Finnish Game Day '18 in St. Petersburg


Finnish Game Day is a free, one-day, "East meets West" style event where industry leaders from Finland discuss topics like investments in games, publishing and international markets, attracting and retaining talent at game studios and Finland as a place to grow you game company. Panelists will share their views about trends in the market, discuss business opportunities. 

Details and agenda, along with registration for the event, can be found at:

Finnish Game Day is hosted in cooperation with the White Nights Conference, an international game development and marketing event that follows Finnish Game Day on June 28th-29th. As a bonus, the first 15 Finnish game studios participating in Finnish Game Day ’18, will get a special package sponsored by Business Finland: A free private booth with two free standard tickets to the White Nights conference

Sign up here by June 8th to reserve your booth. Be sure to enter "Play Finland" under “How did you find out about the conference?" so the organizers will know you’re are attending our event. The first 15 applicants will get a free booth!

Given that St. Petersburg is one of the host cities for the World Cup, hotels and transport will likely be booked to capacity. Here's a two page info sheet with tips on travel, accommodations, and Russian visas.  

Get 15% off White Nights St. Petersburg

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The next White Nights conference will be held on June 28-29, 2018 in St. Petersburg. Over 1,600 attendees are expected. 

The program is available on the conference website. The conference will additionally feature workshops held by Google, Facebook and iOS representatives. Pre-registratin for these sessions is required on the conference website. 

The Developer Exhibition will once again be held as a part of the White Nights, where over 150 talented teams from all over the world will showcase their best games in order to meet leading publishers, representatives of platforms, investors and to receive valuable feedback from industry gurus and fellow colleagues. Best of the best will receive a trophy and great prizes at the Indie Game Cup Awards Ceremony. We are accepting applications for the Developer Exhibition ( and for the Indie Game Cup until June 8, 2018. 

The agenda also includes great networking events: a pre-party sponsored by Unreal Engine to be held on the day preceding the event and the main all-night party on the huge sailing ship The Flying Dutchman at the end of the first day.

IGDA Finland members get 15% off the ticket price by using promo code IGDA-Finland on the conference website.

Information on obtaining Russian visa is on the conference website

Helsinki Hub: May Gathering with PlayFab

By Giorgos Riskas and Roope Sorvo

The May gathering was sponsored by PlayFab, a complete backend platform built exclusively for live games.

Brendan Vanous, head of developer success at PlayFab/Microsoft was really impressed with how inclusive the game development community is in Finland. As he said, in many other communities competitiveness make developers grow isolated and he is really happy to see that this is not the case.

In his brief talk, Vanous spoke about live game operations and how they can shape the future of the gaming industry. Live operations, or LiveOps, help games to grow according to the needs of the users, so that they can be evolve and therefore, live longer.

Vanous described how the growth of mobile games has changed the scene since the early 2000s and how LiveOps services have played their part in driving the mobile industry to the top. The said services allow developers to either complement their existing infrastructure or adopt the LiveOps platform in its entirety.

Probably the most interesting part of the presentation was the comparison between two teams of developers that followed different approaches on how to engage their audience. One of the said teams kept collecting data and tried to stay aligned with what the audience needed, in contrast to the other one that stopped their support after some early updates. The results indicate that the old way of supporting games as in the previous decades is not anymore viable in the live games market.

“The developers should always listen to their community’s feedback and build on it”, Vanous said. “That’s the way to do things nowadays, and unfortunately many people don’t understand that,” he added.

This time the Demo Corner was divided into two distinct categories: projects by Aalto University students, and independent game projects that both happened to make their second appearance in the IGDA Demo Corner.

It was the first time that Aalto students had the opportunity to gather valuable feedback outside their university. The games were developed as part of a course and is a collaboration effort between different Master’s programs of Aalto’s Media Lab. The 3 featured projects have been in development for roughly five months by teams of five to six students.

PlusMinus is a third person puzzle game in which the main character uses magnetism to fight enemies and solve puzzles. The story of the game finds the main character trying to escape from the system in futuristic dystopian world.

Metsä is an atmospheric hybrid installation game that is played while sitting in a dark tent. The player controls the footsteps of their avatar by pressing two individual buttons situated on a blanket, attempting to make their way through a dark woodland avoiding obstacles by jumping and sneaking.

