Gaming

Nordic Game Conference: “We’re creating a window for the Nordic devs to show themselves to the world”


This month we’re looking in-depth at Sweden’s Skåne region, which includes Malmö. You can read our in-depth coverage of the area here.

The region already well-known to many in the industry across Europe (and beyond) in large part thanks to the annual Nordic Game Conference. The event has been running for around 16 years. It’s one of the biggest game industry conferences in Europe, attracting over 2,000 visitors every year, and widely regarded as one of the friendliest and most popular too.

Paradox’s Lars Håhus explains the upside for local studios: “It’s truly a time where Malmö can show it’s best side and having a studio in the region enables us to contribute to the program closer with the Nordic Game team each year.

“If we have something interesting to share, we love having ‘Paradoxians’ on stage to talk about our latest insights. Paradox being a publisher, we aren’t actively looking for investors but our bizdevs attend to find talent and business opportunities each year. Our presence in the region means that relationships established at the conference are easier to maintain throughout the year.”   

Tarsier’s Andreas Johnsson agrees:  “It’s a major happening every year for us and a lot of the staff participate. As well as all the great talks, the ability for companies to meet us in our neighbourhood & office brings us all a lot closer together. Having the Nordic Game Conference on our doorstep is really a luxury that we must never take for granted, and it’s amazing to see that it has grown so much over the years.”

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And other organisations rally around during the event to expand it across the city, Eliana Oikawa of Game Habitat tells us: “During NGC we take visitors on a bus tour of a bunch of studios like King, Massive, Tarsier, Avalanche, our DevHub as well as to game educations like The Game Assembly, to show a glimpse of all the diversity of talent and success that one can find here.”

Right: Jacob Riis,
Nordic Game Conference

We also reach out to Jacob Riis, the organiser of Nordic game Conference to find out more.

How did the conference get started, why Malmo?

The Nordic Game conference originated as a part of the Nordic Game Program, an initiative to create a Nordic games industry with game developers from all over the Nordic countries, funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Erik Robertson, current CEO of Nordic Game, was appointed to lead the program, and as part of this work he decided to use his hometown of Malmö as the place for an annual gettogether, with the aim of giving the Nordic developer community a place to meet, discuss, and network. The city was perfect for this – not being a capitol, but yet very close to a major airport (Copenhagen) it kind of ticked the right boxes as a “neutral” meeting ground for Nordics. When the NGP ended, we took the opportunity to continue running the conference. At that point, in 2012, the conference was already a well-known event in the global calendar, and it was quite logical to continue being in Malmö.

Why should developers locate their businesses here today?

Most of the reasons I’ve already described above, and maybe adding that today there is a great feeling of community among studios in Malmö, with established studios willing to share knowledge and experience with startups, making it quite easy to quickly “feel at home”. Also, Malmö is a fairly small town, so you never feel alone or lost. Being from Copenhagen, we often describe Malmö as an “urban village” with friendly people and a vibe of closeness.

Aside from the pandemic, how has the conference changed and grown over the years?

We started with Nordic Game being a meeting place for the Nordic studios, and as such we had 150 people attending for the first edition in 2004-5. Since then we have worked hard and very focused to keeping the vibe of an annual and cozy gettogether while evolving the show into a global event for anyone working with games. As such I sometimes describe what we do as creating a window – for the Nordic devs to show themselves to the world, and for the global industry to get a unique access to the entire, Nordic industry. So, before the virus we were beyond the magic 2000 attendee mark and were looking to expand even further. Post-virus we did our first ever online Nordic Game in May and had 1300 people participating, and right now we’re working on NG20+ – our first take on a hybrid between online and physical elements.

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