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Scandimania: Adventures in Finnish games, part one

Friday, 3 February 2012 08:44 GMT By Patrick Garratt

VG247 tours Finland’s games companies to find discs dead, investment capital flowing like champagne and mobile development everywhere. Patrick Garratt reports.

The Finnish games industry

Finland is home to more than 70 games developers and has a government which injects more cash into the industry than any other in Europe. It’s home to Angry Birds, Alan Wake, and probably the most active games start-up scene in the world. VG247 travelled to Helsinki and Tampere last December to find an industry at the cutting edge of gaming’s inexorable shift from disc to digital.

“Mobile phones are the new gold.”

Rovio’s North American general manager, Andrew Stalbow, is cod-advising us on investment through a cocktail grin. We all agree; earth’s social structure could collapse tomorrow and people would still want mobiles. These companies just have so much money, says Stalbow.

And he would know. Rovio’s Angry Birds is mobile gaming’s premiere success story. We’re at dinner in a concept restaurant in Finnish capital Helsinki, eating a meal so ludicrous it’s sublime. Between Finland’s most unhinged food team asking us to “open our hearts” to a repas designed to emulate a walk through the country’s beech woods, Stalbow and eccentric Rovio CMO Peter “Mighty Eagle” Vesterbacka are schooling us on gaming’s new frontier, a place of cookbooks and plushies, a world where units are not clocked in hundreds of thousands, but hundreds of millions. A world where you can create an international media event by wearing the right sort of dress.

We arrived to start our tour of the Finnish games industry the previous evening to find Helsinki black, freezing and bizarrely dead. December 6 is Finland’s independence day, a celebration of the country’s official split from Russia in 1917, and a night residents apparently sit at home in a grump over a grand party held at the presidential palace for Finland’s great and good. Vesterbacka’s wife, Teija, stole the show by wearing an Angry Birds dress, pictures of which flooded the internet overnight. Peter loved it; Finnish president Tarja Halonen less so.

“She didn’t say anything,” Vesterbacka tells me of Halonen’s reaction over a green cocktail representing beech leaves. “Actually, that was one comment I made, that she should smile a bit more. That made the news. She’s going to be out in January anyway.” He sniffs, noting upcoming elections.

Stalbow stops the the waiters giving him cocktails. He has work to do, he says. Vesterbacka, dressed in his trademark red bird hoodie, tells us he’s going after “Disney and TV” in 2012, that “next year will be much bigger” for Rovio. Someone asks jokingly if there’s anyone left in the world that hasn’t played Angry birds.

“Of course,” he snips, his smile failing to reach his eyes. “We were in Berlin recently, and we spoke to a taxi driver from Palestine. He hadn’t heard of Angry Birds. There’s a lot more we can do.”

Earlier that day, Eeva Haaramo, of national PR agency Finnfacts, explains to our group of British and American games journalists that people stay in on the country’s holiday because they’re “anti-party, not anti-independence”. We pass a “music house” on the drive to our first appointment which was “very controversial” among voters due to its expense, as was Helsinki’s opera house, thanks to its marble facade. Spending money, it seems, is not something to be happy about.

While the subject of public funds is a global unifier at the moment, Finland’s similarities to countries like Britain and America end quickly. Finland is backwards to us, a quirky land of opposites. We’re far north, even in Finland’s south, so the days are short; the sun rises at about 8.30am and sets at 3.30pm. We see an outdoor tropical garden; whereas summer is the main season in warmer climes and dictates a need of places to cool down, Finland’s weather means there are permanent fixtures in which you can heat up. Eeva describes last year’s winter, which came with record snow levels and crippled most of Europe over Christmas, as “good”.

She’s clearly disappointed there’s no snow. “It comes later and later every year,” she sighs.

As we arrive at the office of Finnish funding agency Tekes, talk switches to the previous evening. While I was eating in an empty restaurant with IGN’s Keza MacDonald and Pocket Gamer’s Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman on a night Helsinki should have been packed with people, the Register’s Caleb Cox and Wired UK’s Duncan Geere found one of the north’s smartest cities has a seedier side.

“Bar Chaplin,” says Cox. “There was an amputee wearing 3D glasses. He had a hook for a hand.”

Money, money, money

Tekes is the Finnish agency responsible for distributing government funds to the country’s tech industries, one of which is the games trade. It receives €550 million each year, of which €2-7 million is pushed into games firms, but the portion allocated to games is remaining static while the general spend declines under austerity measures. Relatively, government investment in Finnish games companies is rising. The Tekes investment in games is the largest of its kind in Europe.

