Mojang actually is even more profitable than stated in the article. Unbelievably profitable.
Mojang AB's profit is 324m SEK after taxes (39.3% profit margin before taxes) but they also paid out a lot money to Notch Development AB  (Which is 100% owned by Notch) in licensing fees. Notch Development AB had 637m in revenue, (almost?) all of it from the licensing fees from Mojang, with a profit of 467m (97.24% profit margin before taxes)
Mojang AB is owned by Notch, Carl Manneh and Jakob Porsér while Notch Development is soley owned by Notch. That is some good future proofing of his assets, in case of disputes or whatever down the line.
Not to mention that they make up around 40% of the Swedish Game Dev revenue and 70 all of the profit. Though, most other devs are actually owned by EA et al. So there is probably some Hollywood-style accounting going on
We should see a good spike in Starbreeze's revenue as well as both Payday 2 and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons have sold well and received good reviews.
I expect there will be a fair few mobile/casual game companies coming up once the devs over King start creating new companies. Candy Crush has been such as success that we will probably see more along that line in the future.
Yep! As part of the article research, we actually came across countless companies who have developers who have contributed to some of the bigger hits like CC etc. Will be very interesting to see how those dev's use that knowledge and apply it to new companies.
In the 1990′s, the Swedish government subsidized the cost of computers for every family, allowing any Swedish family to buy a personal computer. This must’ve had a great impact – allowing a generation of Swedish kids to mess around with computers, coding and technology.
I've heard a similar argument made for why Dundee became a hub of computer game development in the UK — access to cheap computers for working-class families. (plus Dundee also has long cold winters)
In Dundee's case it was access to Sinclair ZX Spectrums that 'accidentally' went missing from the Timex factory.
Already back in the glory days of the demo scene, the best teams came from Sweden, with the other Scandinavian countries also well represented.
It is definitely both a culture and a climate thing. The point about consensus culture is a good observation - in some contexts it can be crippling, but in creative-technical hybrid endeavors like games, these teams can really do some damage.
The demo scene was indeed strong in Sweden. Several of the Swedish game developers started out there. Digitial Illusions (the DI in DICE) started out as the demo group The Silents and wrote pinball games for the Amiga. Several members from TBL (the Black Lotus) later came to work in the games industry.
Trivia: Stefan Boberg who is a technical director on Frostbite wrote the Amiga version of LHA which was the file compressor on Amiga.
The 4th is (http://www.recompile.se/). We aren't very active yet - still trying to find the right hook to get people interested. We aim to provide a professional-style software development environment with somewhat of a free software activism slant.
We do currently cooperate with the Filurum (https://www.facebook.com/filurum) gifted children group to provide a meeting place every week - in fact, it's what I'm doing later today.
Do you know if there is an active indie game development scene in Sweden? I looked around for some swedish indie game development focused sites and those I found seemed pretty dead, like indiegamedev.se.
One reason for the flourishing gaming scene in particular, and the many startups in general, that hasn't been mentioned here yet, is the very strong social safety net. People can afford to take risks even after they have started a family. Losing your job, or that your startup tanks, doesn't mean that you lose health insurance or your kids access to a good education, or that you have to worry that you don't can afford food or a roof over your head.
(It's not that screwing up doesn't have any consequences at all. You won't be able to keep your expensive apartment or fancy car while on welfare, but all your basic needs will be covered.)
There's a very strong individualist current in Scandinavia, but interpreted differently. Many people actually view Americans and southern Europeans as more collectivist, in the clannish sense, because of their reliance on family, extended-family, and churches for safety nets. The ideal in Scandinavia is that each individual can go it alone roughly equally, rather than e.g. having to rely on your parents to pay part of your university, your kids to take care of you in your old age, family to take you in if you're disabled or broke, etc.
Back in my active esport times (quake2, quake3) sweden also had the best players and teams most of the time and i believe thats still true to this day. I am pretty sure its due to excellent IT infrastructure and long winters ;)
I'm a Swedish product designer and engineer, and think Swedish creativity is the same and any other country's: it's about taking stuff you've learned in one field and applying it to another.
Swedish people in my not entirely unbiased opinion tend to be exceptionally good at this and I think that's because education tends to be very broad - if you want to take music lessons and learn to play an instrument in Sweden it's essentially paid for by the state. Want to create a study group to learn about painting, same thing. If you go to study say engineering physics at a masters program, they'll also force you to learn at least the basics in fields like construction, electrical engineering, software engineering, etc. When you exit high school, even if you've taken a scientific route, you've learned about wood work, mechanical engineering, probably at least 2 languages beyond Swedish, etc.
Part of this I think is attributable to the culture isn't so focused on knowledge being measured or "accounted for" financially.
A second reason is probably that it's pretty cold in Sweden in the winters, but I don't think that has nearly as much to do with it.
Disclaimer: I'm born 77 and left the country 99. Some people claim that education isn't as good as it used to be. I don't know, but I think most of the people creating kick ass products right now are people that were born in the 80s or earlier.
Yeah, the San Francisco office is now officially the headquarters (moved from Copenhagen in 2009), but as you can see from the bios of the people listed as being in SF on that page, it's almost exclusively the sales and finance office, not where engine dev takes place.
As a person who has spent his professional career developing games all over the world, I would say that part of it is that there are fewer competing industries drawing away talent in Sweden. Games are one of thoese things you can do almost anywhere if you can get the right art, design and tech talent together. In the US you have a strong film and television industry, a lot of tech companies and start ups, driving up the demand for talent. In Sweden you have less of that.
The tech industry might not be big in comparison to the US, but per capita I would think it is. Sweden's prosperity was built largely on technology, engineering, natural resources and heavy industry. The economy is pretty diversified now, with large fashion, design and bio-medical industries as well. In general, just like you say, the entertainment industries and financial industries are much smaller.
My guess for why there are so many game developers in Sweden: people are free to pursue whatever they want, without much financial pressures. People don't rush through college, because there's no tuition. They're not as pressured to go into high-paying industries because they have less debt to pay off. That combined with early access to computers and internet creates an environment where people pursue their passions, for better or worse.
They should have mentioned Starbreeze which seems to have found gold with its Payday 2. But from what I understand it is not Starbreeze that will make the new Riddick game, but another Swedish developer Machine Games (which was founded by a bunch of old Starbreeze staff after the Syndicate flop)
There's a Swedish iOS game developer that's quite successful as well, Toca Boca. They're doing games for the small ones and as a father of two I have every single game they've developed on my iPads. Quality work that sits well with my kids.