Hidden Wish is an asymmetrical co-op adventure game with a combination of different mechanics. The stylized game mixes 3D segments with literally hand drawn levels where first player makes their way through a 2D platformer, meanwhile the second player uses a more cursor-oriented UI to create a path for the other player by moving around different parts of the levels.

In addition, two games made their second appearance in IGDA.

Exploding Babies was developed by Nut Farm during the Global Game Jam and is a hectic 4-player battle arena game where the players try to win by detonating the babies of other players using sound waves. The developers’ return to the demo corner of IGDA after March is part of their focus on live events where they can get people to try it in teams of 4 and test its full potential.

Another team that returned to the demo corner was LunarByte, with their first title Trail of Relics, a puzzle game where the player draws a path for their avatar through increasingly difficult mazes. The game has been in development for about half a year and it is currently on beta. As the developers said, the feedback that they receive at IGDA gatherings is a lot better than average which helps them focus on the areas that they should during the development.

See you in August!


IGDA Nordics Party at Nordic Game 2018

Facebook event

Welcome to the IGDA Nordics Party!
Nordic Game Conference 2018 is taking place in Malmö on 23-25th of May. We are delighted to announce that this year, IGDA chapters from Nordic countries are joining forces to make the BIGGEST IGDA PARTY ever and we wish to highlight our gaming companies in this event. 

When and where?
23rd of May, after the first day of the conference we will gather at 20:00 in Moriska Paviljongen, Norra Parkgatan 2, 214 22 Malmö, Sweden. 

A HUGE thanks goes to our main sponsor Fingersoft and associate sponsor Apprien!

Get 20% off the Helsinki Game Music Festival

The Helsinki Game Music Festival is a one-day event dedicated to video game music and features performances the Game Music Collective and more!

The festival kicks off at 14:00 at the Helsinki Hall of Culture on May 5th. 

For more information visit the event website:

IGDA members get 20% all ticket categories when using the link below:

Please note: Normal prices are 39, 49, 59, and 69 Euros and the discount will automatically be applied when clicking the link.  

Helsinki Hub: April seminar and gathering with Futureplay and AppsFlyer

Text by Giorgos Riskas and Roope Sorvo, photos by Casimir Kuusela

The April IGDA Helsinki Hub Gathering was sponsored by AppsFlyer and Futureplay.

AppsFlyer specializes in mobile attribution and marketing analytics, with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Snap Inc., Tencent and 3,500+ other integrated partners, and clients including HBO, Alibaba, Skyscanner, and Activision.

In his seminar, “The State of Gaming App Marketing: Data Benchmarks,” Patrik Lehti, a senior sales manager at AppsFlyer, talked about attribution and how the information it offers can help the developers understand where users come from, how to maintain their established user base, and what actions they should take to grow.

His presentation covered the topics of marketing, installs, engagement, revenue and return of investment, though Lehti did a lot more than simply scratching the surface on the mentioned topics: he offered insights and dug deeper into the platform specifics of Android and iOS.

Patrik Lehti addressing the audience. Photo by Casimir Kuusela

Patrik Lehti addressing the audience. Photo by Casimir Kuusela

One of the most important aspects of his talk was the relation between organic and non-organic engagement, and how it impacts on retention, revenue, and return of investment. As Lehti explained, both types of engagement are needed since they affect different fields of the user acquisition. Lehti also took some time to talk about the rising phenomenon of fraud: how developers can be tricked into a bleeding cash cycle and waste valuable resources on high value campaigns based on fraudulent information.  “Developers should always keep an eye for anomalies and act quickly when they show up,” he said.“They should stay close to their attribution team since their job is to protect them from cases like that”.

Futureplay is a studio that in their own words believes in playfulness and fast shipping instead of rigid processes, endless iterations, and burnout epidemics. They have released six games in the last three years, and show no signs of stopping.

Jami Laes, CEO and co-founder of Futureplay discussed soft launches and early access in his presentation “Creating a New Category of Multiplayer Games by Launching as Early as Possible”.

The presentation shared details on how the company’s “View-to-Play” monetization model has worked out so far, as well as their ambition of creating a new category of casual yet competitive multiplayer games. Multiplayer Online Casual Competitive Arena games, or MOCCA for short, combine elements of .io games, MOBAs, and battle royale games.