The Finnish games industry is a collapsing nebula, a nursery, a section of European space clustered with embryonic stars. Finland has a population of 5.4 million people and over 70 games companies, largely built of start-ups birthed by the Finnish government’s benevolent gas cloud. Nearly 50 percent of Finnish games firms are less than two years old, and two-thirds of them have less than 10 employees. Revenue is slight; in 2008, only 42% of Finnish games companies beat €200,000 in annual turnover, although this rose to 54% by 2010, by which point 22% had made it over €1 million per year. It’s early days, but Tekes and friends hope that Finland’s stellar creche will one day form the central hub of a galaxy.

It’s unlikely there’s a national games trade more relevant to the fast-changing face of publishing on earth. This is not a industry making triple-A games, but rather seeking growth off the back of the rise of digital distribution and mobile. Whether or not digital is the way forward over brick and mortar retail isn’t a discussion in Finland. It happened: digital won.

It’s unlikely there’s a national games trade more relevant to the fast-changing face of publishing on earth. This is not a industry making triple-A games, but rather seeking growth off the back of the rise of digital distribution and mobile. Rovio’s success with Angry Birds is the prime example. KooPee Hiltunen, director of research monitor Neogames, tells us he “doubts” Finland will ever produce another disc-based big hitter, and cites Nokia’s recent misadventures as providing the talent needed for Finland’s swathe of tiny start-ups. Even Finland’s larger games companies have now dropped away from discs (assuming they ever needed them in the first place), the best known being Housemarque (Dead Nation), Frozenbyte (Trine) and Recoil (Rochard), none of which are involved with physical media at all. Remedy may yet produce a full Alan Wake sequel for disc, but caused a great furore recently by announcing Alan Wake’s American Nightmare as one of the first traditionally triple-A products to make the full switch to digital. Whether or not digital is the way forward over brick and mortar retail isn’t a discussion in Finland. It happened: digital won.

It’s not just the opportunities of the mobile and digital businesses changing the Finnish games industry; the traditional publishing model simply isn’t working in this part of the world any more.

“We are cold, we are distant, and we are expensive. Those are not very good starting points to get a publisher,” says Hiltunen.

We go on to hear from Samuli Syvähuoko, the founder of Recoil and one of the original founders of Remedy. He details a tale of woe about Recoil being created in 2007 as Finland’s next great triple-A developer, taking €4.5 million in investment and putting together a demo for Earth No More, a high-end, post-apocalyptic FPS. While the team was pitching, the world’s finances went pop.

“We’d already spent all of our money,” says Syvähuoko. “Nobody was looking for a new IP. Nobody was taking any risks.”

He says Finns were “still delusional” about the games publishing model in 2007. “Tough shit. But it was fun while it lasted. I have spent so much investor money,” he says.

Recoil went bust and half the company moved on, leaving 20 Finns and one “crazy” Frenchman to try to get something together before everyone starved. Recounting logic we’re to hear many times in the coming days, Syvähuoko ditched the idea of ever getting a publishing deal, put together a quick, cheap game and aimed at the digital space.

Rochard, a cartoon physics platformer, released in September for PC and PSN. It was supposed to come out earlier, but PSN exploded in April and everything got pushed back, forcing Rochard into the heavy Christmas season. Syvähuoko admits sales haven’t been high, saying Recoil was “extremely unlucky with the timing,” but he has more than enough content for “several sequels”. He’s looking at iOS and Android now. Again, this is a theme for the trip.

Before we leave the Tekes building, we see Trine 2. Developer Frozenbyte is a model for how to well handle core digital distribution. The Trine 2 team is only 25 people strong, but the product is perfect for PS3 and Xbox 360, and is a sweet-spot game for Steam. It’s simple, very attractive and is relatively cheap to make. DLC is planned for next year. Trine has succeeded by Frozenbyte staying nimble as the publishing world turns in on itself.

Outside it’s freezing, but the skies are snowless. We’re taken into central Helsinki. Pre-schoolers are ice-skating with padded parents on an open-air rink while older children speed along independently with stabilizing frames. Eeva buys us lunch at Finland’s national gallery. The cafe’s Finnish Plate boasts a selection of various types of reindeer meat.

“It’s got all 12 of them,” says Caleb.

Magic and lightbulbs

If two factors mark out the new Finnish games industry, they’re the arrival of iOS and a flood of start-up investment. Our next stop, Grey Area, is a perfect example of what’s currently happening in Finland. It’s small, it’s in an office full of bean bags in which you have to leave you shoes at the door, and it’s staffed by well-groomed young people with big smiles. Grey Area has published one game, Shadow Cities for iOS, and took €1.9 million VC from Index Ventures, London Venture Partners – of which ex-Sony figurehead Phil Harrison is one of four bosses – and Initial Capital in February 2011 to make it. The second round of money takes total investment to €2.5 million.

