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Why this Danish video game studio set up an office in Skåne

When IO Interactive, a Danish video game developer, decided to expand its operations into southern Sweden, they reached out to Invest in Skåne.

But the company famous for making mega-hit games didn’t do it through a networking connection or via a recommendation from a consultant. According to COO Martin Buhl Svanum, he learned about Invest in Skåne by doing what most people do after they’ve come up with an idea of what they want to do next: he did a web search.

Martin Buhl Svanum, Chief Operating Officer, IOInteractive

“I found it on Google,” says Svanum, “when I was researching how to get started.” He then sent an email and quickly heard back from an Investment Advisor at Invest in Skåne. “From that point on, he was very helpful. We got help in registering the business, getting a bank, and finding the right office.”

IO Interactive’s Malmö office (called “IOI Malmö”) was fully operational by January 2019 and, as IO Interactive CEO Hakan Abrak said in a press release at the time, has helped the company “expand [its] muscles for creating brand-new and exciting endeavours, new universes, new franchises.”

One single company, many different locations

IO Interactive has been providing gamers with entertainment options for over 20 years. Founded back in 1998, the company made a name for itself in the early 2000s with games like Freedom Fighters and the wildly popular Hitman series.

Aside from making exciting and innovative games, IO Interactive is also unique in that instead of expanding at one particular location, the company prefers to set up multiple smaller office locations around an area. This not only prevents an office from getting too cumbersome, but it provides employees with a better opportunity to connect as a community.

“Our strategy is to grow by adding more office locations, rather than growing too big in one location,” explains Svanum. “We believe it helps our culture and creativity with an environment where you know your colleagues by name.”
 

Game developer at IO Interactive
Game developer at IO Interactive in Malmö


A growing region for the game development industry

With its move to Malmö, IO Interactive became part of southern Sweden’s expanding and increasingly famous game development scene. Since the early 2000s, the video game industry has steadily grown throughout Skåne and shows no sign of stopping. The area has 4.8 times more studios per capita than London , while Swedish registered companies as a whole added almost 2,600 full-time employees in 2018 alone (an increase of 48%) (Swedish Game Developer Index 2019).

So why do game companies seem drawn to the region? There are a few key factors, including that Malmö is home to one of the top-ranked schools for game development in the world and Skåne has one of the lowest game development costs in all of Europe (game studios enjoy an average tax deduction of about 7.7%). Big names in the industry noticed and took advantage...and that itself has become a draw.  

“The most interesting aspect for us is that Malmö has a few bigger game studios already,” says Svanum. Those major companies, in addition to IO Interactive, include Massive Entertainment, a Ubisoft studio and King.

“...it would be nice for the early employees to have a community from the beginning.”

Inspired by the growing need to develop a community around the game development industry, Game Habitat DevHub came on the Skåne scene in the fall of 2018. Created and managed by a non-profit organisation, it provides game developers with a unique and much-needed space where they can co-work in peace with like-minded individuals.

But DevHub does more than give people a place to work, however; it serves as a meeting place where members of the game development community can come together to share ideas, brainstorm solutions, or simply connect with other people who share their love of gaming. It was this much-needed sense of community that particularly appealed to Svanum in IO Interactive’s search for office space.

“When we heard about the possibility of moving into the DevHub building, we liked the idea because it would be nice for the early employees to have a community from the beginning,” he explains.

How Invest in Skåne helped IO Interactive

When IO Interactive was ready to set down roots in southern Sweden, Invest in Skåne was on hand to help make the process fast and easy. From the first time COO Martin Buhl Svanum reached out, he was impressed by the level of support and responsiveness.

“Our contact, Fredrik Jonsson very quickly got in touch with me after I sent an email,” Svanum says. “From that point on, he was very helpful. We got help in registering the business, getting a bank and finding the right office.”
Invest in Skåne also provided IO Interactive with assistance in unraveling the often confusing linguistic and legal complications that come with setting up a business in another country.

“Quite a lot of things are different when it comes to Employment Law,” Svanum says, “so it has been a learning experience.” And through every step of the process, Invest in Skåne has been on hand to provide the information and resources IO Interactive and other companies are looking for."