What kind of game developers will Nordisk Film invest in?

A sunny morning in the Copenhagen suburb of Valby, a sizeable portion of the local game development community was ushered into the darkness of a cinema at Nordisk Film - the 110 years old film production company, that’s now a part of the pan-Nordic Egmont corporation. The latest incarnation of the Growing Games Workshop for upcoming game developers was about to start.

 

But why would Growing Games end up at Nordisk Film? The answer is easy. With the recent announcement of their new initiative Nordisk Film Games, Nordisk Film has chosen to enter the fast-growing Nordic games industry. And what better way to introduce themselves, than to host Growing Games.

During the Workshop, Managing Director of Nordisk Film Games, Mikkel Weider, introduced the new initiative to the attending game developers. We caught up afterward with Mikkel, to let him fill in a few more details about the new initiative, that’s planning to invest a nine-figure amount in Danish Kroner in Nordic game developers the next two years, and who recently announced swedish gamedev veteran Martin Walfisz as senior partner.

How did the idea for establishing Nordisk Film Games come about?

Mikkel explains, that games as an area for investment was not chosen outright, but rather singled out among a field of 17 different areas, that Nordisk Film and Egmont examined, to evaluate their potential as new fields of business.

“And games just stood out from the field,” Mikkel explains. “We were looking for something which had a reasonable market size, something which had a reasonable growth, and something that was already happening in the Nordic region. All of which applies to games.”

Mikkel also explains, that they felt, that games fitted in well with the other activities in the Egmont company. “Our company motto is ‘We bring stories to life’. And as with film, tv, and books, games are very much about just that - bringing stories to life.”

“Well, we looked at the different options, and we really felt that this was the most attractive model,”


What kind of companies are Nordisk Film Games looking to invest in?

Mikkel explains, that they envision Nordisk Film Games as fitting into a gap that currently exists in the market. “As we see it, there is a number of options, if you are a gamedev startup. You have investments from Capnova, the DFI game funding scheme, other support programs, and help from Interactive Denmark. But we saw, that there was something missing in the ‘middle’-field, where you are not yet extremely profitable, but you have some experience and a few titles under your belt.”

“I’d say our target is companies with somewhere between 10 and 100 employees, but this is of course also a choice we make, to try and reduce the risk a bit,” Mikkel explains. “Here we know, that it’s someone who can probably get some traction, who already has some cashflow, and are selling some games, and not someone, who are out there for the first time trying something completely new.”

How do you find the companies, you want to invest in?

“We’re trying to be pretty active in the industry,” Mikkel answers and explains, that they see the Nordic games Indsutry as having a size that’s nice, but not unmanageable. “There are some who contacts us, and there are some that we contact, and then we put all that into our big ‘Excell-sheet of Opportunities’, which is already quite long.”

But as Mikkel explains, they are not only registering companies, that might be immediately ready for investments, but also those, that might take 1-2-3 years to become viable for Nordisk Film Games to put money in.

“So yeah, we’re drinking a lot of coffee..or tea... with all these people. And were hosting stuff like Growing Games, and we’ll also be attending conferences, maybe give some talks. So I’d expect us to get in contact with most of the Nordic games industry one way or another.”

“Our investments are definitely long-term. We are not very exit-oriented. We are participating in the games industry with the intention to be here for many years to come."


What is the investment model like - and why?

Nordisk Film Games has already announced, that they will typically take a minority stake in the companies they invest in and that the investments will be in the companies as such, and not in individual projects. But what is the reasoning behind this decision?

“Well, we looked at the different options, and we really felt that this was the most attractive model,” Mikkel says, as he compares it to the lengthy and cumbersome process that would happen, if Nordisk Film Games had decided to hire their own people, and begin producing games in-house. “We would prefer to be involved in more companies since this a still a pretty hit-reliant business area.”

“Another reason is, that we are not yet World Champions at understanding the industry, but a lot of the founders out there are. So we’d rather empower them and let them keep the majority of the company, so we’re not the ones telling them, how to develop games. We’d much rather assist them, spar with them, and be facilitators and partners, that help them do their thing.”

Fast exits or long term investments?

Mikkel also emphasizes, that even though the initial plan for Nordisk Film Games is only spanning a couple of years, the plan is to stay active in the industry for many years. “Our investments are definitely long-term. We are not very exit-oriented. We are participating in the games industry with the intention to be here for many years to come. I mean - we’ve been in the film industry for 110 years, so we’d like to take 110 years in the games industry as well.”

“That separate us from a lot of venture capital companies and capital funds, who have an intention to exit within five years. But we’d rather help build up the great game studios of the future than reach a quick exit. We’re there to help the developers go from 10 to 20 employees, 20 to 40, 40 to 80, and so on. That’s what we want. To professionalize and help them go to the next level.”

Do you have any preferences regarding platform or genre?

“We’re not too keen to be locked into any one specific platform. But we had a general idea, that we wanted to go into something, that has a universe and some story, rather than something more hardcore-mobile-puzzly,” Mikkel tells, pointing to, how this both fits better with the motto of Egmont, “We bring stories to life”, as well as avoiding what Mikkel describes as a incredibly competitive market for bare-bones puzzle games on mobile platforms.

“I mean, we also know a lot more about how to work with stories, IP’s, brand building, fiction and that kind of stuff”

What’s next for Nordisk Film Games?

The plan for the next two years has been announced, but we also asked Mikkel, if they already had some plan for, what they are going to do after the initial phase is over.

“Well, we’re going to see, how things progress. What’s happening, and how long it will take us to invest these funds. But we have a clear ambition to remain in the industry for a lot longer than this initial round. We want to continue to invest in the industry, even after this first round is over.”