Grey Area, creator of iOS MMO Shadow Cities.

CEO Ville Vesterinen talks us through the company and its concept while a lady plays the game on a screen behind him on an iPad. Vesterinen has flicked hair, tortoise-shell glasses and a Marlboro voice. Grey Area was set up in 2009 by three ex-Ericsson staffers. Vesterinen describes iPhone as “magical,” a device which allowed them to action their location-based ideas. Shadow Cities released in Finland in 2010 and did well on the Finnish App Store. It launched in the US in mid-2011. The company’s now grown to 16 staff and a second game, the identity of which Vesterinen keeps to himself, will hit around April 2012.

The “grey area” is the place between reality and game. Shadow Cities is an iOS MMO in which you play in real cities according to physical location. You join one of two global teams, conquer areas, fight opponents and level up. It’s a magic-based affair, played on a map in real-time. Money, primarily, comes from selling mana for spells, although the app is free.

Vesterinen talks about emergent gameplay in which New York residents created pillar markers around Ground Zero during a 9/11 memorial, and the problems of grouping people together in location-based games (you can jump to any area of the world where you have a friend, skirting the need for physical movement). He describes “battle groups,” and talks mainly about New York and California in the US; unsurprising, given they’re typically populous regions.

It’s interesting. iOS has allowed small Finnish teams to take on investment and emerge as games firms without ever needing to look at consoles and PC. Vesterinen, however, won’t tell us how many people are playing Shadow Cities. The obvious question is whether or not it’s profitable.

“The monetization has worked really well for us,” he says. “If you look at the mobile space in general, one of the biggest challenges is discoverability. As a company, you want to have a portfolio of games, whatever you do. Having screen real estate this big,” he says, picking up his iPhone, “and having half a million applications is challenging, whether you’re Grey Area or EA. But yeah, it’s worked out really well for us.”

They’re now looking at Android, although spend on apps is apparently only 20% that seen on iOS.

With organic, visibility and fragmentation buzzwording in our ever-colder ears, we’re led back into our bus and off to Supercell, the biggest start-up we’ll see on the trip. When we arrive we’re greeted with champagne, then ushered into an immaculate boardroom beyond a giant logo dripping with Christmas lights.

Supercell, developer of browser action-RPG
Gunshine. The start-up’s grown from six to
46 employees in less than 18 months.

CEO Ilkka Paananen is an intense man in an ironed shirt. He kicks up PowerPoint and his staff, Supercell t-shirts and all, crowd at the door with their iPads to watch. Within a few minutes he’s on his feet, unflappable, waving a glass of bubbly and predicting the death of consoles.

“We very much believe that the consumption of games and entertainment is general is shifting to casual, connected platforms, away from games-specific targetted devices like consoles,” he says. He predicts tablets will become the de facto form of accessing all entertainment in “a few years”.

Supercell’s “dream” is to bridge the world of WoW and Zynga. Facebook and the general browser is the target for the developer’s first release, action-RPG Gunshine. It is, we’re assured one of the most expensive Flash productions ever completed. It’s free-to-play with micro-transactions and has an audience of 300,000 monthly active users. It launched on Facebook in November 2011 and was expanded with zombies in late December.

We go on to see upcoming Supercell games Pets vs Orcs and Battle Buddies, both for iOS and Android, phones and tablets. The former, a cute management sim, was retro-developed from a focus-tested concept. Battle Buddies is turn-based combat game using touch. It’s like top-down Worms, I guess. They’re both out in 2012.

Supercell is a revelation. I’ve visited many games developers, and this is not a small operation. It’s grown from six to 46 employees in less than 18 months, fuelled by €15 million in seed funding from Initial Capital, Lifeline Ventures (of which Paananen is a partner), Accel Partners, London Venture Partners and others. The lightbulb factor here is that Supercell, as with Grey Area, has absolutely nothing at all to do with consoles and PC executables. This is about connecting social networks to instantly accessible content on browsers, mobile and tablets. This company is not arguing the viability of non-traditional platforms: it’s betting the farm on it. For me, this is a first. Within these walls the entire notion of “triple-A,” walled tech coupled with a publisher model, is dead. Paananen has the glass of champagne to prove it.

Before we leave, boundlessly energetic and extraordinarily white-haired marketing manager Marika Appel has us decorate cookies to hang on Supercell’s Christmas tree. I write “boo” in white icing. Keza makes a carefully detailed IGN logo. The Americans, EGM’s Brady Fiechter and Eli Hodapp from Touch Arcade, look extremely fucked, both sighing heavily beneath sunken eyes. Eeva runs away to a party leaving us with some free time at the hotel before dinner with the husband of the owner of the most famous dress in Finland.

The real McCoy

The Helsinki World Trade Centre is lifted straight from the pages of a Tom Wolfe novel, all stained panelling and embossed leather, unused decanters and chandeliers. Morose suits squelch from the early morning rain under mechanical clocks which proudly display Tokyo and London time. Petteri Koponen, a partner of venture capitalist Lifeline Ventures, appears to be perpetually amused by his surroundings.

“Welcome to the 80s,” he giggles, injecting us with choke-strong coffee from dainty china cups.

Venture capital, Helsinki-style.

Lifeline, as with all else in the new Finnish games industry, is small and young. It has made six investments in games so far, and only 17 in total. Thanks to its age, it has a nonexistent failure rate. A typical investment would be in the region of €100-150,000, with a further €300,000 coming from Tekes, the government agency. Koponen describes Lifeline’s relationship to Tekes as “scarily close”.

These people are looking for companies that can lead categories and could potentially be worth €100 million. Supercell is a main investment. Lifeline “always communicates to the founders that we’re OK to lose our investment. It’s not very well protected. We don’t focus on protecting the downside. When a company is not getting traction or something’s really wrong and it can’t be protected, we usually just say to the entrepreneurs, ‘Just stop whatever you’re doing now and think about how much cash you have left.’”

Lifeline takes companies from zero, gives them money, combines investment with backing from the Finnish government and doesn’t appear to mind if nothing works. Lifeline’s stake in return for its help is normally less than 20%. Eli and I, especially, are struggling to grasp the realities of starting up in Finland; €450,000 for an idea that can go wrong with no consequence? Seriously?

Talk swings to the ever-present topic of ditching publishers in the move to mobile and social. “Publishers haven’t really found a space yet,” says Jussi Laakonen, founder of Facebook games marketing system Applifier and a “failed” triple-A developer from Bugbear.

“I think it’s coming, because the cost of investment’s going up and the market’s getting more specialised, but what does a publisher really add? Chillingo doesn’t give you funding; it just gives you distribution, and they don’t give you any upfront guarantee, just a spot in their roster. Why would I sign up with that?”

He adds: “We’ve seen a huge explosion in gaming and valuations. If you were to look 5-7 years back, no one in their right mind would invest in games, because the publisher reaped all the economics. Social and mobile really opened up the field for VC investing and the pay-out being there.”

We see presentations about uplause – a gamification idea for big screens at events – and a start-up developer called Grand Cru. The firm’s first game is a “”synchronous mmo” with “rich interaction,” a free-to-play effort with a virtual economy for phones, tablets and browsers. It’s inspired by LittleBigPlanet and Minecraft, with the player taking charge of a superhero. We see iPad gameplay, with the player digging a hole to uncover presents.

It’s clearly early, but CEO Markus Pasula is incredibly bullish. He’s passionate about free-to-play as the dominant model going forward, saying it will “completely transform gaming,” and that “it’s not a phenomenon that’s going away. There’s a lot of old guard that need to adapt.”

When I ask how many users Grand Cru needs to attract to cover company costs, Pasula says he hasn’t thought about it. When I ask him what sort of audience he’s aiming for, he says, “Tens of millions of users.” I nearly fall off my chair.

As Koponen shuts his PowerPoint down, I’m caught by the wallpaper on his MacBook. It’s the same as the background on the laptop of Ilkka Paananen, the head of Supercell. I have it on my own PC at home. It’s an HD shot of Andromeda, the closest major galaxy to our own Milky Way.

Hundreds of billions of stars burning bright; so near; so far.

Get part two here.

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37 Comments

  1. Patrick Garratt

    Dunno why comments were closed on this. They are now not.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Patrick Garratt

    To be honest, some feedback on this would be good. Is this the sort of thing you want to see on VG247? It takes a lot of work to do something like this, obviously.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. absolutezero

    The Rovio guys make me shiver. Cold dead eyes and ideas for above their one note rip-off Zynga-style clone. Depressing.

    I see alot of similarities with whats happening the UK development scene, the rise of billion selling apps just makes it too easy and alot less risky to produce a crappy app and make some money. There are undoubtedly talented people working in the mobile sector, so why are they still working in the mobile sector, why is’nt the larger developers and publishers snapping these people up to work on full large scale titles?

