Swedish Games Industry Show Explosive Growth in Profits

The latest numbers show that Sweden’s games industry is still growing at an incredible rate.

The juggernaut that is the Swedish games industry just seems to keep growing. New numbers, released byt the trade organization for the Swedish Game Developers, Dataspelsbrachen, show an almost explosive growth in profit, as well as positive developments on all major areas – turnover, no. of employees, no. of companies, and turnover per employee.

(graph: Dataspelsbranchen)

(graph: Dataspelsbranchen)

The profit of the Swedish games industry has been growing almost exponentially the last few years. From a total deficit for the business of €21 million in 2008, to a profit of just €1,7 million in 2010 to a staggering €285 million in 2013. So one might excuse Detaspelsbranchen’s spokesperson, Per Strömbeck, for asking “Can anything halt the Swedish game developers? Is there a growth cap?,” in the introduction to this year’s report.

The rest of the key metrics of the Swedish games industry in 2013 are:

  • Number of Companies: 170 (+17%)
  • Turnover: €752M (+76%)
  • Turnover  per Employee: €297K (+37%)
  • Number of Employees: 2534 (+29%) 

 

(graph: Dataspelsbranchen)

(graph: Dataspelsbranchen)

Two specific developers stand out in this years report -both with a turnover of more than €200 million each. Casual Game powerhouse King Digital and Microsoft’s newest acquisition, Minecraft-makers Mojang. From there, there’s a bit of a drop down to the next name on the list, EA-owned DICE, who reported a turnover of €74 million. However, as part of the revenue generated by foreign-owned companies like DICE and Massive are accounted for with their foreign parent companies, it’s difficult to find the precise value of the revenue generated by these kinds of developers.

With that said, the increasing financial performance of developers like King and Mojang seems to underline that the current growth happens outside of the classic AAA-market. Something that Strömbeck himself also notes in the report.

The new target groups consist of senior citizens, American housewives, middle aged commuters and many others. The potential audience number billions and the appetite for games is far from filled

(graph: Dataspelsbranchen)

(graph: Dataspelsbranchen)

 

Measured in the number of employees, however, it’s still the AAA-developers that are in front. The Swedish developer with most people employed is DICE with 518 persons, followed by Malmö’s Ubisoft-owned Massive with 241 people, and only then does King Digital pop up as number three with 237 people employed.

The most recent numbers also show that the Swedish games industry is gradually moving, albeit slowly, towards a more even gender distribution in the business. Women now make up 16 % of the total number of employees – one percent more than last year.

 

chart4

(graph: Dataspelsbranchen)

Small companies with less than 5 employees still make up more than half of the Swedish industry, and almost half of the developers have a yearly turnover of less than €100K. But interestingly, the last couple of years have seen a decline in new companies established. The biggest year regarding establishment of new developers was 2011, and after that the number has dwindled dramatically.

This could suggest that the Swedish games industry is currently in a phase more defined by consolidations and growth within the already established companies, rather than though establishment of new studios.

 

Despite the massive growth, the report from Dataspelbranchen also identifies a number of threats that could stifle continued growth in the years to come. Most serious among these threats are the access to investment capital and the ability to continue to recruit enough talented people.

Also listed as a threat is the tax breaks and advantageous loans offered to competing game developers in other countries, such as Finland’s TEKES program. So to combat these threats, Dataspelsbranchen calls out for political support, to support the business.

The companies are successful but with political intent the achievements can be bigger and longer lasting.

 

Despite the latest growth, the Swedish games industry has just been edged out as the biggest industry of the Nordics by Finland, who posted a collective turnover for the industry of €800M for 2013, according to the latest numbers from Neogames. Denmark and Norway are quite a bit behind, with a Danish yearly turnover of just above €100M, while the latest 2012-numbers from Norway show a turnover of only approximately €35M.

The full report from Dataspelsbranchen can be found here.

Jesper K. Kristiansen

Multi-passionate game developer and journalist. Has been writing about the Danish games industry for more than ten years, and creating audio design for both Danish and International games for almost as long.

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