Is he about to go through the ceiling?

Anyone who has taken a look at Microsoft Xbox 360’s downloadable Arcade titles can hardly have failed to notice one title in particular sitting pretty at the top of the downloaded charts. Developed by Finnish company RedLynx Limited, Trials HD is an insanely addictive game involving a motorbike and obstacle courses of ever-increasing difficulty. It is by all accounts one of the best-selling downloadable titles on the 360, having sold over 500,000 digital copies since its launch in mid-August last year.

The immense success of the game has bucked the economic trend. “It’s harder to justify a 50 or 60 euro price tag for a retail game in stores these days,” says RedLynx CEO Tero Virtala. “Although the retail industry will probably survive in the future, the idea of digital downloads of games provides more gaming opportunities for consumers and developers.”

For Virtala, Finland has become something of a haven for game developers. “Finland hasn’t had huge amounts of game developers capable of building teams of hundreds of people that are required for massive retail games.  But we have extremely talented developers, and now that digital distribution also opens up opportunities for smaller teams we are in a really good position.”

“What the games development industry needs are people who understand games, which we have in this country. Finland is a very technology-oriented society. Many people in their 30s and 40s have been playing computer games since the 1980s and there’s been a popular amateur development scene for two decades, which has provided and continues to provide talented people for the industry.”

Trials HD is available for
download from the Xbox
Live Marketplace.

The shift to digital distribution is perhaps the biggest factor involved in making games development a possibility beyond the massive games studios. “These days you can develop quality titles with a team of 20 people,” explains Virtala, “and provide customers with direct access to the titles.”

Nick Barlow