the growing number of video game fans in Finland?
What genres of games do Finns tend to produce?
Before we look at the specific Finnish video game titles that have proved successful, we should first get a sense of what genres of games they tend to produce.
Following the monumental success of Angry Birds, there has been a big focus on free-to-play games in the Finnish game development scene. Companies such as Rovio Entertainment and Supercell Games have produced popular titles that run on the free-to-play revenue model.
Another popular category of games includes online casino and iGaming titles. As online casinos have become increasingly popular with Finns, an increasing number of video game development studios have turned their hand towards developing these titles. To this end, we have seen many new online casinos in Finland pop up.
With these popular categories in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best titles to have emerged from Finland!
Angry Birds (2009)
Given the sheer popularity and cultural significance the game achieved, you would be practically negligent to make a list of the top Finnish video games and not include Angry Birds!
In many respects, the story of the rise of Angry Birds is a story about the history of smartphones. In 2009, Angry Birds emerged as one of the most popular titles released on the Apple App Store.
Although relatively simple in style and gameplay, Angry Birds went on to become a global super-hit. It was downloaded an estimated 12 million times. It also went on to spawn multiple instalments in the series across multiple devices, merchandise of varying quality and taste and even a much-maligned movie!
Needless to say, Angry Birds by the Finnish developer Rovio Entertainment has come to have quite an impact on the gaming world!
Max Payne (2001)
Max Payne is an oft-forgotten classic that came out in 2001. It was developed by the Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment, although later instalments in the series would be produced by Rockstar Studios.
When it was first released, Max Payne went on to be a big hit across several different consoles, including PlayStation. Fans praised it for its unique gameplay — most memorably the ‘bullet time’ feature — and epic storytelling.
It was also a game with a clear Finnish imprint. There is something unmistakably Scandinavian about the gritty neo-noir storytelling and the evocative winter scenes.
Although it was popular and iconic in its own right when it was released, we are often quick to forget just how good it actually was when it was released. With that said, we would heartily recommend giving it another playthrough if you ever get the time!
Habbo Hotel (2000)
Another weird and wonderful title released by Finnish video game developers is Habbo Hotel.
Released by Finnish developers in 2000, Habbo Hotel was an online community with video game elements that was released just as the internet was coming of age. Released during the crazy ‘dot com’ boom of the early 2000s, Habbo Hotel gave young people the opportunity to lose themselves in a digital world where virtual characters moved around a cartoonishly rendered hotel to casually chat with other users.
The blend of real-time interactions with individuals from across the world, customizability and the unique aesthetic, make Habbo Hotel an incredibly memorable title that was very much of its time. Who knows, with the rise of the Metaverse in the coming decades, many of us may make a return visit to the Habbo Hotel!