Embracer Group

  (Redirected from THQ Nordic AB)

Embracer Group AB (formerly Nordic Games Publishing AB and THQ Nordic AB) is a Swedish video game holding company based in Karlstad. The company was established under the name Nordic Games in December 2008, forming the video game publishing subsidiary of game retailer Game Outlet Europe. Co-founders include chief executive officer and Game Outlet Europe founder Lars Wingefors, Pelle Lundborg, and Nik Blower. In 2011, Nordic Games established a second office, Nordic Games GmbH, in Vienna, Austria, and soon shifted its publishing operations to the new office.

Embracer Group AB
Formerly
  • Nordic Games Publishing AB (2008–2016)
  • THQ Nordic AB (2016–2019)
TypePublic
Nasdaq StockholmEMBRAC B
ISINSE0009241706
IndustryVideo games
FoundedDecember 2008; 12 years ago (2008-12)
Founders
  • Lars Wingefors
  • Pelle Lundborg
  • Nik Blower
Headquarters,
Sweden
Key people
RevenueIncrease 6,562.6 million kr[2] (2018)
Increase 574.6 million kr[2] (2018)
Increase 396.8 million kr[2] (2018)
Total assetsIncrease 8,608.2 million kr[2] (2018)
Total equityIncrease 5,712.8 million kr[2] (2018)
Owners
  • Lars Wingefors (35.1%)[2]
  • Erik Stenberg (7.61%)[2]
Number of employees
Increase 4,389[3] (2020)
Parent
  • Game Outlet Europe (2008–2011)
  • Nordic Games Group (2011–2016)
SubsidiariesSee § Subsidiaries
Websiteembracer.com

In August 2016, Nordic Games, together with its Viennese office, was renamed THQ Nordic, using the "THQ" trademark that it had acquired in 2014, and in November 2016, the company became a public company listed on Nasdaq First North. Throughout 2018, THQ Nordic acquired Koch Media Holding (parent of Koch Media) and Coffee Stain Holding (parent of Coffee Stain Studios), both of which operate independently under THQ Nordic, complementary to THQ Nordic GmbH. To avoid confusion with THQ Nordic GmbH and to clarify its position as a holding company, THQ Nordic AB was renamed Embracer Group in September 2019, while THQ Nordic GmbH retained its name.

Embracer Group has eight operative groups as its direct subsidiaries: Amplifier Game Invest, Coffee Stain Holding, DECA Games, Easybrain, Gearbox Entertainment, Koch Media, Saber Interactive and THQ Nordic. Each group has its own operations, subsidiaries and development studios.

HistoryEdit

The original Nordic Games (1990s–2004)Edit

At an early age, Swedish entrepreneur Lars Wingefors began successfully selling a diverse range of products, including Christmas magazines and plastic bags, and when he was 13 years old, he founded LW Comics, a company that sold second-hand comic books.[4][5] He established the business as a mail order company using a 2,000-entry customer register he had acquired from another, defunct mail order company.[4] The company made close to 300,000 kr annually.[4] At age 16, Wingefors established a second company, Nordic Games, which did the same as LW Comics, though with used video games instead of comics.[4] In its first year, the company generated 5 million kr in revenue.[4] With growing income throughout the 1990s, Nordic Games was turned into a retail chain—in the same vein as British video game retail company Game—and opened seven stores across Sweden.[4] The company also acquired Spel- & Tele shopen, a game shop in Linköping, Sweden, that had been founded by Pelle Lundborg four years prior.[6]