Laes also explained the importance of soft launching their games very early. The purpose of the so-called ‘minimum awesome product’ is to realize early on if the game works, and whether or not to develop it further. That way they can validate the direction, and updates are developed based on data and feedback from the community. “The biggest risk that we take by releasing early, is that a game won’t work. But that’s exactly the point of trying it!”, Laes said. When asked about the seemingly big transition from idle to MOCCA games, Laes answered: “If there is a good level of experience and a solid plan on the correct direction and technology to be used, the transition becomes a lot easier to make”.

“There had been a research period of six months before we started development,” he added

After the seminars ended, everybody had some time to relax, socialize and enjoy their evening. The speakers seemed to be very popular, so they were constantly trying to make space for everyone that wanted to talk with them.

Tristin Hightower, the Director of Operations of IGDA also attended the event. She is spending the month in Europe for personal reasons, but while abroad, she is doing outreach with IGDA Chapter and SIG leaders at various events, Her first trip aboard was to Finland in 2016, so it has a special place in her heart. She always enjoys being part of the IGDA community, and she has attended various events in Helsinki and Turku and has a fondness for Porvoo, which she visited in on her first trip.

Also visiting  Helsinki was Felicia Prehn. She is a manager and accessibility adviser at Nopia, as well as an active crewmember in IGDA Finland’s Satakunta Hub. Nopia is an animation and game company that has worked on ads for the likes of Mercedes Benz and Tactic, as well as games like HALO 5 and Wolfenstein II.

The day prior the gathering Prehn gave a presentation called “Looking Bright – the Current Landscape of Accessibility for Gamers with Disabilities” as a part of Aalto University’s Games Now! lecture series. The presentation focused on raising awareness for accessibility, and how it is an issue that touches everyone. She was on hand during the gathering ready to discuss accessibility issues in games with anyone interested. “Approaching accessibility only as a problem of the few who need it is a wrong way to think about it”, Prehn says, “Accessibility features can be beneficial also for those who do not need them.”

Attendees absorbed in a session of LaserGrid. Photo by Casimir Kuusela.

Attendees absorbed in a session of LaserGrid. Photo by Casimir Kuusela.

The month’s demo corner was occupied by two titles. From Village to Empire, has been in development for 1.5 years by the one-man company Witch Laboratory. In this turn-based strategy game the player assumes control of a civilization and advances in a procedurally generated map in order to grow and take control of it. The game should be released on Steam in the coming months. LaserGrid is a multiplayer SHMUP where up to four players take on one another in a four-way fight to the death. It is being developed by a  five-person team of Metropolia students.

See you on May 15th.

20% off for Game Music Collective concert in Turku!

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Game Music Collective is giving to IGDA members 20% off from VIP tickets at their TURKU gig in Logomo!

It includes concert and after-party 🎮😎🥂

Use code: IGDAVIPxGMC, for receiving 33e VIP ticket

Menestyksekkään ensikonserttinsa innoittamana, Game Music Collective lähtee Suomen-kiertueelle ja saapuu myös Logomoon. Konsertissa nähdään ja kuullaan täysipainoinen pelimusiikkikokemus toteutettuna isolla orkesterilla sekä mieskuorolla.

Konsertissa soitetaan musiikkia mm. seuraavista pelisarjoista: Final Fantasy, Destiny, Chrono Trigger, Elder Scrolls, Undertale, Halo, Secret of Mana, Angry Birds, Journey, Mega Man ja Kingdom Hearts. Konserttien visualisoinneista vastaa kotimaisiin kärkinimiin kuuluva videotaiteiilija VJ Sellekhanks. VIP-lippu takaa paikan VIP-alueelta konsertissa, vain VIP-lippulaisille järjestetyn afterpartyn Logomossa konsertin jälkeen yhdessä muusikoiden kanssa sekä pelimusiikkiaiheisen paneelikeskustelun ennen Game Music Collectiven konserttia.

Get 20% off your ticket for Nordic Game Conference 2018!


Discount offer on NG18 tickets

Nordic Game offers you a very special 20% discount on conference passes for this year’s event, 23‐25 May, in Malmö, Sweden.

This is how you do it:

Hurry up, go to, push the “Register” button, check the “Organisation discount” box, choose “IGDA” from the drop down menu, and then enter the code “XJ7VnpGDsM” in the “Discount Code” box.

CEO Summit in Cyprus Tickets Still Available


White Nights Conference organizers are inviting game industry top managers to their CEO Summit in Limassol, Cyprus. The conference aims to create a dialog where leaders can share their experience and concerns in a setting of openness and trust. Topics include work/life balance, growing a global company, taxes & legislation, recruitment & corporate culture.

