On the 7th of November Supercell invited members of Women in Games Finland to a morning meet-up at their office. During the morning, CEO of Supercell, lkka Paananen kindly shared his experiences and visions as a entrepreneur with the participants. This article is mainly based on his talk. Women in Games Finland is a non-profit organization devoted in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the game industry.
Being a game entrepreneur in Finland is not easy, according to Neogames (2019) 60% of Finnish companies go bankrupt. Game industry is global market and competition is fierce, small studios find it harder than ever to stand out. In 2018 Finland had around 220 active game studios, decrease to the golden year 2014 was 40 companies. (Neogames 2019.)
Are you sure you want this for the right reasons?
Despite of the fear of the unknown, idea to start your own game company is tempting. Before you do anything, ask yourself why do you want this? If you are only interested in money, you might want to consider different career: making money with games is very uncertain. In this field you need to be committed to long term thinking and decisions. It is also good to acknowledge, that your company may end up running down. Even if you have an amazing product and team. In the gaming industry, you also need a bit of luck.
If you are still convinced that this is your path, Ilkka encourages you to think thoroughly what you want and solely focus on that. Even if it’s hard, say no to everything else. Concentrate on your product development and in making progress. With clear goal, you will attract the right people and the right kind of investors.
Building the company
After you’ve made the decision it’s time to build the team. First people you might think of at this point are people you already know, your friends. But think twice, this might be a bad idea. Firstly, because you need a life outside the work and secondly your friends are usually likeminded. You will need somebody to disagree and think differently from you. People with different skills and way of thinking will complement each other in the long run.
Working with people just like you is a short term decision, diversity gives you more in the long run.
Picture: Pixabay (CC0)
When you have your team together there are two main goals to achieve: create personally resonating company culture and make things happen.
Company culture and values are extremely important, difficult and forever changing. Think it through as a team but be prepared to rewrite it as the company and your knowledge grows. Respect and work according to the values.
New game companies usually don’t have big resources but don’t use it as an excuse. Find your way and move forwards all the time. To get investments, and to succeed, you need to show that you can do more than just plan. Also, don’t be afraid of asking help. Listen to the advice from others, but also remember that in the end you make the decisions, this is your chance and your company.
Trusting yourself can be difficult for new entrepreneurs. Picture: Ria Gynther
As a person who’s been thinking about starting a game company, Ilkka Paananen’s speech was both scary and inspiring at the same time. It is good to know gaming industry actualities so you can really know what kind of career choice you are picking. You have to have both passion for it and talent. Surprisingly for me, luck plays big role in success in the gaming industry. I hope that I am one of the lucky ones.
The peer talks we had over coffee and tea were also pure gold. Many of us agreed that fear of the unknown and lack of self-confidence is a major obstacle on the way for women to start their own companies.
Written by Katri Putkonen, a board member of IGDA Lahti, and a 3rd year media technology student from Lahti University of Applied Sciences and Ria Gynther, project coordinator in the GameChangers project.
Neogames. 2019. The Game industry of Finland report 2018. Neogames Finland ry. [Cited 11.11.2019]. Available: http://www.neogames.fi/fgir2018/
Originally published 27.11.2019 in LAMKbusiness blog.