The first known Finnish digital game was released as early as 1979: Chesmac, a chess game designed by Raimo Suonio. However, serious game development efforts did not begin until home computers gained popularity in the beginning of the following decade.
At first, game development was mostly a hobby, but in the mid-1980s, developers released the first commercial games. These early game releases targeted the domestic market. The first game to be distributed internationally was Sanxion, which debuted in 1986.
Up until the early 1980s, games were typically innovations led by a single developer. However, towards the end of the decade, game developers begun to cooperate, giving rise to the first game development teams.
A major boost came from game developer events, including the notable Assembly, which was first organised in 1992 and continues to date. These gaming teams, i.e., demo groups, also gave rise to the first Finnish game studios. The oldest Finnish gaming companies still in operation, Housemarque and Remedy Entertainment, are strongly rooted in these demo groups.
In the mid-’90s, games were mostly developed for home computers. However, 1999 saw a major shift when Nokia introduced the WAP standard, which seemed like a promising platform in terms of game development. Several game studios were set up in its wake, and the Finnish Game Industry saw its first boom.
WAP did not, however, meet expectations, and with the downfall of WAP down went the mobile game studios of the first wave. Successes, though, were had on other fronts. In PC and console games, Housemarque’s Supreme Snowboarding and Remedy’s Max Payne proved big hits, and Sulake’s Hotel Goldfish (later Habbo Hotel) became an internet sensation.