Attendance is limited to 250 people and is only for game industry executives. Participants need to apply using the following form:

IGDA Finland members get a 10% discount using promo code: IGDA-Finland


Get 10% off your ticket to Game Access


Game Access is an annual game industry conference that will take place in Brno, Czech Republic on 1-2 June, 2018. The conference is expected to attract more than 1000 game developers to the Brno Exhibition Center (BVV). The event also features an indie showcase that is accepting applications until April 30, 2018, 23:59 CEST

IGDA Finland members get a 10% discounts on standard and premium tickets. 

For more information visit the conference website: 

Turku Hub - Report from February Gathering With NAPCON


”To err is human. To improve is NAPCON” says the slogan. NAPCON brought a whole team of people to their presentation at the IGDA Turku Hub February Gathering.

What is NAPCON? It is a company that is part of Neste, and they make games to teach operators how to operate different complex industrial plants.

It takes years to learn to operate these systems, and previously teaching was done with normal classroom and textbook studies. Newbies got mentoring from senior operators as they learned how to run the operator systems. The idea of NAPCON is that educational games could make this process much more effective, and fun. Speaking of fun: David Hasselhoff promotes the company’s games in a series of commercials.

Learning how to run petrochemical plants and biorefineries is very complicated. It takes a lot of skill to control a plant. The systems are more complex than passenger air planes. It takes years to learn all the dynamics, says NAPCON production manager Tuomo. With the game the operators can learn the basic principles and controls. So far there have not been many good tools to train the operators.

At the same time the simulations need to be innovative. The games have to be accurate representations of the real thing. At the gathering the audience had a chance to see the game in action.

The development team consists of people with different skill sets, but most have a background in chemical engineering. The team wants to make customer oriented educational games. The operators need to learn the right things. That is why the team has close contact to the industrial customers, visiting the plants and so on. Pedagogical skills are of course also important in developing educational games. NAPCON is a tiny unit, and that means they can be flexible like a startup, and make fast changes.

The learning process has also been gamified by company wide operator competitions: the operator world cup. This way the operators can also show off their skills. And like the Hoff says: it is important to stay zen and keep cool in stressful situations. This is certainly tested in the operator world cup.

Q & A with the audience:

Q: Is the UI same as the real refinery?

A: The UI is a simplification, it kind of looks similar but not quite. We wanted to make it more pleasant, beautiful and more illustrative. So you get an idea of what is happening in there. We replicate the information and the numbers, and let them learn step by step

Q: Can anyone play?

A: It starts easy… *Natasha tries the game, and fails miserably after few minutes :D* If you know nothing you might have to read something about processes.

Q: Do you have levels where there are no right answers?

A: We considered it, but situations where you cant do anything are not so educational.

Q: Will the player see what went wrong?

A: There is a ”game over”. When something went wrong, something was not allowed. In most situations there is feedback for how you can do better etc.

Q: You don’t have a game designer in your team, how do actually get your player on board the game? Where is the game designer?

A: I would not say we don’t have game designers. Most of us are multidiscipline people that have connections to game development, but we also use outsourcing. We don’t have graphic designers, that is also outsourced. We are bit by bit expanding knowledge in game design, and we do have some serious hard core gamers in the team. FYI we have an office in Turku.

Q: The best learning comes from fun. How do you make it fun? Who is responsible for making the fun? And the team that won the world cup, did they get more money?

A: We don’t know what the Hungarians got :D Some companies do connect the salary level to the education that operators have.

On the fun side, it’s hard to make educational games fun. We have to take the aspect of the game being closely tied to the real environment, and then adding a layer of gamification around something that is complex.

Q: You said you have done this to biochemical companies, what other fields?

A: Customers in bioindustry. But with the generic games, like distillation games, it doesn’t matter what industry teaches the fundamentals. Then we make tailor made games for specific customers related to their industry. These are not as fun…

Q: The score: what are the criteria for the first level and the process score? Could these be used for cruise ships?

A: Scores are tied to what we want to teach. Yes, why not for cruise ships!

ReVersed Submissions Closing Soon

The Big Indie Fest at ReVersed is an indie developer focus gaming event taking place in Vienna this summer from July 5-8. Game submissions for the event will be closing March 31st.