    Great article, very interesting read and coloured well. More.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Patrick Garratt

    *thumbs*

    Glad you liked it.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. ItsFade

    Great article, very interesting read.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. G1GAHURTZ

    Interesting…

    Yeah, do one with Respawn or something. I’d be interesting in reading about how a dev re-starts itself from scratch after making the number 1 selling game…

    I’d also be interested in reading about developers during quiet time, when the whole interview is more relaxed and open, and not just coming across like a big PR exercise for their upcoming game.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Patrick Garratt

    Cool. I really enjoy doing this type of thing, so it’s good to know you like it.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Patrick Garratt

    @6 – Noted. I’d love to do something on Respawn. Hopefully they’ll open up a bit soon.

    And yeah, I’m sure that’s something I can do, especially with indies. I’ll start thinking about that, actually.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Da Man

    #3 Because working on large scale titles might be less interesting and challenging to them than embedded platforms, unless you ‘re talking strictly game design. In the same way corporate businesses are compared to start-ups . Take Ideaworks, who’s been around since early Symbian, amazing guys. Not to mention there’s lots of dull, mundane work when making bigger things. Unfortunately, there exist as well the likes of Zynga and the such.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. lgrohn

    “The Tekes investment in games is the largest of its kind in Europe.”

    Hmm. Tekes investments ior Rovio:

    2005 only 93000 euros

    2006 only 108000 euros

    2007 only 175000 euros.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. NinjaMidget

    Great read! I’d personally love to see more as I’m interested in setting up an indie dev company back in N.I when I’m done with my MA over here!

    #11 3 years ago
  12. DSB

    @3 I think that’s a misunderstanding based on perhaps not being familiar with Scandinavian culture.

    The vast majority of Finnish people look and act like quiet murderers. And quite a few are!

    @6 Excellent choice. That would be the story of the year. You should really put your weight behind getting Respawn Pat.

    Even if they don’t want to talk about the game itself, you can still talk to them about building the studio.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Telepathic.Geometry

    I’m really bad for forgetting to pop into these articles and express my interest, but rest assured that forumites like myself are reading in the shadows and enjoying the bevy of entertaining and informative articles and opinion pieces on VG24/7. Ye’re doing a fine job, just too damned busy recently to say. Keep it up. :)

    #13 3 years ago
  14. PEYJ

    I must admidt I didn’t read it but I do believe such articles are both relevant for site and necessary in educating and/or challenging the readers.

    On a sidenote: Finland is not a part a Scandinavia as I believe the headline indicates. It is nordic country like Iceland and the Faroe Isles (part of Denmark, I know but I consider it to be a kind of independent nation), and not a Scandinavian one like Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. OlderGamer

    I would enjoy reading a lot more like this Pat. I like the stories underneath the headlines. People drive this industry but about all we ever get to read is release dates, fanboy snipets and hype or stuff that is aimed at creating sales.

    I want more like this. You have really up’d your game in the past few months. Well done. Really.

    I think the respawn bit would be interesting too.

    But I would also enjoy looking into where the industry sees itself in the next gen. Hardware expectations, costs. The changing dynamic of game distribution. DRM vs gamers rights(do we even have any?) Why is Gamestop getting into digital PC sales, do they expect a shift away from consoles? Is cloud honestly sustainable? What happens to all of the digital content I have purchased durring this gen when next gen gets here? I have hundreds of Rockband songs, for example, will I lose them all when MS moves forward, how about my Wii VC and PSN purchases?

    Lots of stuff really. I think the scope of things you could take on is vast. And I’d look forward to reading all of it.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. DSB

    @14 The difference between Nordic and Scandinavian is imaginary.

    The term Scandinavia is a construct, that isn’t based on much more than the wave of European nationalism in the late 1800′s.

    Today Finland is recognized as an equal by Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark.

    The distinction between Finland and the rest of the nordic countries in 2011 is largely based on geography and culture, but mostly their political decisions. Finland was part of Sweden for quite a few centuries, but they’ve paid a high price for being part of the axis powers during WW2.

    The notion that they aren’t one of us is mostly down to views like that of my Norwegian grandmother, because they helped the nazis.

    Considering that both Icelandics and the Faroese are Norwegian colonists, with a far more pristine nordic language and history than any of the “Scandinavian” countries speaks for their inclusion in the term, in my opinion.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Karooo

    Lovely article, Pat! Really appreciate the effort you put into this. :)

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Execta

    I had to register just so I could comment on DSB’s post. And oh, I’m from Finland. (yay)

    @16: “– Finland was part of Sweden for quite a few centuries, but they’ve paid a high price for being part of the axis powers during WW2. –”

    Correct. But we really had no choice. We have considered Russia as our enemy from as far ago as the start of 20th century. After we were part of Sweden, Finland belonged to Russia. Yabati-yabati-yab.. then the Soviet Union framed us for firing a cannon at their border (they did it theirselves) so they had a “reason” to attack Finland. Our ancestors fought for our independence and Finland just lost some ground. It was a hell of a fight if you think about the differences of both armies’ scale. The odds stood that way like 1:1000 but we defended our country and kept our independence. Obviously we were pissed too, who wouldn’t?

