Esports tournament

Nordic gaming dominance is still alive and well

By William Davis


Oct 18, 2022

Reading time: 3 min

Playing video games is one of the truly international hobbies, with people from all around the world involved in video games. While the majority of gamers are young men, all demographics are increasingly enjoying gaming as an activity. Japan, South Korea, and America have a long history of dominating the world of gaming but in recent years, the Nordic countries have become the true leaders.

The countries included within the designation of Nordic are Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. For a region with a relatively small population – the population of all of the Nordic countries combined is just under 30 million – these countries dominate multiple facets of the gaming industry. This article will look at three gaming sectors that are dominated by Nordic players or companies.

Game development

In the early days of video game development, there were only a handful of companies that developed the vast majority of games. Most of these companies were based in the United States or Japan. However, we are currently in the middle of an indie developer renaissance. Small game studios have sprung up all over the world, with a concentration in the Nordic countries.

According to a recent evaluation of the industry, there are nearly 500 gaming companies operating in Nordic countries today. These companies cover every sector of the industry, from console games and PC games to online and mobile games.

One of the biggest game companies is the Sweden-based Embracer Group. Embracer Group is a conglomerate of 120 game development studios, including Coffee Stain Studios, 3D Realms, Neon Giant and Tarsier Studios.

Finland is particularly known for its mobile game studios. They were, in fact, among the earliest mobile game developers (think Snake!) and continue to innovate and improve the industry. Finland is also the home of Housemarque, an early indie studio that has produced quality games for decades.


Competitive esports are finally recognized as a sport like any other – they require specialized skills, endurance, stamina, teamwork, and strategic abilities. The biggest esports games are Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Valorant, League of Legends, Dota 2, Fortnight, Overwatch, and Rocket League. Since the earliest days of esports, Nordic players have been among the elite across most of the most popular esports games.

Two of the most successful Nordic esports teams are Astralis and Fnatic. Astralis is based in Denmark and is a CSGO team. Its current active roster includes esports icons like Andres “Xyp9x” Højsleth, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander, and Benjamin “blameF” Bremer.

The team is headed by gla1ve, one of the best players in the world, having led Astralis to four victories in major tournaments. His dedication to the game is impressive – he continued playing despite a collapsed lung during the 2016 Assembly Winter tournament.

Fnatic provides Astralis with tough competition in CSGO. While the Fnatic organization is British, their elite CSGO team has always been based in Sweden. This is one of the first years in which the majority of the players on the team aren’t Swedish. KRIMZ is currently the only Swedish player on the team and he has been essential to their success in the six years he has played with Fnatic. He is considered one of the most consistent players in the game and has a reputation for his amazing clutch ability.

Online gambling

The third gaming sector in which Nordic countries are dominating is online gambling. Online gambling is very popular across all of the Nordic countries – we can look at Thrills casino as an example. This online casino is geared primarily towards Nordic and Northern European players, despite the potential for a global audience.

One of the reasons why online gambling is so popular and so successful in Nordic countries is because they have embraced sensible gambling legislation. These governments have acknowledged that people will play at online casinos no matter what, so the best course of action is to provide safe and secure access to online gambling. In doing so, they have created a healthy environment with plenty of safeguards for players.

Norway and Finland both maintain monopolies over online gambling in their countries, while Sweden and Denmark have instead chosen to focus on strong governmental oversight of independent online casinos. Both of these models work well, as evidenced by how popular legal online gambling is across the region.