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Execs Behind Candy Crush and Angry Birds Back Swedish Game Accelerator

Getting started in the games business is tough. Why not try a holiday in Sweden this year?

Where is the next crop of top videogame developers going to come from? Maybe the woods, if a new accelerator program out of Sweden takes off.

The nonprofit program is called Stugan, named after rural vacation cabins or cottages called stuga. And it’s backed by executives from some of the country’s top gaming talent: Tommy Palm, who works in game development at Candy Crush Saga maker King; Oskar Burman, the general manager of Angry Birds maker Rovio’s Stockholm office; and Christofer Sundberg, the creative director of Avalanche Studios, which develops the Just Cause series of games.

Stugan will send 20 developers, who can apply from anywhere in the world, to a stuga in the wilderness and supply them with food, shelter and mentorship for eight weeks as they try to accomplish a goal. That goal can be pretty much anything, from getting an alpha version of a game ready for Kickstarter to soft-launching a beta version or even launching the full game. Stugan’s team will choose its class based on whatever seems most interesting and achievable.

In an interview with Re/code, Burman stressed that the class will “own their ideas.” The executives funding the program don’t take any equity, and it has no formal ties to their companies. Instead, Burman characterized Stugan as an aid for people entering a competitive, often grueling industry.

“For me, it’s about making the journey a bit easier,” he said. “We’re using wealth to make it easier to get started.”

Developers from other Swedish game companies, including Minecraft maker Mojang, have also contributed to the accelerator’s fund, as has the Swedish government and the Swedish Games Industry trade group. Burman said the people who complete the program will benefit from a strong developer network.

“I think we’re going to see people [publishers and employers] fighting over these teams” after the eight weeks are up, he said.

He added that Stugan might live-stream its developers’ progress every week online, to give developers and their games more exposure to potential fans early on.

Video applications will open next year for the summer 2015 class, and Burman said the program will not accept groups of more than a few developers.

“It could be 20 one-man teams, or a couple three-man or four-man teams,” he said. “Minecraft was built by one guy, so there’s plenty of opportunities.”

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