    Then during the WW2, two opposing sides had formed. Which side do you think we wanna join? Neither. The Allies led by Stalin of Soviet Union (in east and middle Europe), same bastards who invaded our country just a couple of years ago. Or the Axis lead by nazi-Germany and Hitler. We had to choose the less worse option. Even though we were technically a part of the Axis, we just fought our own war against the Russia and we invaded their country. We just had some German military equipment as a backup with some German soldiers. After the war, we actually fought the German off our land. I’d say we were on neither side during the WW2, on Axis just technically.

    You can tell your grandmother that. :)

    #18 3 years ago
  19. PEYJ

    @DSB

    I’m not sure who it is you mean that generally accepts Finland as Scandinavian. Geographical terms are not based on what we accept today, it is something that was decided back in the day (I believe the time between the two worldwars was latest large contribution to the change of national borders but I don’t think that relates to Scandinavia, not being a country) . Regardless of what colonist did years ago, Scandinavia is still Denmark, Norway and Sweden (and largely recognized to be that). I saw a part of news program once. It was about Estonia and they considered them selves to be Scandinavian. Just because they have that approach and perhaps look like us that does not make that un-Baltic. So I disagree with you in whether Finland is Scandinavian or not, however I do understand that there has been – and probably will be – several discussions about whether a certain country belongs to a certain region or not.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Anders

    Great article, would love more stuff like this.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. DSB

    @19 You’re confusing the term Scandinavia (proper) with the Scandinavian Peninsula.

    Which was my point. Scandinavia isn’t an official region, it’s a percieved one, which means that while it’s percieved as being Denmark, Norway and Sweden, it doesn’t exclude Finland from being included.

    You may base your perception on the peninsula itself, others may base it on ethnology, others yet may base it on cultural parity. I think Denmark, Sweden and Norway each have considerable cultural differences – The basis for our close relationship lies in our common values, which is where I see little reason not to include Finland.

    They are a brother nation in the Nordic Council, which I feel is a much better way of defining what being scandinavian is or isn’t. If they didn’t have a considerable commonality with us, they shouldn’t be a member.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Prof.Dr.Moertel

    This is amazing and very interesting. Good read, looking forward to part two.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. PEYJ

    About the peninsula confusion I guess you are right the confusion, especially since your first paragraph in your latest post doesn’t remove that confusion.

    We disagree on what is to be considered Scandinavian however. To me peoples and language means the most when connecting people. And Finnish is remarkably different to the other three languages and to my knowledge the Finns are a different peoples than the (real, …) Scandinavian countries.

    #23 3 years ago
  24. DSB

    @23 Their society is built on the very same principles, and they share a land border with two of the three percieved Scandinavian countries.

    Denmark only became connected by land to Sweden in 2000. There is no land connection to Norway, making Sweden the only country to have a land connected border to all three. In Denmarks case consisting only of a bridge.

    The fact that their DNA has less german in it, and that one of their two official languages has a different origin isn’t a very good reason to exclude them.

    There are lots of Swedes, Norwegians and Danes who don’t understand eachother, and who don’t share the same blood. Often it’s a far safer bet for us to just use English. The Norwegian language is quite diverse, and there are even Norwegians who don’t understand eachother.

    It doesn’t make those people lesser citizens, so making that distinction of language and race for Finland doesn’t make sense to me.

    Like I said before, I’m pretty sure most of the percieved Scandinavians would agree that we also have many differences amongst ourselves, but what binds us together are the similarities, which are indeed also shared by the Finns.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. Da Man

    How do you say ‘Fa-a-ast interne-e-et’ in some scandinavian?

    #25 3 years ago
  26. absolutezero

    Dear Finland please explain this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=y142zKobfqg

    :–DDDDD

    #26 3 years ago
  27. Execta

    @ 26: A random video made by some Finnish punk ass kids where they have recorded those voices with those “talking head” thingys you can find online (you just enter some words and a computerized voice will pronounce them (in bad Finnish)). That video sucks. If you wanna see a cool Finnish video, watch this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ueu8CL4sEZE

    Always cracks me to pieces. Too bad it can’t be translated but this some guy is browsing an advertising catalog of this shop called “Tarjoustalo” (tarjous = an offer / sale, talo = a house). For some reason, he laughs at some really normal ads but I can’t help it but just laugh with him. His voice is hilarious too.