Towards the end of the 1990s, Nordic Games was suffering from a poor corporate structure, and Wingefors was asked to either seek new partners or bring in venture capital, though he instead opted to sell the company to Gameplay Stockholm, the Swedish subsidiary of Europe-wide retailer Gameplay.com, in March 2000 for Gameplay.com stock valued at GB£5.96 million.[4][7] Under Gameplay, Nordic Games failed to generate much revenue; the company tried to establish mobile game, digital distribution and cable TV box businesses, all of which did not gain traction.[4] When the dot-com bubble burst, Gameplay faced financial issues, and Nordic Games was sold back to Wingefors in May 2001 for a symbolic sum of 1 kr (at the time equivalent to GB£0.07).[4][8][9] Wingefors brought in venture capitalists and reformed the company to only sell newly released games, but the company faced strong competition and finally filed for bankruptcy in 2004.[4]

The new Nordic Games (2004–2011)Edit

 
Former Nordic Games logo (2008–2016)

Wingefors invested the money he had left into a new limited company and, together with potential customers acting as investors, reformed Nordic Games under the name Game Outlet Europe.[4] The new company saw success with purchasing unsold stock from larger video game companies, such as Electronic Arts, repackaging them on pallets in its Karlstad headquarters, and selling them on the international market and through other retail chains, such as Jula, Coop and ICA.[4][5] In December 2008, a new company with the name Nordic Games was established as the video game publishing subsidiary of Game Outlet Europe.[6] The subsidiary started out with seven people, including Wingefors—as primary shareholder—based at the company's headquarters in Karlstad, Lundborg—as chief executive officer—based in Málaga, Spain, and Nik Blower, based in London, England.[6][10]

The idea behind the new Nordic Games was to invest in the development of games that would fill gaps in the video game market; Wingefors and Lundborg had noticed that the line-up of games for Nintendo platforms was lacking karaoke games similar to SingStar, which was exclusive to PlayStation consoles.[6] Based on 100-page requirement documents from Nintendo, which included that the game's microphones should be produced by Logitech, and four months of research at a karaoke bar in Watford, England, Nordic Games assembled a song list for the game and started producing what would later become We Sing.[6] Around this time, Nordic Games also released Dance Party Club Hits, a dance game that came packaged with a dancing mat.[6] In 2009, Nordic Games had a turnover of 50 million kr, of which 75% were accounted for by We Sing's sales.[6] For 2010, the company projected a turnover of 200 million kr, while at the same time, Lundborg was looking for new investors in the company to make it independent from Game Outlet Europe.[6] By March 2011, Nordic Games Holding had been established as a holding company, with Game Outlet Europe and Nordic Games aligned as its subsidiaries.[4]

International expansion (2011–2018)Edit

 
Former THQ Nordic AB logo (2016–2019)

In June 2011, Nordic Games Holding acquired the assets of insolvent publisher JoWooD Entertainment and its subsidiaries.[11][12] The acquired assets were transferred to Nordic Games GmbH, a subsidiary office of Nordic Games that had been established in Vienna, Austria, earlier that year.[13] Several former JoWooD employees were hired by Nordic Games GmbH to work on backlog sales of former JoWooD properties, and the publishing team from Nordic Games was soon integrated into Nordic Games GmbH to facilitate operations.[14] In April 2013, Nordic Games Licensing, on behalf of Nordic Games Holding (now renamed Nordic Games Group), acquired many assets of bankrupt publisher THQ, all of which were again moved to Nordic Games GmbH.[15]

In June 2014, Nordic Games acquired the "THQ" trademark, intending to use the name as a publishing label for its THQ properties.[16] In August 2016, Nordic Games announced that both itself and its Viennese subsidiary had been renamed as THQ Nordic (as THQ Nordic AB and THQ Nordic GmbH, respectively).[16] According to Wingefors and THQ Nordic GmbH's Reinhard Pollice, the name change was undergone to capitalise on the good reputation of THQ's past, although they avoided naming the companies just "THQ" to avoid connections to THQ's more recent, troubled history being made.[16] On 22 November 2016, THQ Nordic undertook its initial public offering and became a public company listed on the Nasdaq First North stock exchange, being valuated at 1.9 billion kr, while Wingefors retained a 50% ownership in the company.[17]