The Big Indie Fest is open to alpha, beta, and even early published games, so don’t hesitate to sign up even if you just have a demo you’d like to present; as long as it’s playable.

If your game is selected your team will get:

    Access to exclusive meeting system
    Access to all talks & workshops
    One table: 1,2 x 0,80m
    Up to 4 chairs
    In case of VR: 2 – 3m²
    Power strip

For more information visit:


Helsinki Hub: Non-Commerical March

By Giorgos Riskas and Roope Sorvo

The March IGDA Finland gathering at the Helsinki Hub was a non-commercial celebration. It was the first unsponsored Helsinki event in a number of years and opted to focus on other non-profit game initiatives taking place across Finland.

The seminar highlighted the work of industry wide game consortium that has been working together to address the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation. The talks were an introduction and warm up for a bigger GDPR event that will be held at the Supercell office on March 28th. Anyone working for a game development studio interested in joining the upcoming GDPR event, should send an email to gdpr (at) neogames (dot) fi.

Neogames Senior Policy Analyst Jari-Pekka Kaleva, presented six steps to prepare your company for the upcoming changes. He highlighted the practice of implementing “privacy by design”, which will require both big companies and indie developers have to adopt a new mindset when it comes to handling data and how the new rules  affect their revenue. “The fact is that this is a new situation and it is hard predict how exactly games industry will change ”, Kaleva said, “But we definitely have to start implementing the new rules now  and see where that leads on the long term.”

Petri Hyökyranta, CTO of Rovio Games, has recently been busy interpreting how to best implement the GDPR requirements into games. He shared how Rovio is approaching the upcoming changes. Over the course of last few years, Rovio has worked alongside several other Finnish game studios and policy analysts to create an industry wide GDPR task force where game developers can get info they need regarding the upcoming changes, exchange thoughts and seek opinions and views, all in one convenient space. Hyökyranta says that as of now there are no definitive right answers regarding the best plan going forward, but game teams  need to understand what data they are collecting, why it is being collected and how it is being processed. It is clear that the best approach to addressing the GDPR is working in a collaboration with and between  game developers all over Europe and new companies are joining the task force daily. Anyone interested to joining the task force, should contact J-P or Petri to get things started.

Kaisa Salakka, Product Director at Unity, talked about how GDPR will affect monetization in games, using Unity as an example. Like Hyökyranta, Salakka believes that at the moment everything is a bit blurry regarding the legislation, and that it might take a few years for companies to adjust to the changes. The procedure of getting there might have some revenue impact for both indie developers and bigger companies. She also believes that change of regulations in the European Union might be a disadvantage to those in competition with companies outside the EU.

The presentations sparked a lot of conversation and questions in the audience, which featured noticeably more top management participants than usual. The audience and speakers concurred that the regulation will impact student projects and educational institutions will need to adapt their curricula to adapt to the upcoming changes.

The serious tone of seminar was lifted, when Jonne Harja, board member of Finnish Game Jam Association and super jammer Samuli Jääskeläinen gave a lighter presentation about game jams the activities of the Finnish Game Jam (FGJ). The entertaining duo showcased many of the weird jams and stunts the association has organized jamming in a bus, in a remote cabin in the middle of wilderness (Survival Jam), and on back of a bike (JamBike).

Appropriately, the Demo Corner featured games from two events organized by FGJ, the Sami Game Jam in February, and this year’s Global Game Jam, featuring the theme of ‘transmission’. My Turn to Pew is a turn-based SHMUP where the player moves in 1-second bursts, and the world around the ship only moves during that same time. Incoming Transmission is a simple 2D game where the player pilots a ship with an increasing delay between the player inputs and the ship’s response, asking the player to be able to predict and calculate further and further ahead. Wasteland Trader is a post-apocalyptic exploration game where the player trades items with other entities they encounter in order to collect pieces required to repair a radio tower. Exploding Babies is a hectic 4-player battle arena game where the players try to win by detonating the babies of other players using sound waves.

Despite the lack of a sponsor, nearly 300 people turned out for event.


Theme Park Organizing Free Art Workshops in May

Theme Park is organizing two wonderful three-day workshops in Kouvola on May 25-27 at the Meduusa studio. The workshops will be lead by Ivan Smirnov and Evgeniya Zherebtsova, two professional teachers from the Smirnovschool, an online digital art school. They both have nearly a decade of experience in creating art for entertainment industry.

Please note that both classes require intermediate knowledge of Photoshop and will be running simultaneously, so it’s impossible to attend both of them.

For more information and to sign-up please visit the Eventbrite page:

Theme Park is a group of people passionate about making art for the entertainment industry, who want to share their knowledge with other professionals, hobbyists and students.



Reboot Develop Reduced by 10%


Reboot Develop 2018 is taking place in the historical city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, from 19th to 21st of April. In its fifth year, it solidifies its position as a worldwide game industry event with continued growth. This year's conference promises more than 1500+ attendees from 600+ international companies representing an intriguing mix of big established game development studios as well as 100+ indie studios, countless representatives of investors and publishers as well as most of the key tech companies from the game industry.

IGDA Finland members get 10% off standard tickets using promocode: REBOOTFINLAND2018

Visit the conference website for more information:

Get 20% off Game Dev Days in Tallinn


Game Dev Days is right around the corner and IGDA Members get 20% off standard tickets using promo code IGDAFIN. Game Dev Days is a great knowledge sharing event where business meets creativity.

Attention Indies! The deadline for submitting your game to the Game Village is March 15th.  Game Village is the conference's indie project showcase and competition where developers can present their latest games and get feedback from experts and conference attendees. The best project will be selected during the show and be awarded by a special prize and automatically qualify for Casual Connect's Indie Prize competition. 

The Game Village package includes: 2 Standard conference passes, demo space to showcase their game, and access to the workshops.

Check out the conference website for more information:

Helsinki Hub: Bravo, February, Bravo

By Giorgos Riskas and Roope Sorvo

IGDA’s first gathering in Helsinki in 2018 IGDA started with a blast.

London-based BRAVOCOMPANY, stepped in at the last moment to sponsor the February event and showed cased their tactical team combat game Forces of Freedom. The company have coin the term “Coffee Break eSports”, which they use to describe a competitive real time team multiplayer games that can be played in 4 minute sessions.

In his seminar “Forces of Freedom in Early Access: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!”, Florian Stronk, the co-founder and CEO of BRAVOCOMPANY, openly discusses the development process of Forces of Freedom, the company's first game.

In his presentation he didn’t shy away from the things that went wrong in development; sharing anecdotes that serve as learning moments and advice for the future.

Much emphasis was given to the importance of the community. When BRAVOCOMPANY first started, the team was short on resources and experience but full of ambition and passion for what they were doing. Now they would like to let other people benefit from the experience they gave gained throughout their development process.

Heavy emphasis was also placed on communication between the developer and the players. According to Stronk, the most important aspect of this communication is honesty, admitting one’s mistakes and taking whatever action is required to handle issues at hand.

Forces of Freedom was also available for play in the traditional IGDA demo corner. The team-based third person shooter pits two 5-person teams against each other over multiple game modes, with matches clocking in around four minutes. The full version is planned to feature multiple classes from scout to sniper, with maps spanning around the globe and covering over 50 years of history.

Despite the game drawing from real life military history, the game’s purpose is to bring people together across national borders. The matchmaking system used puts people from several different countries in the same team.

The game has already attracted more than 10 million players in Google Play’s Early Access. Based on organic traction and reassuring metrics, the company is focused on evolving Forces of Freedom into an entertainment product to be enjoyed over the years.


IGDA Board of Directors Election - 2018

On behalf of IGDA Finland, we wish to remind you that IGDA org has open election for the IGDA Board of Directors where we have the best candidate from Finland – Christopher Hamilton!

Chris has had an incredible impact on the Finnish chapter of IGDA for years with his huge passion for games and community development. We need a representative such as him to be elected to the IGDA Board of Directors in order to have the voice of Finnish gaming industry heard globally.


Turku Hub - report from January gathering with Veikkaus

IGDA Finland Turku Hub Gathering with Veikkaus - January 2018



We start the year with a super interesting talk from producer Ilkka at Veikkaus Game Studio.

As you may know, Veikkaus is owned by the state and the company has a monopoly on gambling. Profits go to culture and healthcare, and this is part if how gambling is regulated and how the bad sides of addiction are being kept under control. The games are meant to be fun and exciting but safe at the same time.

Producer Ilkka started his career with being a croupier for ten years, but then got the idea to apply for a job in the Ray Game Studio (Ray and the old Veikkaus joined in 2017). When he applied for the position he knew nothing about the studio, and when he got the job he made it his mission to make more people aware of them and how they work.