    #27 3 years ago
  28. DSB

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJj6d5QSYaE

    Fatality!

    (I’m pretty sure that’s a video detailing exercises you can do to avoid committing suicide during the winter)

    #28 3 years ago
  29. PEYJ

    @ DSB

    It seems to me that you misunderstand my intentions, which I do not have any of in this connection. I have always understood(through what history and geography lessons have taught me, AND from what I understand others to perceive) Scandinavia to consist of the already mentioned countries and there by placing a known region on the map. And that is all I understand Scandinavia to be – a region on a map. I don’t believe it makes any difference to Finland whether they are a part of Scandinavia or “just” the nordic countries. I don’t follow your exlusion thoughts on this subject. Especially not when you talk about the various countries inside local differences. You can find them all over the world but that doesn’t change the map.

    Yes, Denmark was physically connected to Sweden until recently but we can look straight at them over our fence – I think we are neighbours.

    #29 3 years ago
  30. DSB

    @29 But Scandinavia isn’t defined by any line on the map. The Scandinavian Peninsula is. Scandinavia is in your head. I’m simply detailing the idiosyncrasy of excluding someone from a region that only exists in their imagination.

    Denmark is not part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, we have the most germanized language of any of the nordic countries, and we had no land borders with Sweden and Norway until 2000. Excluding us from the imaginary region of Scandinavia would make more actual sense than excluding Finland.

    I guess that’s why I was such a pain in the ass to my teachers way back when. I just don’t agree with perception being referred to as fact.

    #30 3 years ago
  31. PEYJ

    So you are looking at it from a historical genetic perspective. I think. From what I understand the “perception” of what Scandinavia is today (?) is in most peoples heads. We have (most of us, I think) been brought up with an untrue idea of Scandinavia consisting of Denmark, Norway and Sweden?

    Another thing. Most of the Norwegian language stems from Danish, that’s why we often see manuals with Danish/Norwegian and Swedish. So I do believe we have a lot in common with Norway at least, linguistically.

    You have the last the word on this one, I think we did our part in giving vg247 hits.

    #31 3 years ago
  32. DSB

    @31 Whether it’s true or untrue hasn’t been decided. Scandinavia is first and foremost a term created by Danish, Norwegian and Swedish nationalists dreaming of a union between their countries, in a time where most of Europe became very caught up in nationalism and national identity in the late 1800s.

    And of course, in our small countries, perhaps helped by a growing fear of the Germans. It was also a time where the sami people were subjected to racism, and Finland was Russian dominion, so not including them was the only option (although not neccesarily correct today).

    Since the definition is based on nothing but opinion and emotion, time and place, I think it’s quite open to be challenged, especially since there are few good reasons not to include a country like Finland.

    It doesn’t mean that we should, it just means it’s worth considering.

    #32 3 years ago
  33. mathare92

    I’m confused; who exactly organised the press trip? Or did you journos just group together and barge into every Finish studio there is :p.

    Either way, nice write-up Pat. And yes, more of these original investigative-journalism-like articles please. (I hope they’re getting the views they deserve.)

    #33 3 years ago
  34. Paavi

    Nice articles. A shame you didn’t seem to get to hang out with RedLynx. They’re a bit crazy, like Finnish crazy. Selling the studio to Ubisoft and the success of Trials has some interesting implications. Based on the trailers released, Trials Evolutions looks really good.

    DSB and PEYJ: The article itself doesn’t say Scandinaviahe headline says “Scandi-” so maybe it’s a reference to Fennoscandia that does include Finland! Okay, that’s kinda cheap.

    #34 3 years ago
  35. DSB

    @34 LOL :D

    #35 3 years ago
  36. Simula

    Great article.

    #36 3 years ago
  37. ImOnTheRadio

    @34 you’re working on KonwoliFIN, right? You seemed to be pretty good in Trials, atleast on the vid I’ve seen. I’m pretty bad myself, I have only barely finished all the original and dls extreme maps.
    Anyway, great article. Pretty surprised Max Payne wasn’t mentioned though.

