What makes Helsinki the “Home of Mobile Gaming”? | Pocket Gamer.biz

If you need a primer on why Helsinki is considered the “Home of Mobile Gaming”, then we’re here to help. Much has been written about what special mobile alchemy is at work in Finland, but most accounts only scratch the surface as to what’s going on behind the scenes and deep within Finland’s culture and history that makes this magic happen.

The place for mobile

Blame Nokia. While the once ubiquitous mobile phone giant may have faded into obscurity alongside today’s smartphone heavyweights such as Samsung and Apple, Nokia is undeniably a name to cherish and to give full credit to in its native homeland. In the late 90s to and through the early 2000s, Nokia was the most dominant mobile phone manufacturer worldwide. Their work – producing easy to use hardware and software that everyone could afford and get to grips with – helped usher in the interconnected age, and facilitated much of the infrastructure that we all take for granted today.

Because of the ubiquity of Nokia’s handsets the networks that they ran on flourished and grew ever faster. Caught in an endless loop of progress, handsets got better and networks more able to support them. Without Nokia’s pioneering phones showing how it could be done, today’s interconnected world would certainly be a whole lot different, or even perhaps not exist at all.

For many, Nokia’s success is emblematic of the continual reiteration, innovation and dedication that the Finnish tech sector has shown. Such resilience and desire to improve really is built into the national culture and the evidence is all around us. For companies such as Supercell, experimentation and failure is a natural process. While other companies revel in meteoric growth with a desire to cash out asap (or crumble at the first sign of adversity) the Finns are firm in their standing, being here for the long run and always with an eye on the greater good.

Head of gaming at tech company Reaktor, Sartita Runeberg comments, “The cultural situation here is that we’re allowed to try and fail, and then try again. That’s how many of the gaming companies have started, when you don’t have to worry about failing you can be much braver.” It’s a scenario that will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s observed Supercell’s notoriously ruthless approach to culling its own underperforming titles.

The Finnish gaming community stands out for its exceptional commitment to knowledge exchange. No wonder PGC Helsinki is one of my personal highlights in my packed calendar! – Appsflyer’s Adam Smart

Added international appeal

And perhaps thanks to those big ideas and bold intentions, the city now attracts a huge amount of talent thanks to a relatively low cost of living, excellent transport links and an infrastructure built to support the tech industry. Many came from overseas to join the country’s thriving game development industry buoyed up by good salaries and companies that put employees first. And while there are worries that government policy may upset Finland’s perfect storm of talent acquisition, such moves are – so far – yet to be enacted.

“We need MORE top talent here. We don’t want to drive them away,” says Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen. “This rule would be catastrophic for Finland’s reputation, it sends a completely wrong signal.” And certainly, Finland, and Helsinki’s ability to bring in top talent is a formula that’s worked like a charm so far.

It’s equally appealing for international visitors, as noted by AppsFlyer’s Adam Smart, is that “Helsinki is not only a captivating city but also home to some of the world’s most groundbreaking gaming enterprises. The Finnish gaming community stands out for its exceptional commitment to knowledge exchange. No wonder PGC Helsinki is one of my personal highlights in my packed calendar!”

And money talks…

And of course, the plentiful injection of some cold hard cash can’t hurt either. In terms of wider financial appeal, Helsinki, along with its quality of life and burgeoning talent pool, is also a heavyweight.

Finland, as recently as 2020, had the highest video game revenue compared to the population of any country in the world. That’s including huge heavyweights such as China and the United States. The fact that a country as relatively small as Finland can boast this sort of success is hugely telling.

The Finnish government has played a good hand, putting its money where its mouth is and investing and supporting tech while other countries remained more cautious. Like that willingness to try and fail (knowing that success will eventually come) so Finland’s investment in small businesses and their willingness to see new success in new growth areas finally germinate has quietly powered its mobile revolution.

The appeal of Helsinki lies not in some ephemeral “aura” like Hollywood or Las Vegas, but in the very real history and material appeal of developing and building mobile gaming businesses in the city. With each financial year showing continued growth of the mobile sector it’s clear that Finland is still the one to watch and Helsinki is still its hotbed.

Finding your feet in Helsinki

All of which kind of spells out why Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2023 is so important. As the country’s biggest international mobile event it’s your gateway to the Finnish market and beyond.

We’re not only showcasing local talent – allowing international visitors to get a taste of the country and culture and learn what all the fuss is about – but we’re also bringing in the biggest and best industry experts from every mobile business from all across the world.

Our ever growing schedule of talks and panels is second to none, and our bevy of fringe and mixer events where you can chat and make connections are officially legendary.

Like the Finnish mobile industry itself, PGC Helsinki is long established, and we’ve had years to get it right!

Want to be part of the action? There’s JUST time to grab a ticket and we can’t wait to meet you there. Find out all about the event and get your tickets here. See you in Helsinki, September 12 -13!

Photo by Alexandr Bormotin on Unsplash