In February 2018, THQ Nordic acquired Koch Media Holding, the parent company of Austrian media company Koch Media, which in turn owned and operated the Deep Silver video game label, for €121 million.[18] Koch Media was set to operate independently under THQ Nordic, separate from THQ Nordic GmbH.[18] To better reflect its holding function and to avoid confusion between THQ Nordic and its Viennese office, THQ Nordic stated that it planned to rename itself.[18] In June 2018, the company issued 7.7 million new Class B shares to raise $168 million, which would be used for future acquisitions.[19] In November 2018, THQ Nordic acquired Coffee Stain Holding, the Swedish holding company that houses developer Coffee Stain Studios and affiliated companies, for 317 million kr in cash consideration.[20] Coffee Stain became THQ Nordic's "third leg", operating independently like Koch Media.[20] Through the two acquisitions and continued sales from THQ Nordic GmbH, THQ Nordic's net sales rose by 713%, to US$447.6 million, in the 2018 fiscal year.[21] In December 2018, gaming business website GamesIndustry.biz named Wingefors as one of their People of the Year 2018.[10] In February 2019, THQ Nordic issued 11 million new Class B shares, raising 2.09 billion kr ($225 million).[22]

Rebranding as Embracer Group and further acquisitions (2019–present)Edit

At the end of its first fiscal quarter of 2019, THQ Nordic acquired Game Outlet Europe from Nordic Games Group for 10 million kr.[23] In August 2019, the company acquired investment company Goodbye Kansas Game Invest (GKGI) for 42.4 million kr.[24] GKGI held minority investments in five startup developers—Palindrome Interactive, Fall Damage, Neon Giant, Kavalri Games and Framebunker—as well as royalty rights to the THQ Nordic GmbH-published Biomutant.[24] GKGI's investments in Bearded Dragons, Goodbye Kansas VR and IGDB were retained by its previous parent company, Goodbye Kansas.[24] GKGI had been founded in 2016 and by the time of the acquisition had four full-time employees.[25] To avoid further confusion with THQ Nordic GmbH and clarify its position as a holding company, THQ Nordic assumed the name "Embracer Group" at its annual general meeting on 17 September 2019, while the branch in Vienna retained its name.[26][27] In December 2019, the company, through GKGI, acquired Swedish developer Tarsier Studios for 99 million kr. The deal included the studio's 65 employees and intellectual property, excluding Little Nightmares and The Stretchers, which remained with their respective owners.[28]

GKGI was rebranded Amplifier Game Invest in January 2020 to better reflect its new ownership under Embracer Group.[29] That same month, Amplifier opened River End Games, in Gothenburg, Sweden, and C77 Entertainment in Seattle, United States; two development studios, each with veterans from game studios of the respective areas.[30][31] Embracer acquired Saber Interactive and its five internal studios in February 2020 for a total of US$525 million, making Saber the fifth direct subsidiary of Embracer.[32] Embracer raised $164 million in April 2020, to be used for future expansion.[33]

Embracer Group announced seven acquisitions in August 2020: 4A Games and New World Interactive which will be under the Saber Interactive unit; Palindrome Interactive, Rare Earth Games and Vermila Studios which will be under Amplifier Game Invest; Pow Wow Entertainment which will be under THQ Nordic; and lastly DECA Games which became the sixth direct subsidiary under Embracer and will maintain autonomy under the deal.[34][35] The group, under Koch Films, also acquired Sola Media, a Stuttgart-based television-and-film licensing group focusing on children and family properties.[34][36] In November 2020, Embracer Group announced the acquisition of twelve companies: 34BigThings, Mad Head Games, Nimble Giant Entertainment, Snapshot Games and Zen Studios under Saber Interactive; A Thinking Ape Entertainment and IUGO Mobile Entertainment under the DECA Games unit; Flying Wild Hog under Koch Media; Purple Lamp Studios under THQ Nordic; Silent Games under Amplifier Game Invest; and lastly quality assurance company Quantic Lab under Embracer Group to support other studios within the company and public relations company Sandbox Strategies directly under Saber Interactive.[37] THQ Nordic CEO Klemens Kreuzer stated that while large number of acquisitions were driven by the individual divisions under Embracer Group, the move represented part of the portfolio diversity of games that the company wanted to have, in contrast to larger publishers like Electronic Arts which have banked on only a few keystone titles.[38]