    #37 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    What’s better than learning the official release date of MGS5: The Phantom pain? Hideo Kojima talking more about it, of course! Hideo Kojima has decided to answer a few fan questions about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, to help boost everyone’s hype to insane levels. He talks about the game’s story, his relief […]

  • MGS5: The Phantom Pain Day 1 and Collector’s Edition revealed

    Konami has officially revealed the release date of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain alongside the game’s Day 1 and Collector’s Edition. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will release September 1, worldwide, as previously leaked. It will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The PC Steam […]

  • EU Club Nintendo: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack back in stock

    Club Nintendo members in Europe can once again pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack. For 3000 Stars, members of the program will receive the double-CD soundtrack which features 89 tracks with liner notes from Ryo Nagamatsu and 12 sheet music excerpts. It also comes with 16 Milk Bar Musician pieces. […]

  • HTC apologises over “confusing” Half-Life VR comments

    HTC has misspoke when it talked about Half-Life coming to VR headset Vive. HTC chairwoman Cher Wang has apologised over the comments she made yesterday about the possibility of Half-Life coming to Vive, the VR headset it’s manufacturing with the help of Valve. Sources close to Valve, have indicated to the BBC that the developer […]

  • What do Heists and Daily Objectives tell us about the future of GTA Online?

    Daily Objectives could be more important to GTA Online than Heists. These theories and more, from a giddy Matt Martin. Yesterday Rockstar dropped a bombshell. Not only is it releasing Heists next week – the mythical 4-player missions for GTA Online – but it’s also going to be introducing daily challenges and more modes to […]

  • Breaking down Hardline Premium, is it worth it?

    Having been announced just a few days ago, the Premium service for Battlefield Hardline has been a topic of constant debate among the Battlefield community. Many look at Hardline as a Battlefield off-shoot that will just tide everyone over until Battlefront comes out in the fall. EA has other plans however, announcing a $50 Premium […]

  • Watch Dogs sold more than GTA 5 and FIFA 15 in Australia in 2014

    Watch Dogs outsold GTA 5, and FIFA 15, at retail in Australia last year. According to data obtained by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) from the NPD Group Australia, last year’s year retail sales charts look a bit different in Australia. The top-selling game was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, followed by Watch […]

  • Watch PC footage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from GDC 2015

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a new gameplay video available that shows a bit of action from the PC version. The video below was captured from Nvidia’s GDC conference live-stream. Developer CD Projekt RED was on hand to show off The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s graphical prowess running on a PC. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • Dying Light: Hard Mode and Ultimate Survivor Bundle out March 10

    Dying Light’s second DLC drop, the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, and the free Hard Mode, have been given a solid release date alongside a new trailer. Dying Light developer Techland has confirmed that the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, the game’s second DLC drop, will release March 10. The DLC is part of the season pass, but will […]

  • Exploration puzzler Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4

    Ether One, the first-person exploration game that puts you in the minds of other people to help change events of their past is coming to PlayStation 4 this year. Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4 this year, developer White Paper Games announced at GDC 2015. A retail version will also be available alongside the […]

  • Larian “murdered” Divinity: Dragon Commander to focus on Original Sin

    Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian talked very candidly about the business side of development and the many unfortunate events that took place for the game to come out as it did. Larian Studios founder Swen Vincke gave a post-mortem on the troubled development of Divinity: Original Sin, and how it managed to overcome all of […]

  • Firewatch probably has the most natural dialogue of any game to date

    Firewatch developer Campo Santo has revealed the first ever gameplay footage of the upcoming exploration game. Firewatch is the first game from super indie studio Campo Santo. The game is set in the Wyoming forests where the player will be exploring the environment and act as a fire lookout. The game features extensive voice-acting as […]

  • White Night launch trailer is a noir thriller trip

    White Night is here, not long after it was revealed and with a mysterious launch trailer. White Night, the black-and-white survival horror set in 1930s Boston, has revealed its launch trailer. White Night is mix of old-school horror, exploration and puzzling solving in an eerie, noir setting. The game’s main mechanic is light. any object […]

  • Free-to-play is “a significant part” of PlayStation’s digital future

    Free-to-play games on PlayStation 4 have seen enough growth that Sony is now considering the model a major part of its future digital business. Sarah Thompson, senior account executive for PlayStation’s free-to-play business said at a GDC panel that Sony has witnessed impressive growth in the free-to-play sector. “We’re really looking at this as a […]

  • Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter documentary releasing free on YouTube

    Broken Age making of documentary Double Fine Adventure will be made available to all. When Double Fine turned to crowdfunding, changing the industry forever, it promised to give an unprecedented look behind the scenes with a professional documentary of the whole development process of Broken Age. That documentary was initially restricted to Kickstarter backers, but […]

  • Gone Home console ports cancelled following Midnight City difficulties

    Gone Home won’t be made available to the console masses after all. Indie hit Gone Home was announced for console release almost exactly one year ago, and we’ve heard absolutely nothing since then. Turns out, that’s because it’s not happening: developer the Fullbright Company confirmed to Eurogamer that the ports have been cancelled. “Our publishing […]