The Game Studio has about 40 employees. They make their own slot games, but now also mobile games.

What generated the most money in Veikkaus? 1/8 is from the lottery and once a week games. 1/3 comes from sports betting games, where some skill and knowledge is necessary to play. 1/2 comes from so called excitement games, that is slot machines, e-scratch cards, normal card games etc. Half of the revenue comes from the slot machines, and this is the largest part over all.

In the game studio they start by making a game for the slot machine, for one type. Then the game is exported to other machines. Online games are made with partners, other Finnish companies.

When we make our games we start to make the game for slot machine, one type, then they are exported/improted to other machines. Online games made with partners, Finnish other companies.

The studio has 12 programmers, 10 artists, 1 audio artist, so most of the audio is outsourced. There are a few people who specialize on mathematics, and there is one head of research. They make 5-18 games a year, and are probably the most agile part of the company (Veikkaus employs around 2000 people).

They are organized into smaller teams. The team decides what the game should look like. The business department might say something sometimes, but the track records says that the team knows what makes a good slot machine game.

Agile development is a buzzword. If the team members are used to working with scrums or dailys, they can use whatever tools they want. As long as it works. One person is missing: there is no crunch guy. Progress should be made all the time, so NO crunching.

The development process usually starts from a need. The business intelligence says we need to diversify the portfolio for example ”We need a game in January”. The framework for the team comes from here. Sometimes it goes the other way, but it is rare.

The usual development cycle is 6-9 months. They have pretty fast production cycles in general.

Veikkaus differs from normal companies: they already have a monetization plan, and they have users. They can focus on the end user experience. The studio does not need to think about marketing.

After every project there is one month testing, with no development. Two new people test the games to see if something is wrong. If everything is cool it goes to an approval testing.

They publish game packs, not one game at a time. All updates need to be in one pack. During that time they can’t do anything with the game, and focus on other games.

The audience had a lot of questions this time:

Q: What do you search from outsourced studios?

A: Skillwise: mobile and desktop C++, online HTML5, you need to know these.

Some kind of good track record. Can you show us that you are team players and not complete newbies?

Q: Creative side? Graphics audio?

A: It doesn’t matter where you published your games, but having done mobile is good, so you know the technology. Otherwise there are no preferences on what you have done previously.

Q: How do you deal with bugs after release?

A: Since there is money in it… Turn it off so no one can play. If it is a graphical thing we make a fix in the next package. Hot fix if it is serious, its not common, but we can do it. If it something huge that has gone wrong… The player is the most important. If it is anything that endangers the player experience or their money, that is priority.

Q: How hard is to balance entertainment and profit?

A: Good question. We have the math guys. All of our slot games have 90 % return rates. For some people small money is entertaining, some people want just big wins. We are making games for different kinds of gamers. We need to have an idea about who the game is aimed at. Its about balancing the math with game play.

Q: Have you made a game where you loose so much it becomes unpopular?

A: Don’t think so.. I don’t think its about wether you loose or win, it has most to do with how it feels to play. Sometimes the loosing feels like winning. We try to give the player some value though the game.

Q: Do you get feedback?

A: Yes. Always relevant? No. But we do listen to it, there is always some truth in the comments.. But we need to interpret them… Its comment like ”I feel dizzy”, ”I want to win more” etc.

Q: How much regulation is there to restrict development?

A: Poliisihallitus, The national police board, if they say no, we can’t publish. The game can't be too fun or exciting. What is too fun? If there is a new feature that is too new or exciting. Sometimes they give us no motivation. But we do want to make entertaining games…

Q: How much say do you have about what kind of games? What kind of mechanics?

A: The teams have a lot of say. Business intelligence might say that now is a good time for a thing (a poker game for example), the rest is up to the team. The team have a good ownership of the products.

User Research Breakfast Meet-up at Rovio

The first User Research professionals breakfast will happen at Rovio's headquarters at Keilaranta 7, Espoo, on February 9th from 08:30 to 10:00. This will be a great opportunity to meet, talk and exchange ideas! There will be food as well as cold and warm drinks. If you're working in user research we hope to see you! 

If you have any questions e-mail Elise Lemaire at elise (dot) lemaire (at) rovio (dot) com, otherwise just register through Facebook: