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Embracer Group output strategy | Discussion


Embracer Group is now of the largest European video games publishers, and their just announced acquisition of Eidos, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix Montréal along with various IP like Tomb Raider which is expected to conclude this summer adds to the global reach of this publisher. The corporation as it exists was founded in 2011 as a holding company for Swedish studio Nordic Games (which published We Sing for the Nintendo Wii in 2009, was made so the Wii would have its own version of the PlayStation exclusive SingStar series). Nordic Games would acquire JoWooD in 2011 and THQ in 2013, later acquiring the THQ trademark in 2014 and would change their name to THQ Nordic AB in August 2016 (Nordic Games GmbH became THQ Nordic GmbH). Nov. 2016, THQ Nordic had its IPO and became a public company listed on NASDAQ First North stock exchange. In February 2018, THQ Nordic acquired Koch Media Holding which owned Koch Media and Deep Silver. In November 2018, they acquired Coffee Stain Studios, giving THQ Nordic a "third leg" (THQ Nordic and Koch Media being the first two). September 2019 is when THQ Nordic AB assumed their current name Embracer Group. Their fourth direct subsidiary was acquired when they bought Goodbye Kansas Game Invest and rebranded them as Amplifier Game Invest in January 2020. February 2020 had Embracer acquire Saber Interactive, their fifth direct subsidiary. In August 2020 among other acquisitions, Embracer bought DECA Games, their sixth direct subsidiary. February 2021 had Embracer acquire The Gearbox Entertainment Company, which became their seventh major holding label and Easybrain, their eighth. December 2021 saw the acquisition of Asmodee, their ninth major label and of Dark Horse Media, which became its tenth major division.

Embracer takes a multiplatform approach under their many divisions, releasing games for Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch as well as PC. Their THQ Nordic division acquired the Nickelodeon license in 2018, after Activision's license had expired. Under Saber Interactive, Aspyr (which was acquired February 2021) has been re-releasing LucasArts games for modern consoles (including the questionable decision to release the Wii version of Star Wars The Force Unleashed on the Nintendo Switch rather than the Xbox 360 version or the PS3 version). The Dark Horse acquisition also gives potential for new licensed video games based on Dark Horse IP. I imagine their next gen offerings will be on PS5, Xbox Series and whatever Drake is called (Switch 2? )

One of the bigger controversies is that in February 2019, THQ Nordic's PR director hosted an Ask Me Anything on 8chan, a notorious site associated with child pornography and hate speech. After widespread criticism, Lars Wingefors, the CEO of Embracer had apologized for the event in March 2019. Some people on other forums have indicated that they still won't buy games from THQ Nordic. I, myself, have yet to buy a THQ Nordic game. I intend to take a neutral stance on the company, as I feel that would best facilitate discussion, but in the interest of disclosure, this feels like something that damaged their reputation with me. Last year, Koch Media had a livestream as part of Summer Games Fest. It was definitely panned by those on Twitter and from some in gaming media, but I still commend the effort they made in attempting to show the devs behind some of the games they publish. Their heart was in the right place, they just needed some editing to not make it feel so long and uninteresting. I guess we'll see if Koch Media decides to do another direct-style livestream this year in the absence of E3.

Embracer clearly is not done with acquisitions. How will this effect the European gaming industry and the global one? Does this global consolidation of video game companies harm consumers or game developers? What will be the next IP that sees a revival under the huge Embracer umbrella? Does Playstation eventually get the better version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed ? I guess only time will tell.
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