Sybo was born in the Danish gaming community. After becoming an international developer with huge financial success, they are now doing their best to give back to the community.
This article is sponsored by SYBO – one of the partners who made “Games as a Business 2021” possible.
SYBO started out as a humble indie studio trying to make ends meet just a decade ago. They bounced ideas back and forth with the rest of the Danish games-community while trying to get their mobile game studio off of the ground. Then they released Subway Surfers alongside their co-developers Kiloo and struck gold.
With more than 3 billion downloads globally, the mobile game is the most downloaded over the past decade. Along the way, this has made SYBO a very profitable business, and that has not only brought benefits to SYBO alone.
“When SYBO was founded, both founders wanted to make a successful studio. And the second they turned that corner they wanted to use their influence to help make others successful,” Mathias Gredal Nørvig, CEO of SYBO says.
The Copenhagen-based gaming studio still feels a responsibility toward the ecosystem they came from. Not that long ago, they were the newcomers, and today they try to help other newcomers grow as well.
”We’re proud to be one of the beacons of the industry, and we take that badge with a lot of responsibility; we want to be the tide that lifts the other boats. We haven’t been shy of using our influence, introductions, competencies or finances to help lift other studios,” Gredal Nørvig says.
Investing in the ecosystem
One of the more direct ways SYBO helps the Danish games ecosystem is through investments.
“We have made one big, direct investment in Funday Factory in Aarhus, and several others in minor studios. At the same time, we invest indirectly through London Venture Partners, where we are partners, and they have, among others things, invested in the Danish studio BetaDwarf,” Gredal Nørvig explains.
This doesn’t mean that SYBO was the reason the investment happened. BetaDwarf first and foremost got the investment because of the excellence of their studio, but the introduction made by SYBO was instrumental in making the two parties meet.
Investors, as well as other industry veterans, trust SYBO, which allows SYBO to connect new Danish studios with giants like Apple, Google and Facebook.
“We introduced Funday Factory to Snapchat and Apple Arcade. That was clearly an opportunity, and they have been able to seize it and execute on the opportunity. That’s not to say it wouldn’t have happened without our involvement, but as a trusted connector we have been able to speed things up and help them hit the ground running. We take that with a lot of pride, but also humility,” Gredal Nørvig says.
Banding toward politics
However, boosting the business side of Danish newcomers isn’t the only item on SYBO’s agenda. They also want to make an impact on the Danish ecosystem in a broader sense. First and foremost, by signing up to Danish Producers’ Association.
“We weren’t the first game studio, but we were the first of our size, which allowed us to speak about games as a business and the global ambitions of gaming with a louder voice,” Gredal Nørvig says.
It’s been a long road to get politicians to talk about games as the rapidly growing global industry it is and convincing them that the industry is a viable career path with pension and security. Along the way, SYBO has been invited to join the Danish government’s Creative Growth Forum as the first game company, the Business Forum at the Municipality of Copenhagen and as part of the Business Leaders Association.
Recently, SYBO co-initiated Vision Denmark, a new business cluster for the digital visual industries in Denmark, alongside Nordisk Film, Unity and existing NGO-players. Since this foundation, Vision Denmark has recently been appointed as one of just 14 new, official business clusters in Denmark.
“All those tiny wins for us are major steps forward for games as an industry in Denmark. And we are not alone anymore. Tactile Games has grown to become a huge company. IO Interactive is now a real player again. Funday Factory, BetaDwarf, Ghost Ship Games and Triband. We are actually a growing industry with more than 10 big companies that pay their employees a firm salary and contribute a lot in tax revenue,” Gredal Nørvig says.
The world needs more SYBOs
In some ways, it also benefits SYBO to have a strong community in Denmark. Among other things, it helps attract foreign talent – with almost three-fourths of their current hires being international.
“There is a dream scenario where we have not just 5 or 10 but 20 or 30 SYBOs in Denmark; International players in each of their categories so we can share and grow with each other. We have never been closer to that dream,” Gredal Nørvig says.
Yet, as a wildly successful company in an international market and industry, SYBO isn’t overly affected by the state of the games industries in Denmark. It is more a question of helping to grow the community that fostered them.
For more info or follow-up on SYBO: Jonas Rugaard, Jonas@kudos.dk.
This article is part of the theme “Games as a Business 2021”. You find the next part of the series right here: