31 Aug From Norway with love
Krillbite Studio is back in action after summer vacation. Did you know Among the Sleep now has a retail edition for PlayStation 4 and PC in Europe and North America? We are also working on our upcoming game Mosaic which we’re excited to show more from later! But in this blog post we would love to answer a question we get often; What is game development in Norway like?
Norway is not widely known for it’s video games, but we want to change that!
With its five million inhabitants, the entire country of Norway is like a mid-sized American city. A comedic generalisation would say that Norwegians only care about oil and fish. Which is not true, we also have a wood industry.
Oh, and video games!
The past decades a growing game development industry has taken root in Norway. We have just over 100 game companies, but most of them have less than 20 employees. Norway is big on indie games, and there are a lot of great games coming out in 2016 and 2017, more about these later.
At the moment, the biggest game developer company in Norway is Funcom, who were founded in 1993. They are known for titles such as Anarchy Online, The Secret World, Age of Conan, and The Park. Funcom also published The Longest Journey, and Dreamfall, which is now being further developed by indie developer Red Thread Games in the new game series Dreamfall Chapters.
Compared to our neighbours Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland, Norway have yet to make a huge international impact in the game scene. We have multiple companies that have done well, and one example is Playfish. From 2007 to 2013 this partly-Norwegian owned game company grew to gigantic proportions and was then bought by EA. The company developed games for Facebook, still have over two millions likes on the platform, and people are still asking them to bring back the games in 2016. Another cool company that has done extremely well is DirtyBit with the mobile games FunRun and FunRun 2. They have had some great success in the US, Saudi Arabia, and Asia.
As mentioned, Norway is big on indie game companies. Here in Hamar, we at Krillbite share offices with seven other companies. The community is called Hamar Game Collective and we will write more about the collective in the next blog post!
There are several colleges and universities that offer different undergrad and grad-courses for game development, like game production, programming, or game design. Norway is big on technology, but it has rarely been profitable to work with games in Norway. The qualified people end up in other professions, like oil and rigging development – which was where the big money was for many, many years. With the fall of oil prices and focus on clean energy a lot of the big oil companies have been forced to rethink their business. This has resulted in big shift that could have long term effects on Norwegian game development. More resources for game development will naturally improve the quality, further professionalise it, and make it grow to a profitable business. Right now most students need to form their own company to be able to work with game development, simply because there are so few jobs available. Of the few jobs available most require several years of experience, and there are few internship possibilities.
Government and public support
In Norway we are lucky to have a government that assists us with funding for video game production. There are regional and national funds who grant money regularly. The Norwegian Film Institute are not just for films, game developers can also apply for funding.
Many game development students end up creating their own company, and we are lucky enough to have big institutions, like Innovation Norway, that works as a financer of entrepreneurial companies. Innovation Norway works to build and strengthen Norwegian companies with money and resources.
Norway also have a tax refund arrangement if your project meets requirements related to research and is something new and fresh.
There are very few Norwegians investors in game development, but several of the Norwegian game companies have worked with foreign investors.
So what is being produced in Norway at the moment?
We are so excited for Klang, a rhythm game that also include fast-paced exploration, platforming, and combat! The art is vibrant and the challenges are hardcore. Klang is developed by a crazy talented one-man team called Tinimations. Klang is set for release later this year, so you still have some time to work on your rhythm!
Our dear friends at Moondrop are making another gorgeous and fun game with Degrees of Separation. This is a co-op game where you play as ice and fire who have to work together to traverse challenges, and the degrees that separates you from each other. They have not set a release date yet, but we are so looking forward to it!
Or maybe you are keen on an intense multiplayer arena brawler with robots? Then Corroded is the game for you! Corroded is developed by the young studio Encircle Games and they offer beta keys at the moment, so be sure to get one if you like robots and fighting!
Sarepta Studio is one of our oldest friends in game development and they always have an interesting project going on. Right now they are working on a game about a part of Norwegian history post World War II. It is a highly emotional story about children whose parents were Norwegian women and German male soldiers. These children were by many seen as leftovers from the German nazi occupation, and were hated and treated viciously. The game, called My Child Lebensborn, is in development and will be available for mobile devices.
We’re ending on a much more upbeat note with Manual Samuel from Perfectly Paranormal. In Manual Samuel you need to take control over Samuel and make him blink, breathe in, breathe out, walk (with the correct feet placements), and much more which creates a hilarious gameplay of falling on your face, and forgetting to breathe which will make you blue. The insanity of this game is best explained in the trailer! (See below)
The game will be released in 2017. Maybe. Hopefully!
All these games are all being developed by companies that work here at Hamar Game Collective, but there are loads of exciting stuff happening outside of Hamar as well in Norway. Titles like World to the West, Owlboy, Draugen, Fugl, Earthlock: Festival of Magic, Trolls vs Vikings 2, are all in development at different Norwegian studios.
So there you have an overview of a small part of what is going on in the Norwegian game development scene. Which games are you most excited about? Do you have any questions about Norwegian game development? Let us know in the comments!