Why Malmö is the hottest gaming city in Europe

Massive Entertainment may have put Malmö on the map, but there’s more to the city’s gaming industry than its best-known player.

Why Malmö is the hottest gaming city in Europe
Photo: Werner Nystrand

In Malmö, Sweden’s third-biggest city, games are something that are taken seriously.

After all, developing a game that makes $330 million in its opening week is no child’s play. But that’s exactly how much Tom Clancy’s The Division generated for Malmö-based game studio Massive Entertainment when it was released in March 2016.

Its success was soon outshone by news that Massive would partner with Lightbox Entertainment and Fox Interactive to develop several games based on James Cameron’s Avatar world.

The deal will lead to hundreds of new jobs in Malmö and the chance for international developers to work on one of the biggest projects in the world right now.

“Massive has been like a vacuum, sucking up talent from all over the world and bringing it to the region,” says Peter Lubeck, CEO of non-profit, community-driven organisation Game City.

Tom Clancy's The Division was developed by Malmö-based studio Massive Entertainment. Photo: BagoGames/Flickr

He adds that since the gaming behemoth established in Malmö twenty years ago, it has pulled in some of the world’s hottest developers. Many have since gone on to found their own studios in the region or join other emerging companies, expanding the region’s gaming ecosystem.

Start planning your trip to Malmö

There are now around 30 gaming companies in Malmö, ranging from Midnight Hub — a small indie studio of five developers who are currently working on the upcoming mystery game “Lake Ridden” — to gaming giants Massive and Candy Crush developer King which has a studio in the city.

“The gaming industry is Malmö is very supportive and inclusive,” says Sara Casen, studio manager and producer at Midnight Hub. “Big studios rub shoulders with smaller teams and share knowledge over the borders.”

The Midnight Hub team. Photo: Midnight Hub

It’s this community spirit that led the companies to collectively set up Game City in 2013. The member organisation’s goal is to increase collaboration and turn southern Sweden into Europe’s leading game region.

“We’re now the hub for anything to do with game development in the region. We interact with public officials, politicians, and people from other industries that are somehow interested in the games industry or want to collaborate,” explains Lubeck.

It’s the first port of call for anyone looking to get in touch with any of the game development companies in Malmö, organising everything from developer meet-ups to knowledge-sharing sessions, workshops and talks.

Most recently, Game City cooperated with Minc, an incubator for startups and entrepreneurs, to start Minc Game. The extension focuses solely on helping startups turn game ideas into game businesses.

“The games industry has a very specific combination of factors that makes it hard for people outside the industry to understand or support it. So we started Minc Game to help the Minc team with the game companies.”

Start planning your trip to Malmö

In its bid to become Europe’s gaming capital, Malmö is doing much more than nurturing the existing talent. It’s also training up the gaming talent of tomorrow at its university and at the university in nearby Lund to guarantee future growth.

Likewise Malmö’s Game Assembly, an organisation that trains game artists, game programmers, level designers, and technical artists, has educated seven percent of the Swedish games industry. It was named the second-best game design and development school in the world by The Rookies, an annual awards and mentor platform.

But Malmö’s strength as a gaming capital lies in the diversity of its gaming community, which encompasses much more than developers and designers.

In November 2017, Ludwig Sandgren set up The Final Tribe, a new eSports club based in the city. 

The fast-growing electronic sports (eSports) industry sees teams compete in gaming tournaments for prize pools upwards of $24 million.

The DreamHack Masters was hosted in Malmö two years running. Photo: Adela Sznajder/Flickr

“We want to build an eSports legacy based here in Malmö,” says Sandgren. “The plan is to become one of the best eSports companies in the world.”

Along with Malmö e-sport, a non-profit organisation that organises e-sport tournaments and creates training sites for players to meet, there’s huge potential for The Final Tribe to put Malmö on the map for eSports as well as game development.

The Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in 2017 reached over 46 million unique viewers — around 15 million more people than Nielsen reported watched Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Originally from Gothenburg, Sandgren moved to Malmö to form his team and says he feels as though in Malmö he has the chance to make a difference.

“It’s such a vibrant place to be. Coming from a bigger city, it feels like we’re really adding something to the ecosystem and contributing to the growth with something new.”

Indeed, Malmö’s multifaceted gaming ecosystem is what makes the city a bona fide contender for Europe’s gaming capital.

There’s just one final but crucial factor that truly propels it ahead of its competition.

The people, says Lubeck.

“People here are very keen on helping each other. The gaming community in Malmö is the friendliest and most supportive in Europe.”

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Malmö Stad.


Sweden launches bid to become world’s top tourism destination by 2030

Forget the pyramids, the canals of Venice or the Eiffel Tower – the Swedish government has presented a plan to make Sweden the world's most attractive tourism destination by 2030 – but it's not yet clear how.

Sweden launches bid to become world's top tourism destination by 2030
Many tourists are attracted to Sweden because of its nature. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

In a press conference on Monday, Sweden’s Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation Ibrahim Baylan outlined the new strategy, which aims to make Sweden “the world’s most sustainable and attractive tourism destination built on innovation” by 2030.

Baylan referred to Sweden as a country which “is usually ranked as one of the world’s most innovative countries”, which he argued can “create value for the tourism industry”.

According to Baylan, the strategy builds on “sustainability’s three dimensions – it has to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable”. The strategy will also “tie into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030”, he said.

Topics covered by the new tourism strategy include the climate impact of tourism, equality and inclusion in the tourism industry and the importance of preserving shared resources such as national parks and sustainable nature tourism such as fishing and hunting.

The press release highlights the importance of natural tourism, explaining that the pandemic has led to people visiting natural and cultural environments “to a greater extent than before”, increasing wear and tear to natural areas.

DISCOVER SWEDEN: The Local’s guide to Sweden’s top destinations and hidden gems

Tourism is an important industry for Sweden, providing employment in both urban and rural areas, as well as generating wealth – before the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry represented on average 2.7 percent of Sweden’s GDP per year. The tourism industry also employs a high amount of people from foreign backgrounds – making up over a third (34 percent) of all employees in the industry.

During the pandemic, overnight stays declined in almost every Swedish municipality, with the biggest declines seen in Sweden’s larger cities and border municipalitites.

The government’s plans also include a focus on jobs and skill development, so that workers have the right qualifications for the industry – this reflects issues currently faced by the restaurant and hotel industry in finding skilled workers in the wake of the pandemic. 

There are currently no details as to how the government will achieve this strategy, or indeed how it will measure success. But Sweden is aiming high if it wants to be the world’s most attractive tourist destination by 2030. In 2019, it was ranked the 54th top tourist destination in the world by the UN World Tourism Organisation.