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Sweden has launched a new nonprofit game-company accelerator, Stugan, that will be backed by executives from some of that country’s most successful firms.
Mobile titles have become an economic boon to countries — like neighboring Finland — that house studios making games such as Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, and Hay Day. Finland’sTekes government agency has funded lots of game startups, and that has paid off with huge tax revenues fromSupercell, publisher of Hay Day and Clash of Clans. The mobile-game businessis expected to grow from $25 billion in 2014 to $30 billion worldwide in 2015, according to market researcherNewzoo.
The Swedes want to get in on this action, and for the most part, they already have via companies like Candy Crush Saga publisher King Digital Entertainment; Electronic Arts’ DICE division, maker of the Battlefield series; Mojang, maker of Minecraft (acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion); and Avalanche Studios, maker of Just Cause and the upcoming Mad Max being published by Warner Bros.“The Swedish games industry has catapulted into the forefront of game development over the last decade with some of the world’s most popular games including Minecraft, Candy Crush Saga, Just Cause and others,” said long-time games industry veteran Tommy Palm, in a statement. “Stugan has been created to share the deep rooted insights behind these hit games, while inspiring and encouraging students and young designers from around the world so their ideas and talents can ultimately translate into blockbuster hits as well.”
These studios have already turned Sweden into a hotbed for interactive entertainment. Now, executives at King, Mojang Rovio (Helsinki-based, with a lot of Swedes working for it), and Avalanche Studios are starting a global games accelerator focused on raising the profile of creative talent in Sweden.
Tommy Palm, a designer that led King’s mobile design team working on Candy Crush Saga, Oskar Burman, a general manager of Rovio, andChristoferSundberg of Avalanche Studios, are among the executives joining the effort by backing the initiative. PerStrömbäck, head of the Swedish Games Association, is also participating. Others will run it.The word “Stugan” means “the cabin” in Swedish and it is also a throwback to the name of the first Swedish commercial computer game made in 1978.“Revenues in Sweden’s games industry grew 76 percent last year with employment growing nearly 30 percent,” said Per Strömbäck, in a statement. “Talent is a big part of the secret to the success of Swedish games. Stugan is a brilliant concept, because it invests in talent, giving new developers new opportunities and adding to the good karma of generosity within the Swedish games community.”

Under the program, 20 aspiring game developers will spend eight weeks with all expenses paid in a traditional “Stugan” in the Swedish countryside, where they will be supported and mentored while building their games during the summer 2015. Top Swedish game leaders will visit the cabin and hold lectures and workshops around their respective areas of focus with an aim to inspire excellence. All participants will keep the rights to the games they work on.

Individuals or small teams can start applying in January 2015. At the end of the project, the developers will present their work to potential publishers, sponsors and investors at an event in Stockholm.

The Swedish game group says that game developer’s turnover, or revenues, were $1 billion in 2013, up 76 percent. Employment was up 29 percent to 2,534 employees. The number of women in the industry grew by 38 percent, with the percentage of women now pegged at 27 percent. Over half the companies in the industry were started after 2010.

Turnover for game developers in the industry increased 600 percent from 2013 to 2013. The global games market grew 14 percent in the same period according to Price Waterhouse Coopers Global Media Outlook. The biggest hit has been Candy Crush Saga.


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