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Starbreeze – the best Nordic developer

Bengt Lemne · 7 Maj 2008
Uppdaterad 15 Feb 2011
“We are a close-knit group where all members have great respect for each other’s expertise”, says Johan Kristiansson, CEO of ­Star­breeze about the success of the company. 

“We are a close-knit group where all members have great respect for each other’s expertise”, says Johan Kristiansson, CEO of ­Star­breeze about the success of the company.  Foto: Linus Meyer


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NUMBER ONE. Metro Teknik talks to Johan Kristiansson, CEO of Uppsala based Star­breeze. The company takes first place in our ranking of the hottest in the Nordic region.•• How can a small company from Uppsala secure the business of two of the world’s largest game publi­shers?– A game developer has to have capable people in three key areas: technology, creativity and project leadership. I think that we been fairly successful here. We are a close-knit group where all members have great respect for each other’s expertise.

•• How do Nordic game developers compare with the rest of the world? – Just at the moment it is actually going very well for many Swedish game developers. I can however see a cloud on the horizon in the weak US$. Contracts signed by Swedish developers are now worth some 30 percent less than they would have done a couple of years ago.

•• How does the spate of mergers and acquisitions in the game industry in recent years affect an independent company such as Starbreeze?– The spate of mergers among game publishers means that we have fewer potential customers. How­ever, quite a few game studios have filed for bankruptcy over the last year and so we also have fewer competitors. More money, spent on fewer titles is good for Starbreeze, as we are quite well placed for the really large productions.

•• The game sector seems to be prospering despite the less than positive economic outlook. Why do you think this is?– The game industry has been growing at over ten percent per annum for several decades and that I believe will continue. I think that we have seen only the beginning of how successful the game industry is set to become.

••If you look into your crystal ball. How do think Starbreeze will look in ten years?– I hope that we will then be established as one of the most innovative game studios in the world, that our typical budget for a game will exceed 500 million kronor, that our games gain an average rating of over 90 percent at Metacritics.com and that as a rule we publish editions in excess of 5 million copies.

"The Darkness" from Starbreeze
"The Darkness" from Starbreeze
"Mirror´s edge" from Digital Illusions
"Mirror´s edge" from Digital Illusions
Max Payne from Remedy Entertainment
Max Payne from Remedy Entertainment

Top 10

The hottest Nordic game developers right now

1. Starbreeze Uppsala, SwedenThe studio behind major games such as “The Chronicles of Riddick” and “The Darkness” ia currently working on two new games for the two largest game developers in the world at the moment, Activision Blizzard and EA.2. Digital Illusions Stockholm, SwedenDice had a quiet year last year, but this year they are ready to launch several major projects. The free game “Battlefield Heroes”, “Battlefield: Bad Company” and the exciting “Mirror’s Edge”. 3. Remedy Entertainment Esbo, FinlandThe studio behind the extremely successful “Max Payne” game is set to launch the exceptionally promising thriller “Alan Wake” later this year.4. Massive EntertainmentMalmö, Sweden“World in Conflict” was the major Swedish game of last year and has won praise across the world. This year will see the release of an expansion as well as a console version.5. Grin Stockholm and Gothenburg, SwedenAfter a couple of quiet years Grin created the PC versions of “Ghost Advanced Warfighter”1 and 2 for Ubisoft. This year will see the hotly anticipated sequel to the the classic  “Bionic Commando”.6. FuncomOslo, NorwayMay 23rd sees the launch of “Age of Conan”, an online role-playing game which Norwegian Funcom has been working on for almost five years. A strong challenger to “World of Warcraft”.7. Avalanche StudiosStockholm, SwedenAvalanche had a solid debut with “Just Cause” in 2006 and the sequel “Just Cause 2” will be released this year. Avalanche is also working on a couple of other projects.8. Simbin Vara and Gothenburg, SwedenScandinavia’s foremost developer of racing games has major plans this year. Among other things, a game based on STCC as well as a close cooperation with WTCC, including the declaration of a virtual racing world champion.9. IO Interactive Copenhagen, DenmarkThe studio behind the successful “Hitman” game is tumbling down the rankings as their latest “Kane & Lynch: Dead Men” did not come close to meeting expectations.10. CCPReykjavik, IcelandThe Icelandic studio has created the popular online space adventure “Eve Online” World of Warcraft’s shadow. This year will see the democratization of the online world with elected game representatives.  

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Bengt Lemne
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