Embracer Group announced three major acquisitions in February 2021: The Gearbox Entertainment Company including Gearbox Software for a price of $1.3 billion for which it will become the seventh major holding label within Embracer,[39] Easybrain for $640 million which will become the eighth major holding label,[40] and Aspyr Media for $450 million which will be a subsidiary under the Saber Interactive label.[41]

SubsidiariesEdit

As of 2021, Embracer Group has eight operative groups consisting of 58 internal studios with a total of about 5700 employees in 45 different countries.[42][32][43]

Parent Name Location Founded or acquired Ref.
Amplifier Game Invest C77 Entertainment Seattle January 2020 [44]
DestinyBit Ravenna May 2020 [45]
Fall Damage Stockholm Q1 2017 [46]
Framebunker Copenhagen 2019 [47]
Kavalri Games Stockholm [48]
Misc Games Stavanger Q4 2019 [49]
Palindrome Interactive Skövde August 2020 [34]
Plucky Bytes Karlstad November 2020 [50]
Rare Earth Games Vienna August 2020 [34]
River End Games Gothenburg January 2020 [51]
Silent Games Newcastle November 2020 [52]
Tarsier Studios Malmö December 2019 [53]
Vermilia Studios Madrid August 2020 [34]
Coffee Stain Holding Coffee Stain North Stockholm November 2018 [54]
Coffee Stain Studios Skövde [54]
Lavapotion Gothenburg [54]
DECA Games A Thinking Ape Entertainment Vancouver November 2020 [52]
IUGO Mobile Entertainment [52]
Easybrain Limassol February 2021 [40]
Gearbox Entertainment Gearbox Publishing Frisco, Texas February 2021 [39]
Gearbox Software
Gearbox Studio Québec Quebec City
Koch Media/Deep Silver Dambuster Studios Nottingham February 2018 [55]
Fishlabs Hamburg [55]
Flying Wild Hog Warsaw November 2020 [52]
Milestone srl Milan August 2019 [56]
Vertigo Games Rotterdam September 2020 [57]
Volition Champaign, Illinois February 2018 [55]
Voxler Paris February 2020 [58]
Warhorse Studios Prague February 2019 [59]
Saber Interactive 34BigThings Turin November 2020 [52]
4A Games Sliema August 2020 [34]
Aspyr Media Austin, Texas February 2021 [41]
Mad Head Games Belgrade November 2020 [52]
New World Interactive Denver August 2020 [34]
Nimble Giant Entertainment Buenos Aires November 2020 [52]
Snapshot Games Sofia [52]
Zen Studios Budapest [52]
THQ Nordic Alkimia Interactive Barcelona 2018 [60][61]
Ashborne Games Brno November 2020 [62]
Black Forest Games Offenburg August 2017 [63]
Bugbear Entertainment Helsinki November 2018 [54]
Experiment 101 Stockholm November 2017 [64]
Grimlore Games Munich December 2013 [65]
Gunfire Games Austin, Texas August 2019 [66]
HandyGames Giebelstadt July 2018 [67]
Mirage Game Studios Karlstad 2016 [2]
Nine Rocks Games Bratislava February 2020 [68]
Pieces Interactive Skövde August 2017 [69]
Piranha Bytes Essen May 2019 [70]
Pow Wow Entertainment Vienna August 2020 [34]
Purple Lamp Studios Austria November 2020 [52]
Rainbow Studios Phoenix, Arizona 2013 [71]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit