Embracer Group’s run of acquisitions may have finally come to an end. This week the Swedish video game and media holding company, which has made countless headlines buying up everything from the IP rights to Lord of the Rings to the studios behind Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and Borderlands, announced it would be “restructuring” in an attempt to make itself “a leaner, stronger and a more focused, self-sufficient company.”
An open letter from group CEO Lars Wingefors says this restructuring will include shutting down or selling off studios, halting or pausing development on games, and cutbacks to spending more generally. Wingefors also wants the company to focus more on its internal IP and bring in more external funding for big-budget games.
“The program… will transform us from our current heavy-investment-mode to a highly cash-flow generative business”
In recent years, Embracer has been on a dizzying acquisition spree that’s seen its size balloon to include 138 internal game development studios as part of a company footprint spread across 40 countries. In addition to the companies mentioned above, Embracer has also scooped up World War Z developer Saber Interactive, the USA’s third-largest comics publisher Dark Horse Comics, and board game publisher Asmodee. Axios cites one report that says Embracer spent $1 billion across 20 acquisitions last year.
“The program presented today will transform us from our current heavy-investment-mode to a highly cash-flow generative business this year,” Wingefors writes. The implication? The era of big spending is coming to an end; it’s time to make money from its investments.
While the CEO’s open letter vaguely points towards “the worsening economy and market reality” as being to blame for the restructuring, you don’t have to look far for more concrete causes. Just weeks ago Embracer announced that a “transformative” $2 billion partnership it had been negotiating had fallen through. It also lowered its earnings forecast for the next year from between $965 million and $1.3 billion down to $655 to $840 million due to game delays.
There’s also the state of the global economy more generally, which has seen interest rates rise around the world after spending a decade at close to zero. It’s a moment that some have referred to as “the end of the ‘free money’ era,” with investors becoming less willing to throw money after more speculative investments. Embracer Group itself has taken a controversial $1 billion investment from the Saudi-backed Savvy Gaming Group.
The Embracer CEO’s open letter is light on details about which projects might be impacted, or how many of its almost 17,000 employees could be made redundant as a result of the restructuring. However, it notes that it’ll mainly impact unannounced projects with “low projected returns,” with “all announced significant releases” set to release as planned. Remnant 2, Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine 2, Payday 3, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged, Arizona Sunshine 2, Alone in the Dark, and Homeworld 3 are all on Embracer’s release calendar for this year.
“The [restructuring] program is expected to be fully implemented by 1 October 2023,” Embracer’s filing reads.