04 Jun How Basic Income Could Allow Finland To Dominate The Games Market
Today, I was browsing Facebook (relax Joni, it was work related!) and I happened upon a trending topic that I am quite familiar with. Finland. Some stories have been circulating in huge media outlets (like these on Forbes, Telegraph, National Post, and MTV News) related to a recent proposition circulating the Finnish government regarding basic income. The plan basically amounts to Finland giving every citizen and Class A resident an €800/month basic income. It is merely a pilot program that needs to be tested at the moment, however. I immediately hated it. Not because I’m against basic income or anything (I am actually a supporter of the concept), but just because I knew a lot of Facebook Friend-type folks from back home in the U.S. would now start pelting me with questions, or worse: opinions fueled by incorrect sources that are swarming with factual inaccuracies.
Once I got past that little hang-up, I loved it. I realized that if this pilot program is successful and this is implemented, Finland will be put into a position that may make it home to even more dominant gaming companies than it currently has, especially in the indie sector. I smiled pretty big as I thought about the beautiful growth the industry might experience here.
Finland is uniquely suited for this potential market domination for a variety of reasons. For those of you who don’t know much about Finland, allow me to explain. Finland is currently home to a lot of big names in gaming. Rovio, Supercell, Remedy, RedLynx, and Colossal Order, just to name a few. It is also home to a great many more smaller indie studios that (while not as successful as those others) are respectable in their own right. Studios such as Kyy Games, Vasara Entertainment, Aeonic Entertainment, and (if I may be so bold) our own studio, Dreamloop Games.
Finland has such a huge game development culture for a variety of reasons, but we’ll try to simplify it to a few factors:
- Finland invested heavily in IT/Computer Science education and infrastructure in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. They continue to do so to this day.
- They offer free higher education to anyone who can meet visa or residence requirements and pass entrance examinations (and even give student’s a living financial aid supplemental grant in the case of Class A residents and Citizens).
- Beyond computer science fields of study, there are also many art and media fields of study, and even solid game development-specific programs at these public universities.
- Solid unemployment benefits and socialized healthcare have allowed independent hobbyist game developers (programmers, artists, etc.) who are out of work to subsist long enough to turn their passion into a viable project.
This makes Finland a country ripe for a strong game development industry with these factors alone, and with several multi-million dollar companies (and some valued in the billions) in a country of only 5.6 million people, it is obviously working in practice as well. There is no clear answer to “how many indie developers are in Finland”, but you can bet your bottom dollar it is probably quite high in terms of indie devs per capita. If basic income is widely utilized, it’s also going to get a lot better. Armed with a combination of education, the experience you can gain by interning at one of the successful studios we have here in Finland, and a basic income should this plan come to pass into reality, Finnish indie developers would be in a perfect position to dominate the world indie games market.
Finland would be handing budding entrepreneurs of all types (specifically in game development) the means to sustain themselves while they work on passion projects that could become the next huge title. Gone would be the days of studios popping up and vanishing shortly after in a burst of flames and sighs of exasperation before their meager funding can yield a viable concept product. With a few like-minded friends, class-mates, or previous co-workers, a little bit of part-time side work, and the willingness to live lean, Finnish indies could blaze through full-time development nearly endlessly while working toward their shared dream. All you need to add is the hard work and discipline to finish the job. This is something Finns aren’t strangers to, as the strong startup culture in Finland clearly indicates.
It wouldn’t even particularly matter if there was room on the market for the titles produced, as we have seen that indie devs love to develop, even when there is no promise of success. Some titles would assuredly find their niche and achieve market success, spawning new behemoths in the industry. Even if only .001% were successful, developers would be making games, learning skills, and preparing to potentially join the more successful teams as they expand.
This is clearly speculative, but as someone who has basically done this (subsisted on tiny pay and student aid while I study and help teams develop games) it isn’t hard to imagine that in the future this could be a standard practice, not only in gaming, but for all sorts of entrepreneurial pursuits. There are winds of change blowing. They may only now be gentle stirrings, but who knows… these little stirrings may be pushing Finnish developers toward a new era of market domination in independent game development.
About The Author:
Steve Stewart is the Co-Founder and CMO of Dreamloop Games. Raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Steve is a proud U.S. Navy veteran, and a joke-telling, whiskey drinking, son of a gun, hell-bent on surviving the zombie apocalypse and making good games. Science Fiction keeps his gears turning when he steps away from the office, and a solid love of stand up comedy and laughter keeps him smiling. Heck, he’s probably laughing right now…